John Frusciante on Leaving RHCP: 'It Was Never an Expression of Who I Was'

"I just knew that I didn't ever want to be in the band again," the guitarist says.

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Former Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante recently opened up about his departure from the ranks of funk rockers, naming longtime love for electronic music and zero desire for live performing among the key reasons. As the axeman told Billboard, it wasn't until bassist Flea made a decision to take a two-year break that he actually considered leaving the band, mostly due to massive success they reached. After saying that delving into electronica domain was always a great desire, Frusciante focused on his departure. "So it was always something that I wanted to do but we were so well-received as a band that it didn't really occur to me to quit until Flea came to me at one point and said, 'I want to take a two-year break after this tour,'" he explained. "And he said that to me about halfway through the [2007 "Stadium Arcadium"] tour, and when he said it I was kind of shocked, 'cause I thought we were on a roll, let's just keep moving with this, you know? But once he said it to me, my mind started thinking, 'What would I do with that two years if I had two years to just do whatever I wanted?'" The guitarist went on to explain that the idea of quitting made him rather excited, getting to a point where he felt he never wanted to be a member of the band. "And by about four months later I was so excited about quitting the band I didn't even want it to be a two-year thing anymore. I just knew that I didn't ever want to be in the band again, you know? And I didn't actually quit until several months after we were already on the break, but I knew I wanted to quit months before the tour was over. I was determined to." When asked on whether he'd ever consider performing his new music in front of the audience, Frusciante categorically refused the idea, stressing that he never was a live performer in the first place. "No, I have no interest in playing live," he responded. "I really don't think of myself as a performer anymore. It was never something that came naturally to me. It was something that I adapted to, but it was never really an expression of who I was ... I'm not a performer. I don't appreciate the effect that audiences have on me, because for me music is something that comes from inside of me." He elaborated further, "And music is something that I immerse myself in, and when I'm in front of an audience, I can't ignore my surroundings and I can't ignore the way they make me feel. They make me feel good, the audiences. But then I find that I'm not so much reaching inside myself to create something, but Im more trying to meet with their expectations. And I'm trying to do something thats entertaining to them. And that's just not me." Frusciante's new EP "Outsides" is set to drop on August 27 via Record Collection. You can check out one of the record's four tracks, "Same," in the player below.

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114 comments sorted by best / new / date

    rockfreak611
    Reading some of those words cut like a knife to me. Frusciante was to the Chili Peppers what Jimmy Page was to Zeppelin.
    Jehuty
    It takes some serious balls to admit to all this. It's hard yes, but I have a deep respect for this man to be able to set aside thoughts about what the public wants and to do what genuinely makes him happy.
    mrmckaid
    Exactly. I would upvote you several more times if I could for that comment.
    jrodgers
    VERY disapointing to hear him say these things. Millions of guitar players around the world would kill to have his abilities and opportunities. Hell, millions around the world would kill just to see him play a guitar live again. But what can you say? He's an eccentric, and its his life to do whatever odd things he wants with it.
    ripper992
    Good points, but there's time, he might want to get on the stage again at certain point
    60s&70s
    Its so sad... It feels like he never truly loved what he was doing with the Chili Peppers.
    Clarkinator
    I doubt that, he was a massive fan before he got into the band, and he also rejoined after he got clean in the late 90s. I don't think he would have rejoined after such a long break if he didn't love being in the Chilis. I think most of this stems from being in the same band for 20 some years. He's never been an Angus Young type who can go out and do the same type of music for decades. That is no knock on Young or ACDC, Froosh is just wired differently.
    jrodgers
    If he had said what you just did, I think most people could understand that. All he really needed to say was "I'm tired again of playing with RHCP and want to do something different". But all this talk of "I don't appreciate the effect audiences have on me", and "entertaining people is not me", comes off as snooty and elitist. I have a lot of other guitar heroes that weren't even able to live long enough to enjoy success into their later adulthood, so this again is very dissapointing to hear.
    vikkyvik
    No it doesn't. It simply comes off as a guy who has a different opinion of playing live than perhaps most of us do. Nothing wrong with that. Not every musician has to enjoy playing live.
    shlepy
    I actually feel the same exact way he is, I'm no where near his caliber but I can honestly say I can relate to how he feels and I truly understand his decision. It makes complete sense to me.
