An extensive interview with John on making After Below for Groove magazine

In the Making Of section of the May issue of the German Groove magazine (#154), John elaborates on how he created After Below, the opening track on Trickfinger. The authors have been so kind to put the original, English version online and you can read it by clicking here. A sneak preview is below, with some commentary to those who might not remember everything straight away.

Starting a recording with a pre-written song is an antiquated method of making a musical recording. Making music with no pre-written map is the new frontier technology has made possible, and I began my journey on this road with the Trickfinger LP. I have made records since that time with pre-written songs, but I nevertheless employed the work methods of modern electronic music, and found my way as I went along. That’s the kind of person I am. I don’t mind being lost, and I don’t mind having no degree of certainty where I am headed. I love exploration and investigation, and Trickfinger was when I began making music exclusively for these purposes. I would always begin with a simple element which required no ‘brilliant idea’, and move from machine to machine, until the track was ready to be performed and recorded.


To the best of my recollection, ‘After Below’ was programmed and recorded in one day. The instruments I used were: one stock 303, a 606, an 808, a 101, a 202, an ARP 2500 and an EMT 250 reverb. It was recorded through a 16 channel Mackie mixer, onto a Tascam CD RW-2000. There are other songs which took me as long as two weeks to make, such as ‘Sain’, where the Roland R8 drum part alone took me well over a week to program, but ‘After Below’ was me making it super easy on myself. I programmed a straight kick on a 606 drum machine, made the one bar 303 part which repeats throughout the whole track, made the main melody on some sequencer or other (probably a 202) playing the ARP 2500 heavily treated by the EMT, made a secondary melody on a 202, and made an 808 snare part which is kind of soloing over the whole thing. I also triggered a 101, set to a noise setting, with one of the 606s trig outs, and manipulated this sound throughout the recording. Sometimes it sounds like part of the kick drum, and at other times I opened up the filter so you just hear pure noise. There are no hi hats or cymbals of any kind in the track, but the noise does sometimes feel a little like a crash cymbal.


I rejoined my old band, and gradually started buying synths, samplers and drum machines. I soon discovered different kinds of house music, techno, jungle, and labels like Rephlex, Warp, React and XL. I also discovered electronic noise music and labels like Staubgold, Mille Plateaux and Mego.

Did you know that John was already featured on a Staubgold release? It was when a collaboration with Ekkehard Ehlers, titled Grissaise 1, found its place on a 2004 compilation Tempo Technik Teamwork

The magazine, containing the German version of the interview, can be purchased online. They deliver to all countries in the world, including North Korea and French portion of the Antarctica, other than two: Serbia and Montenegro, so we will have to rely on a little help from our friends to bring you scans of the physical version, or move to the South Pole in order to ensure proper delivery.

* Many thanks to Jon Speedy for the heads-up.

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  • leika

    Fascinating read. The technical details bring much insight into this album. As an electronic music enthusiast myself I can greatly appreciate these methods and jargon. Yet at the same time, this interview makes me sad. I recall when I would read a new John interview from 2006/7/8 I would be really happy, uplifted in fact. There was so much insight I perceived in those times in his words. The last couple years the interviews leave me feeling cold. I can't help but feel that more than just his music has changed.. or maybe it's just me who has grown older. Who can say?

    • Connor

      Cold is the perfect word to decribe how I feel during and after reading his more recent interviews. They don't seem all that interesting or inspired.I hung onto every word in his '00's interviews; these I find myself skimming around, perhaps not even finishing.

      I can't speak for you, but for me I believe it's the interviews or the content, not my age. I can go back and read an earlier one and still feel the life in the words.

    • Connor

      Yea that's the main thing I took away from this also. That statement really caught me off gaurd.

      • stefan

        I am not very familiar with these kind of short forms as english obviously isn't my mothertongue. So what does PCP mean? I did not pay much attention to it when I read the interview as I did not think of it as important. But I am a bit curious now you guys point that out.

    • @voltagenewmedia

      x2 caught me off guard.

      Also it was the first I heard of ‘Speed Dealer Moms’.

      Another thing that caught me off guard was the negativity to modern rock. We all know lots of modern rock is crap, and the good old days of rock have passed us. But there are still some good new bands out there, with skill…sure the sound is different. It makes me sad when someone like John seems to have given up on it. Lots of musicians from the 80s/90s send the message "long live rock" which is nice to hear, so his comments caught me off guard.

      • Iva

        I put together the world's only Speed Dealer Moms page and they were supposed to perform once in 2009, but they didn't, so…you are somewhat late to the party. Have a read, they're interesting and March 3_03 is one of the craziest things ever. In a good way. 🙂

        Hope it helps.

  • Tolik Sirotinsky

    After reading this, It seems as though he is just speaking his mind. Not hiding anything from the reader. He is just speaking the things that are on his mind. He doesn't care about todays' rock music. Essentially he is right. Popular rock music is just business. Electronic music is where you actually hear stuff that people make for the love of music. The process is also much more art-like. Similar to creating a painting. When painting you start from a blank canvas and you fill it with color and your ideas and emotions. The way Frusciante is describing his music creation process is very similar to this. You record ideas onto a blank canvas and allow it to grow with time, etc. You alone control the destiny of that single recording just like you would with that painting.
    I myself, agree with most of what he said. Even though I'm currently playing in a rock band. Recording pre-created songs is a drag, its much more fulfilling when you can do it from a blank space and just allow it to come to fruition.

