GW: That's gonna surprise people.
Frusciante: Yes, I know. But I'd just be disappointed if I looked for a Led Zeppelin in today's world, or a Brian Jones-era Rolling Stones. You gotta look at other forms of music; you gotta open yourself up. R&B was the one kind of music that I thought I just hated. But once I heard tracks that people like Timbaland or Brandy were doing with backing vocals - with everything overlapping and all these subgroups playing all these mind trips on you - I realized that those kinds of things are why I love music. That's what makes me spend every day devoted to constantly trying to understand more about music.
GW: You've got a very broad scope as a listener. Very "big ears" as people say.
Frusciante: Since I've started meditating, I've noticed that, more than anything else I've ever done, it has really increased the sharpness of how music sounds to me. I hear things so much more clearly. Meditation ahs been a really positive thing for my understanding of music, because it helps the brain focus on one thing at a time.
GW: What kind of meditation are you doing?
Frusciante: Vipassana. It stops your mind from interrupting all the time and getting in the way. It gives you the opportunity to still your mind, so they you can really focus it. I got to the point where I was memorizing 10 minute Jimi Hendrix solos really quickly - in a day, or a couple of days - whereas before, something like that would have taken me a month. I know I spent a whole month learning Jimmy Page's guitar in "I Can't Quit You Baby," from Coda. And now something along those same lines, like Jimi Hendrix plaing "Machine Gun" at the Isle of Wight, took me a couple of days. Meditation has made a huge difference in the effectiveness of my practicing. It's something I can really recommend to guitar players. It's also created an open space inside me; there's this light that shines through this music that wasn't there before. When I listen to By the Way, although I wrote those songs, I hear a kind of darkness there. As light and bright as the music is, it's a got this darkness with it. And when I hear our new music, it sounds like nothing's being held back. It sounds like it's just letting everything out that wants to come out. And I attribute that largely to meditation.
GW: I remember discussing this with you in the past. Your attitude then was, "Aw, I don't need to meditate."
Frusciante: I was really in the dark. I'm just barely climbing out the dark now. But when I look at that period of time, I always wanted to seem perfect. I did not want to look at my flaws. I didn't want to take a chance, put myself out, or admit to myself or to the world that I had problems. I just wanted to create the impression that I was fine: I'm perfect. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have so many problems to clear out of my head. Luckily, I got through a few key ones before we started making this album so they wouldn't get in my way. But the more you deny to yourself that you've got problems, the less chance you have of being able to be really free with your expression and your music. To me, the most important thing is extreme discipline - to never let go of discipline. And when you let go, it's gotta be for just a day or something, and then you go right back to discipline.
GW: That can be dangerous.
Frusciante: It is dangerous. But you know, if you're living in the city, sometimes you gotta just feed the part of yourself that's hungry, or you gotta calm the part of yourself that's tense.