    Jacques Nel
    ...ironically he plays Jimmy Page in "Danni California".
    ifc69
    LOL. I thought that was hilarious. Not sure why you got down-voted so bad.
    TheOnlyChance
    LOL. probably because he can't spell "Dani"
    handsomedevil93
    Bahaha John's influence for Dani California was Black Sabbath...
    manualex
    The initial influence was a Wu Tang Clan beat and the chords were inspired on that Tom Petty song, the solo was a trubute to hendrix.
    ibanez124
    I thought the influence for Dani was "Last Dance with Mary Jane" I mean it is the same exact chords and progression
    FenderMaster
    I feel the same, it's so odd to know that the band I loved so much, my favourite albums,that John's heart wasn't in it, especially when they meant so much to me and influenced me so much!
    Jozef23
    True, but Slovak, Sherman, Klinghoffer and Navarro both added there brilliance to 5 great albums
    flcutter23
    actually, in my opinion, any album the didn't feature John were sub par and I refuse to condone them with a purchase. John is the one who really rocketed them to the top, and without him they're just not the same. If you think about it, there aren't really any "popular" songs from RHCP that don't feature John on the axe.
    flcutter23
    actually, in my opinion, any album the didn't feature John were sub par and I refuse to condone them with a purchase. John is the one who really rocketed them to the top, and without him they're just not the same. If you think about it, there aren't really any "popular" songs from RHCP that don't feature John on the axe.
    UncleBluck
    I was not aware that Fruciante wrote pretty much every single song for RHCP like Page did for Zep? On top of the fact that Page is and will always be the only guitar player the band ever had.....
    beachdude42
    Actually yes, Frusciante wrote virtually all of the music on the albums which he appeared. Which is most of them.
    fafa1234
    I didn't know that, but I assumed it, since everything RHCP released since his departure has been substandard...
    mitchy86
    I respect his decision but it's pretty sad that he says he'll never be in a band or play live again.
    slush
    "I don't appreciate the effect that audiences have on me, because for me music is something that comes from inside of me." That's pretty strange considering that he was RHCP's original superfan when he replaced Hillel Slovak.
    Tthunbo
    Supposedly he changed, I mean, back then he was ~18 years old bathing in drugs and energy. Now he's older, I assume he's drug-free. It sucks, tough, that he probably won't be on stage again.
    Pandinho
    It hurt reading that :-/ I'm glad i got to take inspiration from him with rhcp. I enjoy his solo work, but his lead guitar from pretty much every single rhcp performance ever is mesmerising to me and completely changed my outlook towards music. He is the most inspirational musician and person ever to me and i would give anything to be able to see him perform with rhcp. I can 100% understand with him wanting to do what he wants though obviously. Thank god for youtube ;
    theclassicrock
    Honestly I'm not to worried. He changes his entire perspecive on the world every few years. And if he thinks he was never a live performer he's kidding himself. While I doubt he'll come back to RHCP I garuntee you he will play live eventually. Anyway check out the whole interview. There are some other interesting things. Its kinda easy to take some of them personally though.
    Validischofe
    He performed long enough in front of big crowds to make himself rich and put himself in a position where can afford to say, "that's not who I am" and quit performing. All I'm saying is that it's easier to make those kinds of decisions when money isn't an issue.
    iwish4zombies
    Once record sales decline to zero, guitar players around the world will be too afraid of losing money to quit. Seriously I wonder how it's going to pan out.
    yeahi
    as long as RHCP keeps playing songs that he wrote, he'll still keep getting some sort of royalty..
    ripper992
    It's not just RHCP, it's TV and radio stations, merchandise and a load other stuff. The guy's financially set for life
    Rimfrost
    Im more into Frusciantes solo stuff than RHCP (though i love both) so im kinda glad that hes focusing on that these days. Now i just hope he makes something as brilliant as The Empyrean again, though it seems a bit unlikely. Looking forward to the new EP.
    mrmckaid
    I LOVED To Record Only Water for Ten Days. That was really my introduction to his solo stuff and such a far cry from RHCP...very refreshing to my ears. Although I do adore RHCP as well of course. As many others mentioned...to hear him say he didn't enjoy performing (like it looked like he did) is absolutely shocking to me.
