John Frusciante Discusses His Return to Red Hot Chili Peppers: “The Chemistry is Still There”

Frusciante says he's using only one guitar on Chili Peppers' new album

Red Hot Chili Peppers with John Frusciante
Red Hot Chili Peppers with John Frusciante

John Frusciante spoke about his decision to rejoin Red Hot Chili Peppers and recording new music with the band in a recent interview with Australia’s Double J Radio.

Frusciante originally called into Double J Radio to talk about his new solo electronic album, Maya, but eventually the conversation segued into a discussion about the Chili Peppers.

After several months in quarantine, Frusciante said he and the rest of the band recently “went back to rehearsing, and are moving ahead and writing new music.”

“What I found exciting when I started playing with them [again] is to see what I could do with a guitar,” Frusciante continued. “For me, for the last 12 years, guitar was just something I practiced music with and it’s not such a big part of the music I make. So it was that idea of how many different worlds you can pull out of a Stratocaster.”

“Other records I’d use multiple guitars, but so far in this studio, I’ve done everything on one guitar. [I’m] just trying to make that guitar speak in different ways and say something different in every tune,” Frusciante revealed. “It’s a musical challenge of sorts.”

Frusciante also said he was working with Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith in “a different way than I was before. Chad and I are having an interactive thing different than we did before. Before I didn’t even know the difference between a ride cymbal and a crash cymbal. Now, I’m a drummer in my own way through breakbeats and drum machines. A lot of the drums are crazier than what we did before.”

From there, the conversation shifted to his decision to return to the Chili Peppers after a decade away. “It’s returning to family. I’m extremely comfortable with them,” he said. “It’s as if no time had gone by at all. Basically, we’re all just as comfortable with each other as we ever were.”

Frusciante attributed his previous decision to leave the band in 2009 as him wanting him to keep his “ego in check.”

“I’ve spent half my life in the band and half my life out of the band, and I suppose that’s what I needed to keep things fresh and to not feel like I was going to become one of those people I never wanted to become, who just sort of keeps repeating themselves and gets too comfortable with the rock star mentality and rock star lifestyle,” Frusciante explained. “On one hand, you want to be appreciative of the people who put you on a pedestal. On the other hand, you’ve got to keep your ego in check — you don’t want to go around thinking you’re superior to other people or letting you making them think that. I find that a juggling act, and I find ego a tricky opponent.”

“When I looked at it with fresh eyes after all this time had gone by,” Frusciante added, “I just think Flea, Anthony [Kiedis], and Chad are particularly great people to be in a band with. I’ve known other musicians and I’ve seen how bad egos can fly. And as far of rock musicians, those guys really know how to keep their feet on the ground and their heads leveled. In terms of playing guitar, there’s no one I’d rather do it with than the band, and luckily the chemistry is still there and we enjoy each other’s company.”

Listen to the full interview below.

Because of the pandemic, Red Hot Chili Peppers were forced to postpone their upcoming tour until 2021. Instead, it appears their main focus at the moment is recording a new album, which would mark their first with Frusciante since 2006’s Stadium Arcadium.