JF Article Archive

"Mucchio Selvaggio Interview With John Frusciante"

More than skin deep: Italian music Magazine "Il Mucchio Sevaggio" issue No. 570 features an extremely in depth and detailed interview with John Frusciante. Topics range from rare comments on reasons for John leaving the band , via his attitude to sex and relationships, to elaborations on the 4th Dimension clarifying the infamous 'voices in his head' myth... Plenty of good reading with subtantial information plus live photos by Roberta Accetulli make this a must for any John and RHCP fan.
Mucchio Selvaggio no 570 is available online and on newsstands now


Download the English translation of this interview for free here!
Much thanks to Italian John fan Federica ("Peperoncina")for translating this interview for us! PS: You Will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view this file.


"John Frusciante talks to Dan Kramer"

An in depth interview exclusively for John Frusciante Online

Our New Year's present for all John fans! This feature length, in depth interview was conducted by Dan Kramer on 15th August in London exclusively for John Frusciante Online and John's fans!

> Click here for the Interview!

Behind the Scenes: Originally this interview was planned very shortly in advance at a time when John was touring the UK summer festivals and booked out with other media engagements already. Initially there were not even supposed to be any more interviews due to the time contraints- however management made an exception when they heard this was going to be exclusively for the fans! So what would it be like to interview someone who is this busy and famous, is being inundated with questions from all sides, wherever he goes? To Dan's surprise, what may have easily been a monosyllabic tour de force within a hectic festival schedule, turned into an easygoing, flowing talk between two music enthustiasts. He found a person who was warm, open and very concentrated on his talking partner- John gave all freely, and more than was asked for! The interview turned into a wonderfully detailed, open account of John's thoughts and feelings, going a good half hour over the scheduled time. As Dan recalls John was sitting sprawled out on the couch, giving the impression he was very comfortable with the here and now, with himself, very relaxed but together simultaneously. The most surprising thing perhaps was John's openeness. "If you asked him a question it could go anywhere at all!" The overall impression was that of a person who is hopeful and optimistic about the future, and most of all who feels very free with his life, having reached a stage where he could do anything he wanted, anytime, fulfilled by doing what he loves best.

Dan Kramer was born in Texas, now lives in London working as a freelance journalist specialising in music for the BBC.

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"Space Cadet"

From: RAW Magazine
Issue: #163

John Frusciante was the guitarist for the RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS during their climb to stardom, but walked out on them during their last tour. Why? He had a premonition that he had to do it! With his first solo album due, Frusciante reveals he's living in a different dimension, man! ARTIE NELSON freaks out...

A skinny guy with bleached hair and pale skin comes down the stairs. He's wearing a blue shirt, is smoking a filterless Camel, and answers to the name of John Frusciante. Yes, THE JOHN FRUSCIANTE, ex-Red Hot Chili Pepper who's now embarking on a solo career. He sits next to me on an old two-piece shocking velvet couch from which we can take in a panoramic view of Los Angeles. With plenty of Evian water and Fruit Smoothie drinks on the table, the topic of conversation is naturally John's new album, called 'Niandra La Des And Usually Just A T-Shirt'! It's out early next year on Rick Rubin's American Recordings label.

"It has the vibe of when I was recording it" Frusciante begins. "Just for myself to trip out. It had the same kind of vibe as Jane's Addiction without drums. It seemed just as heavy. Some people are after as macho thug's presence (with the drums), but as long as the feeling of macho stud is there ..."

When did you finish the album? "About a year ago. But it's taken this long to get it out, because it was recorded so casually. I actually recorded it in my house", he says, pointing to some guitars, a bass, a clarinet-looking thing, a Moog synthesiser and a four-track. "Then I asked Rick (Rubin), 'Do you wanna put it out?', and he said yeah ... and we were excited about it. But when you're not looking at it as the big new promotion money-making object, people are slower. So it's taken a year."

Having been lucky enough to hear an advance of 'Niandra ...', I couldn't help but realise how much impact John had on the Chilis with their 1991 album, 'BloodSugarSexMagik'.

"Yeah ... it was like sixty-forty" he nods. "I wrote like, sixty percent of the music and Flea wrote forty'"

So it must have been John who gave the Chilis another dimension, helping them transcend the party Funk thing and broaden their sound.

"Yeah, I had a good time 'cos I was always looking at Flea and my amp," John nods. "Me and Flea (RHCP bassist) and Steven Perkins (drummer with Porno For Pyros) have a band. We're called the Three Amoebas. We have ten or 15 hours of stuff on tape, and it's great. There are never any dull moments ... it all f*cking flows perfectly. It doesn't have any of the things that made instrumental Rock laughable a few years down the line. So we're gonna release that, and they're the main people I'm interested in jamming with. Me and Flea jam now and then, but Steven's really busy with Porno right now. I don't really know any other musicians.

Tell us about your friendship with River Phoenix, the late actor who actually features on 'Niandra'. "Me and River used to play together. We had a sort of communication that was intense, on just two guitars."

How many tunes did you cut with him?

"We did two songs," John expands. "One's called 'Bought Her Soul', and it's the second song on the album. I recorded the song and I said to River, 'Make sounds with your voice and I'll record you backwards over this song but you're not allowed to hear the song.'

"So he made sounds into the mic while I recorded and listened to it on the headphones. That's the other voice in the background besides my voice. It went perfectly with the song. We were cosmic together."

"The other song is 'Soul Removal'. He sings and wrote the first half, and I wrote the second half, and you can hear the guitars on that. It has the thickness of a bunch of guitars, but the unity of one guitar. We weave in and out of each other in a really cool, natural way.

'Bought Your Soul' struck me as being driven by a powerful emotion.

"Syd Barrett (original Pink Floyd singer and well-known eccentric) really inspired that song. I was thinking about him a lot at that time. My girlfriend, Toni, is pretty insightful into what I'm doing,'cos I always avoid realising that I'm even in this dimension. She thinks the three major influences on the album are Syd Barrett, Robert Johnson (ancient Bluesman) and Captain Beefheart ('60s psychedelic star)."

Now seems to be as good a time as any to talk about why John left the Chili Peppers. Is it true you quite while the band were touring Japan?

"I had a weird premonition that I should quit immediately after I finished my guitar parts on ('BloodSugar ...')," John recalls. I'd say to myself, 'I know you don't have any reason to, but you've gotta quit the band'."

"But I couldn't bring myself to do it, because I knew they (The Chilis) wouldn't let me. It wouldn't make sense to them. But I had this feeling that the road was really gonna f*ck with me. The road had been f*cking with Flea for so many years, and it'd be bad of me to have quit then, but I was sure I should do it."

