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What Is This?

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What Is This? (known prior to 1980 as Anthym) was a rock band that originated in Fairfax High School in California and would play numerous shows along the coast of California. They were formed before and played around the same time as the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers would introduce the band before they went on stage. Original Chili Peppers members Hillel Slovak and Jack Irons left the Chili Peppers not long before their first album to stay in What Is This?. Hillel rejoined the Chili Peppers for their second album and Jack for their third album. The name What Is This? refers to the reaction of people listening to their music. After the joining of Natasha Shneider the band was first renamed “Walk the Moon” and then Eleven. The band, in their early days, are referenced numerous times in Anthony Kiedis’s autobiography, “Scar Tissue”.

The band released three albums in the early to mid-80s. Their song, “Mind My Still Have I,” from their 1984 EP Squeezed, was also featured on the soundtrack to the movie The Wild Life. Their second outstanding album which featured a cover of the Spinners hit “Ill be around” was produced by Todd Rundgren who also played Fairlight Synthesizer on the record.

There has been speculation that the original name Anthym was inspired by Canadian band Rush, whose 1975 song “Anthem” gave name to their own record label. That song was in turn inspired by the novella of the same name by author Ayn Rand, who was (at that time) a major influence on Rush drummer/lyricist Neil Peart. The “y” variation in Anthym is said to have been taken from “Ayn”.

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