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Original guitarist Hillel Slovak died of a heroin overdose in 1988.Frusciante, then an eighteen-year-old Peppers fan, joined the band for 1989's He quit abruptly in 1992; Arik Marshall filled in for that summer's Lollapalooza tour (he now plays in Macy Gray's band).And when he hit that first chord, it was so perfect – this blend of sounds from these people who I hadn't heard play together in so long." join the band for dinner at a Moroccan restaurant where the waiters wear feezes and the meal concludes with a belly dancer. Frusciante excuses himself early; he's working on his third solo record, and he's finding it hard to carry on a conversation when all he can think about is the mastering process.Kiedis has begged off sick, explaining that his head has swollen up to the size of a football; the other three openly scoff at this excuse."I came here once with my mom," Flea says. And back then, I was playing basketball every night. Smith and Flea amiably trade stories about their children and touring with Nirvana in South America.What does it mean to be a Chili Pepper in the year 2000?It means that you still play party funk with more bounce to the ounce than any other rock band but have dramatically expanded your sonic palette.This summer they'll play major American cities, but first they're visiting smaller ones like Chattanooga, Tennessee – towns they haven't played since they all packed into a blue Chevy van. Onstage, he's prone to flailing around; in his apartment, his motion is subdued and economical, as if he has spent four decades learning to get from point A to point B without wasted movement.Kiedis wants to make sure the band stays in places where the local color hasn't all been "homogenized into Styrofoam." He sits on his couch with an atlas in his lap, licking his fingers as he flips through the pages, trying to determine where the band members should sleep after they play in State College, Pennsylvania. OK, let's stay in Pittsburgh, then jam down to Roanoke."They finish the planning, and Kiedis stands up. The apartment is pleasant but lacks any particular signs of Kiedis' personality. "A few years ago, I wasn't feeling myself and wanted a clean slate." He put his house on the market, thinking it would take about a year to sell. When Kiedis came back from a trip, he found his stuff had been put in storage, where it has stayed while he bounces from place to place.

It means that you can walk through life holding tragedy in one hand and merriment in the other.I was so fanatic, I wasn't going to not play just because I was drunk and stuffed. Flea describes a dream he had recently in which he was swimming, then got on land and took a bus, where he had sex with Foxy Brown – whom, he says, he isn't particularly attracted to when awake."I'm attracted to Lil' Kim," insists Flea.So I threw up all over the court."Frusciante: You told me once about going to the court on acid and –Flea: It wasn't acid, it was ecstasy. "Lil' Kim is the one I'd like to take out to dinner."After dessert and the belly dancer, Flea lingers in the parking lot, chatting in the chilly spring air.I was up all night, and I went to play as soon as it got light, at 6 A. He shows me his automobile, dubbed "the clown car" – it's a 1989 Mercedes with every panel elegantly painted a different color.

"I just thought it would be a cool piece of art," Flea says. His eleven-year-old daughter, Clara, used to love it, but now she asks to be dropped off a block away from school.nthony Kiedis lives in an apartment building not far from Hollywood's Sunset Boulevard.

Frusciante says he's never listened to "Nobody's ever made a good case to me why I should," he explains.