"It just had to do with my subconscious and my development as a person and spirit," he continues. "I felt like a guy with 400 ghosts telling him what to do all the time. I just wanted to lay back on the couch and think about nothing, and that's what I did till I went on tour, aside from one miserable two-week European interview thing."

"The unity hadn't been good with the band for ages. Anthony (Kiedis - singer) and I hadn't talked for a couple of tours, and we didn't look at each other much onstage. So Flea took me to the park and said, 'Is there anything you like about being in the band?', and I said 'No, I'm just in the band 'cos I love you. I love playing with you, and I don't want to just leave you, but there's nothing I like about being in the band.'"

"And he said, 'I guess you shouldn't do it just for me'. He understood, but he didn't think about it for the next year. So when I quit it was a shock. To them, it seemed like it was getting better as far as the getting along went. But I didn't wanna do it anymore. I was really happy, like my own version of happy, in outer space every time I would look at Flea's eyes, or my amp, or Chad's (Smith - drums) foot. But the popularity thing bummed me out."

"It's not like I'm against popularity," John admits. "When I was 17 and I was at the last Chili Peppers show I ever saw before joining them, Hillel (Slovak, the Chili's original guitarist who died of a heroin overdose) asked me, 'Would you still like the Chilis if they got so popular they played the LA Forum?'"

"I said, 'No. It would ruin the whole thing that's great about the band. The audience feels no different from the band at all.' There was this real kind of historical vibe at their shows, none of the frustration that runs through the audience when they jump around and can't get out of their seat. I didn't even watch the shows. I'd get so excited that I'd flip around the slam pit the whole time. I really felt like a part of the band, and all the sensitive people in the audience did, too. So I couldn't picture the band playing the LA Forum, and when we got to that point of popularity it bugged me for that and a number of other reasons."

Since completing 'Niandra ...', much of which was written at the same time as 'BloodSugar ...', Frusciante has come up with 70 other songs.

"My whole object as a musician - no matter who I'm playing with - is to get as far away from myself as possible," John admits. "The further I am away from the situation, the better the music is. I feel like I'm letting the air play with me, and the air makes the music and I'm just an outline within that. The air that surrounds me is the actual walking person and this bit of flesh in between is just a blob," he laughs.

"Did you ever try to disappear, actually to be in another universe, when you shut your eyes? I used to do things onstage to trick myself. Like tell myself I'm gonna start this solo on this fret note, then when it gets to the last second I'm not allowed to get to that fret, and I have to start somewhere else."

"Or I'll tell the audience that this song is dedicated to the baby born right now. But when it gets to the solo, the audience thinks they're thinking about the same baby as me but we're really thinking of two different babies. That kinda thing."

"You have to make fun of yourself. I'd just think it was a joke whatever I played, like what I played was ridiculous, and they'd go, 'That was so beautiful', what I'd just played for the album ('BloodSugar...'). And I'd just think it was full of shit."

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"Rolling Stone Article"

From: Rolling Stone Magazine
Issue: February 2001

John Frusciante
"To Record Only Water For Ten Days"
*** out of ***** Stars

Fans of john frusciante's wondrously wigged-out solo albums- 1995's Niandra La'Des and Usually Just a T-Shirt, and 1997's Smile from the streets you hold- will be flummoxed by the lucidity of To Record only Water for 10 days.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers' resident guitar savant is on the mend from years of opiated hermithood; his 3rd record is both a testament to his survival and an homage to his inspired madness. His song structures are more linear now, as on tracks like the relativily straightforward ambient-folk song "Remain",but they still serve as conduits for his beautiful old eccentricies. "The First Season" combines acoustic guitar and synthesizer into a gentle backdrop for the singer's lyrical return to "my cell of space that holds me"; "Saturation" uses a wave of electronic orchestration - coupled with Frusciante's nuanced guitar playing- to carry a narrative of unraveling inner reaches and memories of "what I could have been."

To Record Only Water For Ten Days lacks the flushes of experimental brilliance found on Frusciante's earlier albums, but it quietly reaffirms the promise of a songwriter who is simutaneosly impentrable, strange and oddly magnificent.

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"JOHN FRUSCIANTE - "WATER MUSIC" "

From: Rock Sound' Magazine
Issue: #21, February 2001

With the release of his third solo album, Red Hot Chili Peppers' guitarist John Frusciante bares his soul to Rock Sound on the subjects of life, love... and yoga.

John Frusciante is speaking from his home, a hotel apartment in Hollywood. Lying on his bed, he's talking softly about the problems that saw him leave the Chili Peppers after 'Blood Sugar Sex Magik'. There seems to be some interference, but there's nothing wrong with the phone line. It takes a few minutes to work out that it's just the beating of the guitarists soul...

"I didn't quit playing music because of drugs," he explains honestly, "I quit playing music because I wanted to quit playing music, and drugs were something I took to self-medicate myself, to deal with the things that had made it ugly to me. It worked y'know, it worked, I mean during the course of time there were some really rough times, but in the back of my head I think I felt how it was going to come out and I was never scared. Even when times got really bad I just had a feeling that there was a higher reason for them being that way. I always felt good about myself, I always loved myself, and as long as I had a certain spiritual energy around me I was happy. It didn't matter if I was starving, it didn't matter if I had to be sick, what mattered was that I knew who I was and I was always proud of that, being who I am."

There's something in Frusciantes voice that sounds like childhood, a frankness that taps gently at your heart. He has resolved the problems that engulfed his songwriting, the problems that threatened to swallow him whole, and now he's completely clean. "I don't need to take drugs," he notes quietly, but emphatically, "I feel so much more high all the time right now because of the type of momentum that a person can get going when you really dedicate yourself to something that you really love. I don't even consider doing them, they're completely silly. Between my dedication to trying to constantly be a better musician and eating my health foods and doing yoga, I feel so much more high that I did for the last few years of doing drugs."

CHILDHOOD MEMORIES

The feeling is such that, not content to rest on his laurels until later in the year, when the Red Hot Chili Peppers will start work on the follow-up to the frankly astounding 'Californication', he has spent his in between time working on a new album. 'To Record Only Water For Ten Days' is his third solo effort, and it's out this month. "It has something to do with getting yourself into a state of being pure and being open," John observes, carefully trying to explain the emotion of the record, "and therefore being able to give yourself to this physical dimension by having a sort of purity that has nothing to do with this dimension." If that's kind of hard to understand, then it's just an extension of an album so sublime it really is hard to find explanatory words.