  • coldcode

    "We’ve made something like 60 hours of recorded music together up to the present time"

    This makes me happy.

    "Starting a recording with a pre-written song is an antiquated method of making a musical recording."


    "At one point I had so many machines around me that my cats could not make their way to me and I had to start leaving a space so they could walk over to me for love."

    It was made in 2007 so now it makes more sense since PBX and Enclosure sound much more "advanced". Awesome read… let the man be and create, I don't care if he uses rock or sand or acid or whatever. It's the person, not the tools that that really make music. And even a person is just a tool…

  • Iva

    I have tried to import from Intense Debate to Disqus, but it apparently did not work and will have to be done again. The comments have not been lost, don’t worry. There are just so many of them that the process stops when it’s not supposed to. At the same time, Intense Debate is somewhat obsolete and the move is necessary.

  • Frazer Hughes

    Yeah…does that mean PCP…as in PCP, or is it a referance to something else i just dont know…In any case, no judgements Ive used every drug know to man, it just PCP is pretty random 🙂 I didnt know it was still around. I guess i havent really look for it though.

    BUT pbx outside enclosure ltrlfr are my favorite albums of johns, for me they took a little while to wrap my head around, i just focused on his low-to-high guitar jumping then gradually i sort of devloped the ear to hear the wild ass musical exploration and be able to enjoy it, not just be baffled but kind of intrigued. So if PCP helped make that happen in any way, then im glad it happened:) and if it didnt have anything to do with the recent albums i think he should be very ashamed and appologize to all the children on the internet

    who are now skinheads addicted to pcp and running wild killing white people.

  • no

    Rock music is dying. You can only rearrange the same power chords so many times. That’s why all the good rock music stopped existing before this decade. It’s over. You just unfortunately got too accustomed to hearing people innovate with a guitar, bass, and drums.

  • Ryan Sloan

    totally 100% agree.
    I’ll soak up anything the man gives the world and LOVE it all!
    it’s all coming from the RIGHT place .. the heart. that’s so rare. maybe he had to lose it all to understand that … so too maybe the nay-sayers should be so lucky ; )

  • Ryan Sloan

    totally 100% agree.
    I’ll soak up anything the man gives the world and LOVE it all!
    it’s all coming from the RIGHT place .. the heart. that’s so rare. maybe he had to lose it all to understand that … so too maybe the nay-sayers should be so lucky ; )

  • Ryan Sloan

    not surprising.
    David Bowie went thru a PCP phase while working (or not really working) with Iggy in Hollywood way back when. DB got so paranoid, he kept all of his urine in the frig .. so the CIA couldn’t access it.
    I can’t say from experience, but PCP, Sherm, whtvr has been one of those misunderstood chemicals that ppl associate with violence, but that’s usually because it’s found in ghettoized areas. PCP users have called LSD users “crazy” – a statement that seems flipped to me.
    by and large it’s not anything addictive in the physical sense. and he used the qualifying term “distraction”, as if to say it really didn’t do for him what he thought it might.

  • John

    Yeah I read the distraction comment the same way. I’ve used many types of drugs but never PCP I think I have the adverse reaction be cuz it’s foreign to me. Ironically the city I am from was the main PCP producers when it became a street drug. What’s weird is that I haven’t done drugs in two years but I still think it would be interesting to try PCP.

  • Ryan Sloan

    I feel the same way … I haven’t done drugs in many years (not keeping track was what kept me from going back) and recently I’ve had the opportunity to use psylocibin and LSD25, which might be a good time for one last psycadelic/introspective trip, but it’s gotta be done right in the right setting. I’d probably be more down with Ioxasca, honestly.

  • Ryan Sloan

    I tried to reply to your comment a few times, but for one reason or another, I couldn’t get the the thing to send — but that’s good (assuming this time it will work).
    strange that my og comment sites D Bowie as comparative. maybe not so strange —
    just wanted to say I felt so he same way about phencyclidine- and I’ve had about 7 yrs in (+/- 2 years depending on ones definitions for) “sobriety” – quoted because I believe there are no “sober” humans. it’s an idealized state that is pre cursed by judgement and intolerance- hypocritical at best in all situations, but moreover .. I have tried to use cannabis again as there was a time when I used it daily and definitely had severe misplaced anxiety without it, but it’s been so long since I’ve had it (pre-legal medicinal in CA) that the times I’ve tried to use it for pain management, I’ve ended up in complete couch-lock.mbut that’s what I have to do in order to manage the neuropathic and symptomatic pain I deal with 24/7.
    maybe I’m thinking it would be like a LSD25 or psilocybin experience that would help my physical pain and my psychological stress, but if you read the wiki on it … it’s enough to tell me it’s probably closer to a schizophrenic trip that can last too long (wiki does a good job in dispelling myths associated with it).
    I dunno – I think ‘yage would be better for myself, and since it is in a grey area regarding legality, and since I’m very close to two places I am finding are hubs for its use (Santa Cruz & San Francisco), that might be a better place/experience … or rather a more conducive environment for what’s going on with my physical and mental health (tho they are not seperate).

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