John Frusciante (aka Trickfinger), Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist 1988 to 1992 and again from 1998 to 2009, in a new interview with electronic music resource and website Electronic Beats, gave an in depth interview regarding his recent musical endeavors (his self-titled album Trickfinger was released April 7th), his departure from the public eye (as well as his music) and historical electronic music genres such as jungle beat and acid house.
Known as a recluse, Frusciante very seldom subjects himself to interviews anymore. The interview subsequently covers the course of much of his experiences from the ’90s to the present day. On his initial feelings towards rave music and his place in music in his tenure with the Chili Peppers, Frusciante said:
“I didn’t like it. Before I joined [the Red Hot Chili Peppers], the band used to talk shit about drum machines in interviews—they kept being compared to the Beastie Boys because they were white, and a lot of their beats back then were kind of similar to jungle. They used to play really fast funk, a bit like when jungle producers speed up samples of soul and funk, so I had an ear for it. I heard jungle beats in my head long before that kind of music was ever made, it’s a logical progression from Jimi Hendrix’s Fire, drums and things like that. But during the 90s, I was in such a different world that I didn’t have any awareness of rave culture…I was a drug addict for most of the time, anyway. I had little awareness of what was going on outside of my house and the weird drug culture that I lived in, which wasn’t about ecstasy. When I stopped being a drug addict, I started going out dancing at jungle clubs and meeting people who put on raves. But yeah, I kind of missed the 90s.”
Since his second tenure with the Chili Peppers, his music increasingly moved in a direction away from the rock driven music of the Chili Peppers that initially inspired him and he eventually helped to perpetuate. The band’s 2002 album By the Way, with a noticeable electronic and new wave influence, acts as a prelude to his solo work in many ways, as he took charge of much of the instrumentation of the album, much to Flea’s distress.
Frusciante compared his imaginings of what shows would be like as 10/11 year old listening to punk records by the likes of Black Flag and the Germs to the unity of the rave scene:
“Yeah, you could hear it [the unity of the rave scene] right off the records. You didn’t have to be in the club to imagine what it was like, which is how punk was for me as a little kid. When I was into punk, I was 10 or 11 years old. I wasn’t old enough to go out to the shows, but I really wanted to. At that time in LA, violence was a big thing at punk shows, and that seemed exciting to me. I couldn’t be a part of it, so I just listened to the records and imagined the atmosphere around the music. I still feel that when I listen to old rave records from the 90s. We forget that such a big part of music is what our minds are capable of adding to it. The particular way the human mind creates or hears music is half of what the music is. Music in and of itself doesn’t has any complete value.”
Much of the interview’s dialogue is John Frusciante referencing various jungle beat tracks and tracks from other genres associated with 90’s rave culture. He noted about the differences of ideals from different scenes that, “What the imagination gives to the experience of listening is a big thing. Punk and rave and the original pioneers of rock n’ roll: those periods of music are really important because they were pure energy. The atmosphere around the music was apparent. For me, a lot of the electronic music that’s made today doesn’t seem to be made for people’s imaginations. I don’t hear a lot of atmosphere; I hear a lot of compression. It’s an unfortunate direction.”
In one way shocking and in another way not surprising at all, Frusciante announced later in the interview that he would no longer be releasing his music for the public. He reasons that, “For the last year and a half I made the decision to stop making music for anybody and with no intention of releasing it, which is what I was doing between 2008 and 2012. I felt that if I took the public into consideration at all, I wasn’t going to grow and I wasn’t going to learn. Being an electronic musician meant I had to woodshed for a while, so I have a good few years worth of material from that period that’s never been released…At this point I have no audience. I make tracks and I don’t finish them or send them to anybody, and consequently I get to live with the music. The music becomes the atmosphere that I’m living in. I either make really beautiful music that comes from classical, or I make music where the tempo is moving the whole time, and there’s no melodic or rhythmic center.”
John’s debut, Niandra Lades and Usually Just a T-Shirt, initially was not intended for public release. John’s friends like Johnny Depp, Jane’s Addiction’s Perry Farrell and the Butthole Surfers’ Gibby Haynes eventually convinced him otherwise. John has said “enough” to the one of the world’s most popular rock bands twice. The only outcomes here is that either he breaks his hiatus from releasing music, or he doesn’t. Either way, Frusciante has blessed this world with a cornucopia of music in a variety of groups and as a solo artist, which will keep fans entertained for decades. We at AlternativeNation wish John the best.
The Trickfinger LP, released April 7th, is available on iTunes and Amazon.