The honesty of the record, however, is overpowering, and Frusciante, who at times comes across as so sensitive he might shatter, connects a lot of it to that feeling of childhood. "I got into the music that I'm into at a pretty young age," he recalls, "I found new wave, and punk shortly after that, when I was nine or ten years old, and it came at the perfect time, because I was feeling completely lost and I had too much pain in me, and I didn't know what to do with it. I knew I didn't want to do anything bad to other people with it, but it was that intense where if I hadn't had music to put it into, if I hadn't had that soothing feeling of knowing that Darby Crash, the singer of The Germs, was feeling a certain pain that was so much like my own, that I had a friend y'know..."

Frusciante, willingly or otherwise, constantly skips over the details of his childhood, the things that made him feel like this at the age of nine but, while candid, he does note that, "They weren't things that were in my conscious memory. I had always been good, especially at the ages of four, five, six when something really awful happened, at being able to forget it almost immediately. Those things really came out in around '91 or '92, it was almost like meeting yourself as a child or something, because it came back to me like I wa actually feeling physical pain in my body. When nobody was there, I felt like somebody was kicking me in the legs.

DON'T GIVE UP

The power that music has to connect people to each other has always been one of the guitarists driving forces. It is, he emphasises, "One of the main reasons why I feel like it's important for me to do what I do for a living. To me, it's the most beautiful way of soothing peoples pain. I think people often don't think about what the planet would be like without music. There are so many people doing beautiful things in music, people complain about the world and stuff, but so many people are doing their damnedest to make it beautiful by making music. So many people are trying to create these invisible places that anyone who wants to can feel with music, theres so much of it and there always has been, there's always so much to find out about."

"There's always so much to find out about." Something that John, still only 30, knows all too well. At the age of 18, he joined the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He was already a fan, and he says it took a year and a half before he saw them as actual human beings rather than rock stars. He then quit the band, and lost himself in heroin- he admits that a year of that period is still a complete blank- before joining up again to become part of the team that delivered 'Californication' to the world. In writing some of the best guitar pieces ever, John Frusciante has, perhaps inadvertently, indelibly etched himself upon out lives, and now he is completely confident that every year from here on in will be one that he can, and wants to, remember.

"At this point i'm the happiest person in the world," he says, his heart in his hands. "These things do not f--- with me at all, and I'm so proud of that, you don't know how proud I am. It's such a beautiful thing to be able to face life, to face yourself, without hiding behind drugs, without having to have anger towards people who love you. There are people who are scared of losing stuff, but you don'y lose anything for any other reason than if you just give up on yourself." And John, you can be sure, has no intention of giving up on anything ever again.

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"Kerrang! Article"

From: Pitchfork Online E-zine
Issue: #21, February 2001

JOHN FRUSCIANTE
'To Record Only Water For Ten Days'
(Warner Brothers)
KKKK
Third experimental solo album from the Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist.

SOLO ALBUMS are odd concepts. It often makes you wonder whether musicians are truly happy with their lot or perhaps it's simply because it gives the artist a chance to flex their creative - and in this case, tattooed - muscles outside the musical boundaries imposed by their day job.

Red Hot Chili Pepper John Frusciante quietly released his debut 'Niadra Lades And Usually Just A T-Shirt' in 1994 - two years after walking out on the Chili Peppers midway through a Japanese tour - at the behest of his celebrity friends Perry Farrell, Butthole Surfer's Gibby Haynes and the now deceased River Phoenix. They believed that "there's no good music anymore" and thought perhaps Frusciante's guitar genius could remedy the situation. The baby-faced guitarist was, however, suffering from depression and strung-out on heroin. The resultant lo-fi, self-produced effort was, to commercial ears, an unlistenable din only momentarily revealing his unbridled talent that helped elevate the Chili Peppers to worldwide superstars with his performances on 1989's 'Mother's Milk' and 1991's genre-defining 'Blood Sugar Sex Magik'. The album sunk without trace, only managing to shift 45,000 copies worldwide. Conclusive proof that the drugs don't work, and do infact, make it worse.

Even 1997's 'Smile From The Streets You Hold' served only to show a sorrowful mindset of a junkie, and Frusciante himself admitted he recorded and released the album purely for drug money. Thankfully, self-determination freed the guitarist from the jaws of being another heroin-related waste of talent and cleaned-up his act, eventually rejoining the Chili Pepper ranks for 1999's 'Californication'.

Now totally sober and a yoga devotee, 'To Record Only Water For Ten Days' reflects the guitarist's new found respect for life and while it retains the fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants experimental touches which were evident on his first two albums, there is a profound sense of optimism and stunning songwriting in evidence, most notably on the touching 'The First Season'. Although this is a solo album in every sense of the word - Frusciante wrote and performed all of the instruments on this album - there isn't a over-riding cloud of self-indulgence that often blights the simplest song on your common or garden solo project.

Opening track 'Going Inside' sets a precedent of positivity with the words "You don't throw your life away", while a distorted squeal prefaces a stream of sensitive guitar flourishes and impassioned vocals, while 'Remain' is a bastardized blues paean for the millennium, an acoustic refrain competes with an insistent drum machine pattern with startling effect.

'Murderers' nutures a simple riff reminiscent of 'Head (Beach Arab)' from his debut album and is gradually coated in a pop vocal melody arriving at a sublime conclusion. However, 'The First Season' is the undoubted highlight of the album. Remaining consistent with the album's simplistic nature, John flexes a delicate vocal melody against a tearjerking string section.

While it's safe to say fans of the Red Hot Chili Peppers will get a surprise when they realise 'To Record Water For Ten Days' certainly doesn't lend itself to the libidinous nature of his funk-metal dayjob, yet even the most cursory of listens will leave you wanting to hear more. A lo-fi gem.

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"Pitchfork Review"

From: Pitchfork Online E-zine
URL: www.pitchfork.com

John Frusciante

Smile From The Streets You Hold

[Birdman]

Rating: 0.0

Seriously now. Frusciante used to be the guitarist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers and there've been all sorts of rumors and probably some truths about crazy-ass drug abuse, insanity and his all-out disappearance. Smile For The Streets You Hold would easily have to be the easiest CD to hate that I've ever heard, but hidden between the disturbingly twisted and tortured vocals there are a few gems. Occasionally a riff emerges from the noise with the perfect clarity of a single snowflake, only to melt into the tumult again. Lyrics that are beyond scream, his voice shattering to bits in mid- incomprehensible verse, alongside sweet, feeling guitar melodies. Hard shit. Looking into someone's soul without sunglasses.

