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.

Ultimate Guitar

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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    Reading some of those words cut like a knife to me. Frusciante was to the Chili Peppers what Jimmy Page was to Zeppelin.
    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.
    Good points, but there's time, he might want to get on the stage again at certain point
    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.
    Exactly. I would upvote you several more times if I could for that comment.
    Its so sad... It feels like he never truly loved what he was doing with the Chili Peppers.
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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".
    LOL. I thought that was hilarious. Not sure why you got down-voted so bad.
    LOL. probably because he can't spell "Dani"
    Bahaha John's influence for Dani California was Black Sabbath...
    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.
    I thought the influence for Dani was "Last Dance with Mary Jane" I mean it is the same exact chords and progression
    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!
    True, but Slovak, Sherman, Klinghoffer and Navarro both added there brilliance to 5 great albums
    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.
    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.
    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.....
    Actually yes, Frusciante wrote virtually all of the music on the albums which he appeared. Which is most of them.
    I didn't know that, but I assumed it, since everything RHCP released since his departure has been substandard...
    I respect his decision but it's pretty sad that he says he'll never be in a band or play live again.
    "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.
    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.
    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 ;
    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.
    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.
    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.
    as long as RHCP keeps playing songs that he wrote, he'll still keep getting some sort of royalty..
    It's not just RHCP, it's TV and radio stations, merchandise and a load other stuff. The guy's financially set for life
    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.
    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 hear him say he didn't enjoy performing (like it looked like he did) is absolutely shocking to me.
    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.
    But in that two year break he came up with The Empyrean. You're forgiven John xD Love that record!
    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.
    does'nt surprize me. He originally left because he did'nt like preforming in front of big crowds
    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.
    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.