Why John Frusciante Almost Didn’t Rejoin Red Hot Chili Peppers
John Frusciante said he’d worried that he couldn’t write rock music any more, which left him in doubt about rejoining the Red Hot Chili Peppers for a third stint.
His return to the band was confirmed in 2019, and they released "Black Summer", their first track to feature him since 2006, earlier this week. It’s taken from new album Unlimited Love, which arrives on April 1. In a new interview with NME, Frusciante explained that conversations had taken place with singer Anthony Kiedis and bassist Flea before he made his decision. "Flea had put the idea in my head," he said, "and I was sitting there with the guitar thinking that I hadn’t written any rock music in so long. Could I still do that?"
For the band, however, it had been easy to consider inviting him to return. "It was going slowly and without a real definitive drive to it. It was just sort of meandering," Kiedis said of the album. "And then both Flea and I had a zeitgeist of a feeling inside of ourselves independently which was: ‘It would be really nice to involve John somehow in this process.’ It had been a long time and he was making himself known in our circles again after having been in his very own circle."
Flea admitted that it had been a "big shift" to dismiss Josh Klinghoffer, who’d been part of the lineup for a decade – although it was achieved amicably. "[I]t was an emotionally difficult thing to do," the bassist recalled. "Not only was he a great musician, he was also a thoughtful, supportive team-player – a communally-minded, kind and intelligent person. But artistically, in terms of being able to speak the same language, it was easier working with John. Getting back into a room and starting to play and letting the thing unfold… was really exciting."
Kiedis noted that the dynamic in the studio was "very healthy, productive and creative," adding: "Sometimes [we] can be a little too competitive and it can lead to discord, but we really pushed each other in a positive way."