Red Hot Chili Peppers’ drummer Chad Smith has banged out a whole bunch of special appearances this week, from hanging with first lady Michelle Obama at the first White House talent show to cracking wise about the music biz in front of the Capitol.
The best part of the trip, though, had to be showing his eldest son, Cole, around the White House.
“My son for some reason, 9 years old, all things presidential he is just enamored with,” Smith told HOH. To wit, Smith noted that while visiting the Oval Office, Cole dropped some knowledge on the tour guide about the reason behind the circular design — something about not being able to sneak up on POTUS — that the administration aide claimed to be unfamiliar with.
“So Cole is now giving tours of the White House,” Smith quipped.
He said Cole got the shock of his young life when President Barack Obama unexpectedly popped by a FLOTUS-led event and took a shine to the nattily attired young man.
“He had on this seersucker suit, my son. Which he never wears a suit. It’s the only suit he has,” Smith shared.
When 44 got up close and personal, Smith said, Cole got all the love.
“Barack was like, ‘Nice to meet you, Chad. ... Hey, nice suit. Where’d you get that suit? Ah, Seersucker. Summer’s coming,’” Smith noted. “So he was talking to my son about fashion.”
Or was he?
“And Cole’s like, ‘The president called me a sucker,’” Smith said, choking back laughter. The encounter clearly wasn’t as surreal for Smith. The newly minted member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities said he met Obama years ago, when he was still a senator, at a fundraiser his band played for Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.
“He got up and spoke and I was like, 'Whoa, who’s this guy. He’s got something going on.' And I gave him one of my drumsticks,” Smith recalled.
And while he cherishes that memory — Smith swears he’s got the picture of a smiling Obama clutching that drum stick somewhere — the gravity of this particular swing through 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. (he said he’d visited once before in the early part of the past decade) became crystal clear shortly thereafter.
“On the train home, we live in New York, [Cole] was writing about what Michelle’s speech was ... instead of playing his iPad. Which is what he’d rather do," Smith said of the resonance of FLOTUS’ words to the assembled youth. “It was very inspiring.”
And whereas band mates Anthony Kiedis and Flea have long enjoyed the spotlight — yup, that’s them wrecking stuff in the background as rapper Ice Cube attempts to rally additional troublemakers to the cause in “Wicked” — Smith is currently enjoying his moment.
In addition to being the toast of D.C., the Grammy-winning percussionist gets the spotlight to himself Thursday night; that’s when he’s scheduled to square off against his comedian “twin” Will Ferrell in a charity drum-off orchestrated by “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”
Meanwhile, Smith confirmed that the punk-funk pranksters who have been marching to the beat of their own drummer since the early 1980s are hard at work on their next album.
So, when can we expect to have them blow the doors off a local venue?
“Next year. We’ll come back,” he pledged.