I saw a Frusciante BB somewhere filled with believers hailing him as a genius, as an inspiration, as true unrecognized genius. People wanted to know if River Phoenix had done the vocals on "Height Down." An artist somewhere tells us that "John is no more mad than this message is a coatrack. He is simply a genius." Another says, "No words have taught me more than the ones coming from John Frusciante's mouth." Let's agree that it's fringe -- way, way out there. I'm giving it a 0% because you'll have to call this one on your own, sorry.

James P. Wisdom

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"Till I Reach the Higher Ground"

From: Guitar Player Magazine
Issue: November '97

After Hitting Rock Bottom, Ex-Chili Pepper John Frusciante Confronts Life and Art on His Own Terms...

John Frusciante sits under a rose-colored archway in the hills above Los Angeles, clutching a pack of cigarettes and a one-hitter of pot. He's barely recognizable at first. With a tousled mane of Jim Morrison-style hair, a huddled posture and oddly matched clothes, he looks more like a sleepless, absent-minded philosophy student than a rock star. Gone is the buff, mohawk-sporting 18-year-old who once energized arenas with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, co-wrote hits like "Under the Bridge" and "Breaking the Girl," and stripped funk-rock guitar to its raw essentials on Blood Sugar Sex Magik.

His first two solo records, 1994's difficult Niandra Lades [American] and the even darker Smile From the Streets You Hold [Birdman, 1409 W. Magnolia, Burbank, CA 91506], reflect even less of his former persona. Composed of splintered solo acoustic/electric 4-track bedroom demos rife with backward guitar, howling vocals, enigmatic lyrics and bare-bones guitar arrangements, they are the aural documents of an idealistic, 27-year-old who quit one of the world's biggest bands at its creative peak, descended into heroin addiction and barely made it out alive.

It was only in the last few weeks of 1996 that Frusciante was finally able to kick the three-year habit that contributed to the loss of his Hollywood Hills home and the gradual deterioration of his body; earlier this year, John's remaining teeth were removed and replaced by dentures in order to avoid a life-threatening infection. His right forearm appears badly burned, and his speech, though filled with interesting insights and word games, is slurred and erratic.

A voracious music listener, talented painter and devotee of tragic, fallen angels like Syd Barrett, Marc Bolan, Kurt Cobain and Sid Viscious, Frusciante is a mixture of passion, self-taught cultural erudition and n_ivet_ Ñ particularly regarding rock and roll mythology. He constantly refers to death in the warmest possible terms. "Death is a place I'm really looking forward to being in," he says later, strumming a vintage Gibson acoustic in a small room crammed with videos, CDs and art books on Van Gogh, Duchamp, Basquiat and Da Vinci. "I can also be very happy in this life, but it's usually happiness that I get from other lives I've lived and other dimensions. This life is hardly important to me. It's very small compared to the importance that I think the fourth and fifth dimension have. Those places are much more real to mee, like when you have a dream and it's more real to you than real life. Compared to where I'll be going, this life seems like a dream that just feels like a dream."

The recent release of Smile, new sessions in producer Jimmy Boyle's L.A. studio, an interest in releasing tapes of 3 Amoebas (his improv trio with Flea and Janes Addiction drummer Stephen Perkins) and his participation in this summer's Nuttstalk tour with members of P-Funk and Fishbone represent Frusciante's first forays back into the land of the living. But it's an uneasy peace he maintains with what we call reality. " I think the reason he embraces death so much," says his friend and former bandmate Flea, "is that he wants his spirit to be free. He really doesn't care about being alive in the physical world."

Listening to Smile From the Streets You Hold can be unnerving. Raw, vulnerable and stream-of-consciousness, it's a dark ode to the demons and spirits that inhabit Frusciante's head Ñ the sound of an extremely talented guitarist in search of himself. "The title song was a very intense moment," says Frusciante quietly, "because I was having verbal communication with the spirits while I was recording, and I started crying at the end of it. The spirits give you ideas for things, and what's important to them is what's important to me. I'm much more concerned with my fame in their world than with my fame in this one. That's why it's been difficult for me to adjust to being alive at all."

John Frusciante was born in New York in 1970 to John and Gail Frusciante. John Sr. was a Juilliard-trained pianist who became a lawyer and later a judge. Gail, too , was a promising musician, a singer who became a homemaker, says her son, because her husband ruled out the possibility of a musical career, though she now sings for her church and provided the background vocals on "Under the Bridge." The family lived in Queens, relocated to Tuscon, Arizona, and then moved to Florida for a year, during which time John's parents separated. Moving with his mother to Santa Monica, California, John, like a million other California kids, became obsessed with skateboarding, Aerosmith and KISS.

By age nine he was already a budding punk rocker, wearing out copies of the Germs' G.I. record. By ten he'd figured out most of the Germs songs in his own tuning that allowed him to play everything with a single-finger barre. It was a habit he'd have to break as he started lessons a year later while living in nearby Mar Vista with his mom and new stepdad, an avid philosophy reader and black belt who listened to Beethoven and '50s R&B but "understood where punk rock was coming from. He really supported me and made me feel good about being an artist."

From the Germs, John graduated to Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and Jimi Hendrix, tackled the almighty barre chord and blues scale, and began pursuing increasingly complicated rock like King Crimson, Yes, early Genesis and Frank Zappa, whose work he'd study for hours, learning solos and syncopations in detail. Captain Beefheart, the Residents and other out-rock prophets became John's pantheon, and by 17 he'd dropped out of high school and moved to Los Angeles, where he and a friend figured a way to punch in for classes at G.I.T. without actually attending in order to appease their parents' desire that they get an education. He even showed up at a Zappa audition, only to leave the rehearsal room before stepping up to the plate. Cold feet? "Nah. I realized that I wanted to be a rock star, do drugs and get girls, and that I wouldn't be able to do that if I was in Zappa's band."

In 1988 Frusciante first jammed with Michael Balzary, a.k.a. Flea, the bass player of his favorite local band, the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Frusciante had begun jamming with former Dead Kennedys drummer D.H. Peligro, who would soon temporarily replace Jack Irons in the Peppers, and when Peligro learned of the young guitarist's fascination with the band, he invited John to jam with him and Flea at Flea's house on Fairfax Avenue. Less than a year later, following original guitarist Hillel Slovak's fatal heroin overdose and a short collaboration with former Funkadelic guitarist Blackbyrd McKnight. Flea called the 18-year-old Frusciante with the news: He was the new Chili Peppers guitarist. "There were bootmarks five feet high on the wall in my room for months after that call," Frusciante remembers.