    EoinOwnage
    But in that two year break he came up with The Empyrean. You're forgiven John xD Love that record!
    Iommianity
    Honestly, that interview just made me respect the guy more. If attaining a certain level of success with your craft doesn't give you the right to do whatever makes you happy with it, why even bother in the first place? As fans, we ALL have this notion that our favourite music made a unique connection with us and that it's an integral part of our lives, but we're essentially voyeurs. Literally our only say is if we like it or not. The artists who make art purely for consumption are the ones who truly fall off, because their standards for success are filling stadiums and selling albums, not writing music that makes them happy. Good for him; he wants to be John Frusciante, not a marionette. As for anyone who hates John now or would kill for his position, you know that says far more about you than the validity of his choice, right? I don't want any musicians I enjoy to put out music for any reason other than because it's what they want to do, and I question anyone's integrity who says otherwise.
    crozers
    does'nt surprize me. He originally left because he did'nt like preforming in front of big crowds
    big muff pedal
    Always strikes me as an honest, genuine guy who just says how he feels. Sad that I'll never see him live but I respect his decision. He's a great musician.
    DickHardwood
    Well, I don't think it came as a shock to anyone, what he said. I was pretty sure he'd step as far away from the limelight as possible, I'm shocked that he did an interview to be honest. This song is ****ing sick though.
    Iommianity
    What you described is what it means to be a machine or public servant. Musicians are neither of those things. Whoever taught you that making other people happy is the key to art did you a terrible disservice. Art is self expression, and not everyone needs to express themselves playing guitar god. That's the worst notion of artistic integrity I think I've ever come across.
    UniformRecon
    It kind of hurts to see that there's probably no chance that I'll see him live (I never got to see him with RHCP), but after reading that, you can really tell that he truly plays music not for the money, but for his love for it. I'm glad for him.
    Krieger91
    I hadn't heard from this guy for ages, and then this It's his life..but seeing him playing live was one of my dreams..obviously never gonna happen.
    majorityagainst
    listening to this track, josh is really using these kind of synthesizing effect fr his playing too. so for me there's still a part frusciante with the chili's - josh.
    abkyleguitar
    Interesting. Very interesting. Until reading this, I've gone by Joe Walsh's advice of "You've got to perform on stage." "So i got to play in front of people. That's the other part of it.... all these kids are legends in their parents garage. But they can't play in front of people... Kids are afraid to do it. You bring that up, you don't really get better. You just bring awful UP. So you're not THAT awful. You gotta play live in front of people. At first you're awful and you stink. " - [Joe Walsh](
    ) So I've been going on this advice, I even posted a craigs list ad tittled "Legend in the garage seeks to start playing on stage." But then I read this, of john frusciante saying he prefers studio musicianship more because of how it allows himself to express what's inside of him, rather than live on stage where he must meet the expectations of the crowds moreso than express what's inside. Which I can very easily relate too because I've recorded over 60 songs and 350+ youtube videos.
    josh2013
    He also said he is glad he played live successfully for so long but this article leaves that part out... The title of the article is misleading and creating a bias as it's completely changing the context of what he said. I recommend everybody check out the original and full interview on billboard to understand the context of what he's saying plus a lot of other cool things.
    svet
    After all it's not about us, how we feel. It's all about him. He can do whatever he want to, as long as it makes him happy. I admire is decision, because we all wan't to be happy with what we do, and not to follow other peoples expectations!
