John Frusciante opens up on his struggle to be accepted when he first joined RHCP

“I had the impression that a lot of their audience wasn't into me”

Now considered the most integral guitarist to feature in the band’s extensive list of members, Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante details his initial difficulty to fit in with the other members.

Following the release of their highly awaited twelfth studio album, Unlimited Love, earlier this month, the California-based, funk-rock band burst back onto the scene with the return of their most notorious guitarist, John Frusciante.

Their first new release with the member in over a decade, the album strives to recapture the initial funk-dominated sound that the band first rose to fame with. Yet, reflecting back on his time first joining the lineup in 1988, following the death of original guitarist Hillel Slovak, the musician confessed he had a hard time being accepted into the band.

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“I just wanted to keep playing in the style they had created with Jack and Hillel,” he told Guitar World. “I thought I would play like Hillel, but flashier. After about nine months I realized the flashiness wasn’t impressing anyone, and there wasn’t really a place for it in the band chemistry, so for a while after that, I just relied on my energy.”

Red Hot Chili Peppers 2022
Image: Anna Webber/Getty Images

Joining his self-proclaimed “favourite band in the world” when he was just 18, Frusciante further told Guitar World that he felt forced to hold back by his initial audiences – something that ultimately led to his signature sound.

“Those first nine months, I had the impression that a lot of their audience wasn’t into me,” he claims. “We were feeling like the audience wasn’t as enthused as they had been before I joined […so] I stopped caring about how I might come across. I became content to back up the other guys in the band and, unexpectedly, that made me stand out more, rather than less.”

The guitarist credits this struggle as responsible for creating the tight-knit relationship he still maintains with the members. Reciting a time prior to the band’s global recognition, Frusciante states how it was their’ initial shortcomings that allowed them to so easily write music together – even three decades on.

“We have a special relationship because we went from being a club band to an arena band together. We had some bummer shows. Not all the time, but we had shows where nobody showed up,” he describes. “That’s a connection we share that nobody else can share with us, because it’s only the four of us that had that experience.”

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Red Hot Chili Peppers’ latest album Unlimited Love is available now via Warner Records.

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