"He was just a kid when he joined," says Flea, "totally overexuberant about everything. His playing was amazing. He was technically very competent and much more theoretically knowledgable than I was, with a bit of the Steve Vai guitar wizard damage. I've always relied on intuition and emotion to get me through, and I think that concept is something he latched onto real quickly."

From the start Frusciante wrote with the band. "Pretty Little Ditty" was salvaged from his and Flea's first jam, and the hit "Knock Me Down" (a knockoff of Zeppelin's "The Wanton Song") took the band's writing to a new level of tunefulness and economy. By the recording of the enormously successful Blood Sugar Sex Magik in 1991, Frusciante had developed into an intuitive and technically astute player who played funk as if it were second nature. "But I wasn't really a funk player before I joined the band," says Frusciante. "I learned everything I needed to know about how to sound good with Flea by studying Hillel's playing, and I just took it sideways from there."

It was a half-hour before showtime at a gig in Japan in 1992 when Frusciante announced his intention to leave the group. "He just said, 'I can't do it. I can't play anymore,'" says Flea. "He didn't even want to play that night, so we had to beg him to do the last gig." Frusciante's disaffection had been brewing for months. "Toward the end you could tell that his playing was angry at the band. If the band got really soft, he'd start playing louder, and vice versa. He did it just to be anti. He was really hating it, so as much as I loved playing with him, it was a huge relief when he left."

When i quit the band I couldn't do anything but lay on the couch depressed, and then I became a junkie and came to life and started playing music again," Frusciante told L.A.'s New Times in late '96. Earlier that year, he said, he had nearly died, as a result of his body having "a twelfth of the blood it's supposed to have, and that blood was infected." John's house in the Hollywood Hills became notorious for its horrific mess and graffiti-covered walls ("My eye hurts" and "Stabbing pain with discipline's knife" were among the scrawled epithets), and after an accidental fire and difficulty with payments, John eventually moved out, bouncing through a succession of short-lived stays at the Chateau Marmont and the Mondrian. Due to the arrest of a friend under whose name the room was booked, John's many notebooks, crammed with poetry, mathematics, word games, drawings and story ideas, are presently locked away in the Mondrian. He wants them back, but his concern is less for his past work than for what's going through his head at any given moment.

"All he wants to do is be creative," says Flea. "He doesn't care about money or personal hygiene or anything else. And he never has. If we made $10,000, he'd give it to the pizza delivery guy. He only cares about art." Flea, a former drug user himself, tells Frusciante what he thinks about his habits. "John once told me, 'I don't have a problem with drugs, you have a problem with me doing drugs.' In retrospect, I realize, yeah, I do have a problem with drugs. I do have a problem with friends dying. It makes me really fucking sad. I don't want him to do any drugs at all, and I tell him that. That's all I can do as someone who loves and respects him."

by James Rotondigic."

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"Spirit in the Material World"

From: Bikini Magazine
Issue: August 1997

Ex Chili Pepper guitartist John Frusciante is exorcising his demons these days with the paintbrush and a bevy of musical side projects. Jamie O'Shea drops by the studio.

John Frusciante's life after quitting the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1992, due to touring stress and rumored personality clashes, wasn't a pretty picture. Everyone knew what he was doing locked away in the Hollywood Hills mansion that rock stardom had built. He was a big boy fucking up in the privacy of his own home. It was a time that saw a sharp transfer of power between John's artistic demons.

"After I quit the band," he explains, taking a slow, deep breath, "I was much more interested in painting than playing music. I'd stay up painting for three days in a row and fall asleep with my face in a painting. I wasn't playing music at all, but then I got side-tracked singing along with records while I was drawing, and picked up my guitar again just to record stuff at home." These were the sometimes brilliant, fiercely anti-commercial works that were to make up his first solo album, Niandra Lades And Usually Just A T-Shirt, released in 1994. It was a compilation of songs that shocked the hell out of anyone expecting to hear another installment of Chili Pepper funk.

Frusciante's paintings and four-track recordings, including his latest album, Smile From the Streets You Hold, an offering laced with tortured, often incomprehensible singing and inspired strands of guitar, especially present in the seemingly autobiographical "I May Again Know John" - reveal perhaps more about his artist's soul than any aspect of his career. Intensely personal, John's paintings, layered with scrawling coats of acrylic paint and fat grease stick swirls, are like haunted children's drawings that channel a deep, resonating presence. Like an exorcism of the demons haunting him alone in that house to put to canvas.

"With painting, man," Frusciante enthuses, his now excited voice picking up to a frenzied pace, "you just never know when something fuckin' scary's going to happen. You could be happy doin' it, and all of a sudden, you're bombarded with spirits that don't understand anything about privacy," he says with a laugh.

Eventually, the ghosts that made their presence known in John's paintings gave way to the ones guiding his nether-worldly guitar playing to help construct much of Smile From the Streets You Hold's new material. "I can't do both of them [music and painting] at the same time." John explains. "You have a different form of ghost telling you what to do. With music you can just receive energy from other dimensions, but with painting, you have ghosts coming from the other dimension right into your reality. They demand all your attention when they're there."

The resulting recordings, which mingle with older material (including a song recorded at age 17 - just before he joined the Chili Peppers), form a disturbing stream-of-consciousness set that transcends the parameters of rock & roll. "John's [new] music seems to go beyond music, doesn't it?" muses his friend Stephen Perkins, Porno for Pyros drummer and member of The Three Amoebas, a jam band featuring himself, Frusciante, and Flea. The group has been recording as a side project since the later days of Jane's Addiction and has borne witness to some of Frusciante's funkiest playing since his stint as a Chili Pepper. "I feel like I'm being pressed between two magnets when I play with those guys - the vibe is so intense," says Perkins. "John's right hand is like a rubber band, he's just got that incredible rhythm hand. It always comes through."

In addition to the music Frusciante is planning to record and release with a band tentatively featuring close friends Chris Warren of Thelonius Monster and Fishbone's Norwood Fisher (the duo that made up John's supporting band on the recent Nuttstalk '97 tour), the freeform Three Amoebas jams may also reach record stores in the near future.

"Steve and I are going to work on putting that stuff together to release soon. It's some of the best stuff we've ever done...I've got about 30 songs that I've been saving to record with a new band that doesn't sound anything like my last two albums," Frusciante explains. For John, recording music with his friends seems to be the inspiration in his new approach to playing. "I'm excited to be playing with a band, working on songs I like. Stuff I can play for my friends," he says.