    Kabir
    It makes sense now. He doesn't care to perform live. He's the ultimate introvert musician, and the electronic world is largely full of those people and even the hip-hop and pop world is full of music producers who are amazing talents, and many of them stay behind the scenes. Doing artistic things means you have to be in the right place to be an artist. If you are just basking in the love from audiences all over the world, and trying to play your song harder and louder just to meet their energy, I understand how the true artistic intent can be lost. I respect Frusciante.
    wil
    John is a true artist who has pulled himself back from the edge of oblivion-a remarkable human being and I personally enjoy his solo albums more than any of the RHCP stuff.
    TheBegotten
    Kinda sounds a bit like Rory Gallagher, you know? I mean, not everybody wants the pressure of being a rockstar, and the ones who do generally have the least talent. I'm looking forwards to seeing what he comes up with, but I doubt I'd be able to forgive him if he lets his guitar go by the wayside.
    jtlucas99
    There are multiple facets to every job and in music, there is the writing/recording and the Entertaining/performing. While his heart may not have been in the Selling (performance) aspect, It was and is very much in the creative part. Lots of artists don't like the part where they have to go sell their work, but it's part of the job and John did it well. No need for us fans to get butt-hurt about it, how many of you would quit your day job, because even though your good at it, you'd rather be somewhere else? If you could afford to do it, you would. It's why those of us less talented play the lottery.
    Kailashanand
    My view is possibly very limited and ignorant,but rock music is not just guitar. Its guitar, Bass, Drums and vocal. Thats base and all really needed. And If You get chance by God to play with such an supreme band members as Chad, Flea and Kiedis, and feel not grateful for it, thats just immaturity. Its an such gift that maybe at this moment John is not aware of it, but its 1000x times stronger energy, joy and motivation and inspiration, than workin alone...I think John will wake up one day and realize what he have lost. Its very difficult to get on planet earth status that he was offered quite easily. Maybe there is some truth in saying " Easy comes easy goes." JOhn had enormous potential, but no matter how loyal fans are towards him, that special touch he had being with RHCP is somehow gone. His solo stuff is good, but guitar with RHCP was magic ! He would need really miracle to get to that level of magic all by himself ! And of course, music first comes from yourself, you must enjoy playing it alone..and pleasing others is cheesy word...but life is not just "I, me and mine". I think sharing, giving, love (also in form of music)to uplift, heal others (and at the same time being very much connected with your true Source)is very fulfilling. You might hate me by saying this but, John might be just stucked inhis own self image-ego or self importance. You know that, when rock star die he get 100x more attention and recognition than before. The same is true when he/she retire ! Think about it ! Addicts ( even ex ones)do have special "issues"about their image..Peace
    HDI
    Today, I lost more hope for seeing him perform before I die. But I absolutely love what he's doing. I love everything about him.
    GoToSleep
    I agree with him. Music is not about live performances its about the music. And music is a very personal pleasure, something that comes from the heart.
    reignofrock
    I respect this man so much. I'm With You was a lot better than One Hot Minute, but could not beat any Frusciante effort. While I would love to see him back with RHCP he doesn't need to prove anything. He's already a massive success and ought to do exactly what he wants. I'm sad, but good for him.
    RHtonyflowCP
    I feel privileged to no end to have witnessed John in the lineup when I went to see them at Earls Court on the S.A tour, but damn, what I witnessed that night, didn't cement his statement of of him not being a live performer. That's not even counting Off The Map or Slane Castle either. I love John and always will. He's the reason I picked up a guitar in the first place.
    rmack4341
    I'm happy for him, however, I think from listening to what he is doing now compared with what he did with RHCP, it just seems like wasted talent. The digital stuff is just terrible. He played well off of Flea and Chad. But alone he's just kind of boring. I don't even know if you can call that clip above 'music'. One of the greatest guitarists ever in my opinion. But all alone he's just disappointing. Amazing that someone with so much talent wants to make talentless crap.
    Rimfrost
    Its not all talentless:
    Id say this is better than anything he ever did with RHCP.
    Galfadez
    How old are you Rmack? His Chili Peppers stuff is a great gateway into rock/experimental music but if you've listened to a decent amount of music you'll no doubt find his solo work to be more enjoyable.
    rmack4341
    If his solo work is now going to consist of the digital bore-fest featured in the link above, it will most certainly not be as enjoyable as RHCP.
