Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea has posted an open letter confirming that the band largely faked its Super Bowl halftime show performance. The Chili Peppers joined Bruno Mars on stage to play their '90s staple "Give It Away," but viewers quickly noticed that both the guitar and bass were completely unplugged. In his letter, Flea revealed that only the vocals from singer Anthony Kiedis were performed live. "It was made clear to us that the vocals would be live, but the bass, drums, and guitar would be pre-recorded," Flea wrote. "There was not any room for argument on this," he added, as the NFL was apparently unwilling to risk any unexpected sound problems during the segment.
"We played every note in the recording specially for the gig."
The Chili Peppers ordinarily refuse to fake or "mime" playing instruments on stage to a backing track, Flea said. "We take our music playing seriously, it is a sacred thing for us, and anyone who has ever seen us in concert (like the night before the Super Bowl at the Barclays Center), knows that we play from our heart, we improvise spontaneously, take musical risks, and sweat blood at every show. We have been on the road for 31 years doing it."
But realizing that the Super Bowl halftime show represented a "surreal-like, once in a life time crazy thing to do," the band decided to make a lone exception. "We decided that, with Anthony singing live, that we could still bring the spirit and freedom of what we do into the performance." They recorded a unique version of the song that would be played behind Kiedis' vocals, so while it wasn't technically live, no audience will ever hear that exact performance again.
Leaving their instruments unplugged was an intentional choice meant to make the circumstances more obvious, Flea now claims. He says the entire controversy would have been a "non-issue" if wires were visible. "We thought it better to not pretend." Despite plenty of anger from fans — who claim the band simply bowed to the NFL's desire for a perfect performance over a real one – Flea said he "would do it all the same way again."