It's good to hear him excited again. The past year has seen one of John's most productive periods in a long time. From playing impromptu sets at L.A.'s infamous Viper Room and Small's, to doing the seemingly impossible after leaving the Chili Peppers - John Frusciante appears to be on the path to elevating himself above the realm of the overly-talented junkie rock star cliche'.

Though he skirts the topic of his heroin use in conversation (If I do something like drugs, it's just for fun....") it's clear that John's still being chased by some intense personal demons. Maybe because he's their perfect channel.

"There are few people," says Stephen Perkins, "that can go to the spiritual places John does - and come back to tell you about it. He's a good piece of magic."

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"Warp Article"

From: Warp magazine
Issue: Vol 4 #2

Sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to understand. So it goes with John Frusciante. His solo album, Niandra LaDes and Usually Just a T-Shirt, was recorded on a four-track. The 24 tunes are mostly only him playing guitar and singing. Occasionally, a few other voices or piano join in. He twists a channel here and there, varying its speed or reversing it. Still, the truth is that Niandra redefines music in a way that's totally incomprehensible to the rational mind. But then, John Frusciante is not a rational kind of guy.

"I didn't write that music because I wanted to get across a song," he relates. "I wrote it because I was in a really big place in my head-it was a huge, spiritual place telling me what to do. As long as I'm obeying those forces, it's always going to be meaningful. I could be playing guitar and I could say 'Play something that sucks,' and if I'm in that place, it's gonna be great. And it has nothing to do with me, except in ways that can't be understood,"

Frusciante's record is meant to be experienced, not analyzed. You drift within the meandering melodies. It's scary because the roads are so unfamiliar and illogical. But it's also warm, like a caress ­ there's a haunting, evocative touch within its broad spaces.

"If you're willing to give yourself up to the place that the music is offering," John asserts, "it will take you somewhere that's good. There isn't much of that nowadays. Kids really need a place like that, where everything that's surrounding you is giving you affection. They don't get it at all from anything ­ not music, not even parents, not even friends. That's why I put the album out."

John's music was never meant to be released. He worked on it apart from his duties as guitarist for Red Hot Chili Peppers. He began playing around with different ideas about six months after the band finished touring for Mother's Milk. The last of these songs ­ or musical trips- was recorded six months after he left the Chili Peppers during the tour behind Blood Sugar Sex Magic. Although he doesn't discuss why he left the band, it's clear that he was uncomfortable with the ego and restrictions that go hand in hand with rock stardom. "You've gotta really know how to be nothing to go to the coolest places," he says of the creative process. "Being a rock star, it's really hard to do that, and live life and be happy at the same time."

Eventually, American Recordings convinced Frusciante to put out these moody, strangely whimsical tracks. He agreed, as long as they made no changes whatsoever. Nobody could have done a thing with them anyway ­ there's a creative purity that belongs only to John's inspiration. There are no structures, no hard and fast rules.

"I don't mean to say that musically there's no restraint and no limitations," John insists, "because that's how I feel one needs to approach it ­ to tell yourself you're only allowed to play two notes in the next ten seconds. But in another sense, I have no limitations as far as applying my feelings and my influences and the way I see the rhythm of the cosmos."

For John Frusciante, that kind of vision is as necessary as air is to life. In fact, he reasons, creativity and air are similar in nature.

"I think the air's the more important than solid things," he muses. "That's where the music comes from, a place that free."

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"Chilly Pepper"

From: High Times Magazine
Issue: July 95'

Three years ago, guitarist John Frusciante left the Red Hot Chili Peppers for greener pastures. If you see him getting high in 1995, don't knock him down.

John Frusciante's abrupt departure from the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1992 was as improbable as his induction four years earlier. When he joined, following the death of original guitarist Hillel Slovak. Frusciante had never been in a band; his only credential was his status as the world's biggest Chili Peppers fan, the 18-year-old kid who spent his nights going to all of their shows and his days alone in his bedroom honing his embryonic chops on their repertoire. And when he quit, in the midst of a Japanese tour and just two months before the band was scheduled to headline that year's Lollapalooza tour, the Peppers were riding high on the runaway success of their mainstream breakthrough, Blood Sugar Sex Magik (Warner Bros.), an album that owed much to Frusciante's soulful expansion of the band's overall palette.

Increasingly frustrated by the mega-venue shows that the band was playing in support of Blood Sugar and personality conflicts with frontman Anthony Kiedis, he'd become anything but a fan. "After we were finished recording Blood Sugar I pretty much knew I wanted to leave," Frusciante recalls. "I'd had a really beautiful time recording it, and I didn't want to go on tour. It seemed like the anithesis of everything I found beautiful about that album. The direction the band was going in was totally against what I was about."

Frusciante retreated to L.A., where he immersed himself in painting and four-track recordings he'd begun during the Blood Sugar sessions, which eventually became his solo debut, Niandra Lades and Usually Just a T-Shirt (American). For those familiar with his work with the Chili Peppers, Niandra Lades is a revelation, both disturbingly intimate and cryptically veiled. Ladeled straight out of the guitarist's stream of consciousness, it's worlds away from the up-front, balls-out funk assault of his former band. Sparely orchestrated, with Frusciante's howled non sequiturs backed up only by his interstellar guitar, there's an ethereal, otherworldly quality to the album, reminiscent of Syd Barrett's postbreakdown solo experiments.

"The whole point of recording all this stuff was just to smoke pot and trip out," Frusciante explains. "I was stoned for every single note I played on the album."

Even as Kiedis was singing, "If you see me getting high, knock me down" ("The stupidest lyrics I've ever heard," blanches Frusciante), the guitarist was already making the transition from burning up scales to blazing buds for musical inspiration.

"Growing up, I didn't smoke pot or do any drugs, because the way I was practicing had less to do with color and more to do with developing myself technique-wise," he says. "The kids who smoked pot just seemed like burnouts to me. I was practicing ten to fifteen hours a day. But I never felt like I was expressing myself. When I found out Flea was stoned out of his mind at every show, that inspired me to be a pothead. I hadn't had that image of a pothead, he's certainly not a burnout.

"Pot put me in a position where I could walk far away from my playing and hear it in the second person. It helped me step away from myself. I stopped seeing the guitar as a thing I'm holding in my hands and started seeing it as a thing that's at one with outer space and nothingness."

Far from the maddening crowds and happily detached from the star-making machinery, the fully-greened Frusciante speaks of his music in spiritual terms and, like most spiritual quests, its meaning remains elusive, even to Frusciante.