    Rimfrost
    Since he started making solo albums he has done all sorts of things, i doubt he'll make the same thing over and over again. His last album, Pbx, mixed all kinds of things from jazz to rock to electro and breakcore. He isn't particularily predictable, he even made a grunge album and a stripped down acoustic album.
    VertigoViking
    You know, the backing track was ok, but the endless guitar noodling sounded like something I was recording in my bedroom a few years ago. I remember his phrasing being a lot better in the peppers albums.
    GuitarGod610
    Frusciante is a guitar player that I cannot stand, not because of what he does, but mostly because of the rabid group of devotees I come across that imitate the RHCP style. Now that he's admitted that RHCP is not who he is, maybe that will give those fanatics reason to shut the hell up. I doubt it, though.
    Jmoarguitar
    Frusciantes my idol when it comes to music, so it's fine that he doesn't want to do it anymore. It's just so weird that he doesn't care for playing live. I think he's had more magical live/improv's than any rock guitarist to date. He's an absolute monster on stage, especially with flea and chad. Keep on pumping out great music John, keep on truckin RHCP
    khalidguitarist
    John frusciante is my biggest inspiration, and he the reason why I play guitar all the time. Really so sad that he won't play with RHCP again ; (
    sklaiss24
    I hold some hope that he'll do something with them again at some point. I mean deep down I'm sure he still loves playing with musicians. It brings out different sides of your playing that sitting in a studio by yourself. So hopefully he'll be back at some point. I love John, but I feel like he'd be lying if he said he doesn't like jamming with Flea lol.
    goingsurfing
    This article makes me sad, in a way. I think it's really cool that Frusciante is doing what he likes, but from a selfish point of view, I kind of wish he wouldn't. It's immature for me to say, and I wish him the best, even though I don't know the guy in the slightest. I guess I just always enjoyed simple, catchy pop music a lot more than any abstract artistic vision. I love Frusciante as a guitarist, and it makes me disappointed that he isn't totally into playing live. There's some pretty cool stuff out there on youtube of him doing crazy solos with RHCP. I watch that stuff like people usually watch television, or eat food or something. But he has a cool philosophy on music that makes me think about it in a way I never did before. But I'm just an average consumer, and I really do think he and music should be free to do whatever artistic stuff they take pleasure in doing.
    STONESHAKER
    The track they posted a link to sounds like Peter Fripp playing guitar over a Radiohead instrumental.
    guygroomes85
    Personally i think john second guesses himself to much. Hes the type of person that breaks apart and then comes back together. You guys dont understand his genius. He'll get back into it. Look at higher ground live on letterman and then listen to his live performing comment. I call bullshit. That was by far the most badass thing i have ever witnessed in my life. That level of passion is god damn near unmatched. John is and was a live performer, he just forgot. He is the chili, he just gotta reinvent the sauce. You'll see.
    guygroomes85
    And btw john if you ever read this you better fucking get your ass back to the guitar. You have inspired me to the highest level get your fire back man. God damnit get on it man
    Anjohl
    So hold on now, are you a wannabe Jimi Hendrix or wannabe Aphex Twin? And you know who else dislkes your live performing? Everyone.
    The_Dayman
    So you think literally everybody hated John Frusciante's live performing? What a stupid thing to say.
    Anjohl
    I'm John Fruscante!
    Abomination94
    If you were, I think you'd be able to spell your own name...
    Anjohl
    I just played about half of the notes from the album version in my live solo, with terribly trebly and squawky tone, so of COURSE i'm John Frusciante!
    Tqoratsos
    That is just outright dumb! do you even have ears? I mean, its alright if u dont like his style but he certainly didn't "dumb" the solo's down. I'd like to see one of your favorite guitarists play a improv solo as good. Also if you look at his tone controls you will find that he has bass and mids set pretty high and trebs low.
    HDI
    Do not speak for me, Satan. John Frusciante is my lover.