Vpro interview, 1994.
Transcribed by unknown (please email me so I can credit you!).
It begins with Flea and Ant looking for John, they go through this door and upstairs. At the top of the stairs John has his pants hanging down and he’s showing his private parts to Flea.
It then goes onto little clips of John jamming with the Chilis, on stage, behind the scenes and in his room with his record collection giggling to the camera guy about this experience he had when walking into a record shop when he was in 7th grade and they all thought he was an amazing guy because he could play all these Jimi Hendrix songs (he looked so proud of himself while saying that…very sweet).
John is completely stoned and looks horrifyingly ill and weak in this interview.
John is sitting in his room, obviously high on something. Beginning of the interview he’s distracted by something then laughs and says “I just slipped into another dimension there” and then the interviewer seems confused and says “oh…yeah….of course”
He tells the interviewer he first started writing songs at 9, he says “I was really mad at this guy, it was my last time ever playing sport Baseball and this guy was a real jerk, I sat in the outfield and made up this song about how I thought he should die. So I went home and filled up the tape with 45 minutes worth of songs and ever since I’ve been writing songs…lately I’ve been writing a lot….I write in notebooks, like I go through a notebook every couple of weeks – I just do writings of all kinds, I do movie scripts….just stuff off the top of my head…like mathematics….all sorts of things.”
Interviewer: “Do you remember any of the songs you wrote when you were nine, like the song about that guy……”
John: “umm…yeah, oh that one was called ‘Fuck You: To Jose'”(Spanish pronunciation) Interviewer begins giggling nervously as John looks ahead very seriously. Then the interviewer asks if he remembers how to play that song and John says no and then says “all my songs back then were played like this” and then plays something very out of tune on his guitar and says “I assumed I was playing in tune but I had no way of knowing – I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing”
John then offers to play a song he wrote when he was 14 I think, he murmurs quite a bit but his voice is still utterly beautiful if not a bit out of tune.
Next interview – this one is very upsetting. John looks like he hasn’t eaten in weeks, his eyes are practically bulging out, his teeth are rotting away but the most upsetting thing is what he says.
Interviewer: “Do you mind telling me a little bit about the point when you left the Chili Peppers? Why did you leave the band?”
John: “Umm….because…….there’s a bunch of reasons, for one thing, a year before I quit they knew I wanted to quit and me and Flea once took a drive through the park after the first two months of touring the American tour. I was just miserable and broke the band code of not bringing a girlfriend along on tour because I just couldn’t do it without her and I was happy whenever I was on stage looking at Flea or looking at Chad………but looking around and looking at all the shapes and sounds floating around……..but I wasn’t happy with any……..me and Flea took this drive after that tour and we were sitting there and he said ‘is there anything you like about being in the band?’ and I said no there’s nothing I like about being in the band at all” (John’s voice gets a little croaky here like he’s about to burst into tears) “……and Flea goes nothing?…….and I said nothing except for playing with you, I love you that’s why I’m in the band coz I love playing with you, and he was like hmmm……God that’s no reason to stay in the band if you’re not happy you should you know……but he says that then he forgets it and……you know…….then like for a year I was doing it and then they were surprised when I quit when they knew even back then that I wanted to quit…..you know…..but it’s just that we were so close to each other and it’s just marriage or something…..when someone says they wanna break up you don’t keep it in your mind all the time when you’re with them…….so I enjoyed Flea…but is that enough? Should I even do this anymore?”
John: When I joined the band I couldn’t believe that they wanted to be this other thing than they were….like I thought of them as huge stars but to them they weren’t famous yet and they hadn’t made it yet and they wanted to be as big as Aerosmith or whatever you know and I couldn’t……that was a shock but I just thought…..I was happy as hell so….but I hoped that we would stay at the level we were at in popularity (Begins to get a little teary) ….so the real shock came when I found out that this record that we had been recording, this music that me and Flea just gone nuts over for a few months was actually gonna be in record stores and there will be a bunch of people going out and buying it and putting it on and listening to that music that we made….it had never occurred to me literally, I’m serious…it never entered my head, it was never a thought that went through my head that said people are gonna buy and listen to it, a lot of people all over the world…..like when I first said it I said all over the country then I realized Jesus all over the world and I said it to Flea like five different ways and he was going, yeah!
It helps that I was totally located in the dimension that the music existed….as energy and not the place the music existed as words or as a thing to entertain people.
I was just really in a heavy place when we recorded the albums….like I heard ghosts on the whole record……it was just a fun place to be……like I heard ghosts on the whole record and I’d always say to people when we were playing it for them (whispers) can’t you hear those ghosts! Listen! and Flea goes (sarcastically) ‘John not everybody hears them…..just we hear them’
Interviewer: I remember seeing you in Amsterdam once and you were real live and you were happy….
John: Oh, I wasn’t happy at all man.