"There's a big place I'm connected to when I write," the guitarist reports. "As long as I have the feeling inside me that I'm connected to this huge, peaceful, beautiful place, no matter what I write, if it's in conjunction with that place, it's always gonna have meaning. It's not really necessary to truly understand what I write, as long as I've got that feeling behind me."

by Tim Kenneally

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"Frusciante Steps Out With American Set"

From: Billboard Magazine
Issue: October 1, 1994

LOS ANGELES - Add to the annals of unusual, individualistic solo albums American Recordings' self-titled solo debut by ex-Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante. It will fit right in with the disquieting solo set "Oar" by Moby Grape guitarist Alexander Spence, some of Boston bizarro Michael Hurley's best, and the collected works of Texas original Daniel Johnston.

The record, due Nov. 8, is a nearly indescribable, 28-track opus that features Frusciante singing and accompanying himself on electric and acoustic guitars, often over a bed of reversed and hand-manipulated tapes.

The musician apparantly is unconcerned that Chili Peppers fans - who are familiar with his funk-laden work on "Mother's Milk" and the group's multiplatinum "Blood Sugar Sex Magik" - might be daunted by the new album's elusive experimentalism.

"If they have any imagination, if their heads are capable of tripping out, they'll get it," Frusciante says.

Much of [the album] was composed while the Chili Peppers were recording "Blood Sugar" in L.A. nearly three years ago. It was recorded over a period of couple of years on a home four-track machine, prior to and following Frusciante's departure from the Chili Peppers in mid-1992.

With the exception of a couple of unnamed women who offer vocal support, the only other performer on the album is actor River Phoenix, who died of a drug overdose last October. Phoenix is heard (in one case on a reversed tape) on the songs "Bought Her Soul" and "Soul Removal."

"I don't have anybody to play with anymore," Frusciante says in reference to Phoenix.

Typical of the eccentricity of the project, nearly half of the tracks on [the album] are untitled. Frusciante says at first he didn't even want to put his name on the album: "I wanted to create some freak-out guy from the '60s, who I would play as a character."

He adds that larger plans for the music on the album are possible. "I hired a guy to write it out for string quartet. The whole second half of it was written for string quartet."

Considering that a record as unconventional as Frusciante's affords few possibilities for commercial radio, and that American at this point is not contemplating a video for the project, the label will seek to engage old fans and develop a groundswell of interest among hip consumers.

American's national sales manager Dave Garbarino says, "We want to go to his fan base who know him as a good guitar player, who know that he played with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and mobilize that. There's going to be a lot of press and in-store play, and the avant-garde retail people are really excited about this record.

Danny Ornelas, who leads American Recordings' alternative retail-marketing efforts, is getting involved in the project on the ground floor.

Ornelas says, "We're really utilizing independent stores for the John Frusciante record, because it's going to take a lot of word of mouth from those stores. So I've been talking to those stores a lot about this record. I'm going to get them some advances, and get them to start talking about the record... Then people can decide for themselves if they like it or not."

Initial reaction to informal spins of the record has been dramatic, says Ornelas, who notes that record store personnel say, "Oh my God, this is insane." Adds Ornelas, "They freak out about it, and it's not a bad freak-out. It really hits 'em, it really shocks 'em, and it makes 'em talk about it."

Ornelas admits that major chains might be standoffish about the album. "As far as in-store play, they can't really play stuff that has the kind of language that's on this record."

He concedes that expecting in-store play for a song titled "You Pussy's Glued To A Building" is "kinda pushing it for a Musicland."

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"Assault & Peppers: Sex is a Many Blendered Thing"

From: Cream Magazine
Issue: Vol 2, #1, July 1991

Their reputation precedes them. Lyrics that would send Sinead running to the Iceman's arms for comfort. Arrests for indecent exposure and sexual battery. Those celebrated single-sock costumes. That's a nice girl like me...? Maybe because I'm from Brookyln, the birthplace of obnoxious, I landed this most coveted assignment. Or perhaps it's due to my informal but extensive study of Suburban White Boy Syndrome, the peticular condition that turns middle-class males of certain age and ethnicity against their roots --- in this case, using any means possible not to be perceived as the Luke Warm Silly Peckers. Whatever, I am summoned. So I Come.

I set out to profile a hard-smirking funk & roll band. But I get more. Much, much more. Fortunately, penicillin proves remedial. But seriously folks, most of what I get from the Red Hot Chili Peppers dashes those preconceived notions. I hardly imagine such magnanimous generosity, for one thing. After all, it takes a very giving group to invite a writer into the studio while still in process of recording an album. Not just any album, but BloodSugarSexMagik, the multi-million dollar dealer, their first with Warner Bros. after blowing off long-time label EMI.

And this is no sterile, ordinary studio either, but a pruportedly haunted house in L.A's Laurel Canyon. The spook nest known as Big House has been prepared for the Peppers with fresh-cut flowers, equipment and intruments (including a grand piano, a toy grand piano and a didgeridoo), Lakers posters and a respectfully thumbed copy of thier bible, Modern Primitives. Quite a nurturing environment, conducive not only to recording but big-time male bonding. As if any is necessary. Both Balley Boy guitarist John Frusciante, the die-hard fan who replaced the late Hillel Slovak, and Detroit drummer Chad Smith, who stomped in after Jack Irons dropped out as a way to deal with Slovak's lethal overdose in 1988, are born Peppers. Despite the former's marked resemblance to Bambi and the latter's to a bandannaed Saskwatch.

On the afternoon of my visit, producer Rick Rubin is not evidence, but a number of shuffling knob-twisters types are, plus the ubiquitious Brit with a video camera who's been filming the entire time ("But it's not going to be a Rockumentary", affirms front-Pepper Anthony Kiedis. "It's a cockumentary.") Before you start hurling accusations of misogyny, let me assure you there are ladies present. A bubbly, bustiered hair dresser. A silent, mini-skirted blonde who never raises her eyes and whose sole function seems to be ashtray emptying. A publisist with an eager smile and a smattering of braids. Most charming of all, a lovely, articulate young woman who keeps all the burners blazing in the kind of dream kitchen that would tent Graham Kerr's apron.

So why do the Chili Peppers let a journalist invade their idyll? "Because we're proud. We're proud of every note in every song" say Michael Balzary--- that's Flea to you. The bass player is buzzed close to the brain these days and sports one of those Mr.Ziffel chin shrubs that begs to be yanked. "We're tighter than a hemorroid on a mosquito's ass" adds Anthony for emphasis. The man that some see as a cross between Peter Pan and KIller Bob has dressed for this occasion. he's wearing pants.

But it's time to bring the noise. One of the aforementioned konb-twisters, who looks rather pleased after beating Chad at a heated bout pf ping-pong, twists some knobs. The Chili's have 25 tracks from which to choose for the LP. There are signature songs like "BloodSugarSexMagik," a pure Peppers slam job with an animal growl to the verse; the scratchy funk of "Give it Away"; the sonaztee "Sir Psycho Sexy" and "Suck My Kiss" (subtitled, Anthony tells me, "Lullaby in C Minor").

Interspersing and anticipated thrash-and-the-funk thangs are more novel numbers. These fellows have embraced modern musical ecleticism with a vengeance they allegedly reserve for Southern co-eds. "I Could Have Lied" must have hit them like gravity hit newton: It's---are you sitting down?---a power ballad, all pat prettiness and hard-over delicate guitar textures. Swoon, Swoon! Tne Moodier "Under the Bridge" is all about angst, a lonely L.A. love and loss song. Darn, and I left out my hankie in my other bra!

Coverwise, the Peppers perfect the Stooges' "Search & Destroy"; it's a blistering (though, unfortunately, left off the album) They laid down a couple of Hendrix tunes, too---look for them to pop up somewhere else, but also not on this disc. The oddest offering is the rip-roaring, foot-stomping version of Robert Johnson's "They're Red Hot," which was recorded outside on the ground of the Big House... until an irate neighbor came tearing down from an adjacent yard, spewing all manner of awful threats.

As we sit there, listening, my editors and I, something happens. Something magical. And a little bit scary. The short hairs---stand up. No, it's not the ghosts of Big House. It's what takes place when the Red Hot Chili Peppers assemble to revel in their glory. There's a snap in the air like the first rumble of a thunderstorm or a fart-lighting contest. Electric. Tribal. Mindless. Indefinable but undeniable. It's there as Chad whacks gleefully at air drums and grows more pungent when Flea goes into an impromptu kick-ass kizatzke. Suppressing a squirm, I eye the exit. As I do, the publicist pokes her head in and apologetically informs Flea that there is no salad. "Anything, something; never met a food I didn't like, tofu to pig butt" he responds. A bowl of bite-sized melon pieces appears instantly. The spell is broken.

The editors, engineers and fruit-bearers leave the room---hurriedly, it seems---and, alone witht the Peppers, I find another suprising facet revealed: They have enormous civic pride. Oh, I know their songs about sprawling pinkopolis they call home and assume it's concern over the area's water shortage that makes them shun rudimentary personal hygiene practices. But when I express interest in migrating Angelward, I'm stuck on the emotion of Anthony's advice. "Don't. There are too may fuckin New Yorkers here. Are you Catholic? Well, if you move here you have to promise you'll use birth control. We don't want you to breed."

This love for Los Angeles, however doesn't extend to every 'hood. "The Valley is the worst fuckin place on the planet," says John with wide-eyed, earnest intensity and plaid shirt to Match. "Nothing but malls. Shopping is God. But I am glad I grew up there because I just locked myself in my room and played guitar". Inspired , Flea pipes up: "Yeah, this guy comes up to me the other day and goes "Dewd! Dew-ewd! Aren't you Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers? Hey, like, y'know, I went to high school with John Frusciante! Yeah, and, like, everyone said he was pret-tee weird but I always knew - I knew he was cool!"

Approving snickers for Flea's convincing Valspeak quickly fade. The Peppers understand the importance of this interview. They know the indignation of a Dolly Parton, and other tabloid targets who want to be appreciated for thier art and not thier antics. Okay. Fine. Let's talk music. So what about their decision to work with Rick Rubin? Anthony explains it had nothing to do with changing record companies and that initally he had reservations "because he's a goat's-head worshipper---he's produced people like Slayer and Danzig. An aside on that: I happen to know that Glen Danzig has to get his parent's permission to drink goat's blood."

But he disgresses. Getting back to the topic at hand, he launches into a spiel about how the affection and respect the Peppers feel for each other feeds their music. Then to demonstrate these fundemental democratic principles, says without segue: "I'm going to let John expound upon the way we recorded the album."

*Silence*

"John! Expound!

"Oh. Um. Er..." John begins to reiterate the love-and-beauty rhetoric. Which is not what Anthony wants. With a somewhat weary sigh, he's forced to take the floor again. Eventually, I get the point. It was recorded live. Like they invented it, as the zealous tone entering Anthony's deadpan impiles. "Well, we used really old equipment," he enthuses. "Our Neve board is from the Fifties.

Not that they couldn't afford state-of-the-art, what with the major buck Warners happily forked over and a Nike "What is Cool?" commercial cameo that couldn't have come cheap. But Anthony is nothing if not modest; he won't give details. "We're wealthy," he says. "Emotionally and financially." Humility, in fact, is another unexpected side to the Chili Peppers. Flea gets all shy when Anthony brings up his thespianism in My Own Private Idaho, hipster director Gus Van Sant's new movie. They're equally reticent when it comes to discussing their sex-symbol status.

Physique-flaunting is a Pepper trademark; at least they could teach Jane Fonda a few new tricks. "Yeah, I've been working on being a little scrawny guy all my life," says Flea, demeanor demure as a seminary-student-cum-centerfold-model. Even Anthony needs coaxing when it comes to the etymology of his nickname, Swan. "It's because my cock is shaped like the neck of a Swan," he finally admits.

I haven't seen such coy evasive tactics since I spoke to Milli Vanilli. Gosh, I'm stymied. Forget about probing Anthony, the formerly pickeled Pepper, on how it feels to be substance-free. The prickly subject of which Peppers are wanted in what states, and the specifics of said funky crimes---I don't think so. Going for an easy one, I ask the band, an institution since 1984, to tell me about their fans. "I happen to know that the entire L.A. Lakers basketball team worships the ground we walk on" says Anthony. "And Public Enemy, Mick Jagger, Barbara Bush......".

John interrupts with a giggle and describes what he'd like to do to the First Lady, an act that would require so many left-out letters (per the dictated style of this magazine) as to be unintelligible.

"But she's got a pearl necklace on," whines Chad.

"I'd like to give her a pearl necklace!" exclaims Flea.

To further throw the attention off themselves, Anthony asks me some questions about myself: "Are you a nasty girl? Do you liked to be spanked? Can you deep throat?". And he's not just interested in me personally, but professionally, too: "Are you a good editor? 'Cause you're not going to be able to use much of this."

By Nina Malkin

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