Deutschlandfunk radio interview transcript, 2004

Interviewer: There is a form of electronic and experimental music by which John Frusciante is particularly inspired and that is the German Krautrock of the early 70s. As soon as the term Krautrock appears in the interview, John Frusciante can’t stop talking anymore. With shining and sparkling eyes he starts to enthuse about what’s so fascinating in this progressive German rock music.

John Frusciante: To me it really seems like the beginning of an art form, just like the rock of the early 50s which was the beginning of many things that came afterwards, Krautrock also was something trend-setting. It was a complete new form to make music in a band and it was redefined by the Krautrocker in the early 70s which was leading to Punk and New Wave. It almost seems like artists, who go into an experimental direction, people like myself, Radiohead or The Mars Volta, are all huge fans of Krautrock.

<”23 Go In To End” is being played>

Interviewer: John Frusciante with “23 Go In To End”, probably one of the most beautiful reminiscence of the Krautrock, which can be heard on his album “Shadows Collide With People”. This song wakes up memories of the cosmic music of Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, Papule View, Ash Rat Temple and most of all of Edgar Fröse’s album from 1975 “Ypsilon In Malaysian Pale”. John Frusciante knows and loves them all, he admits in the interview. He highly thinks of the guitarist and musician Michael Rother, who set a course in the 70s with bands like Neu!, Hamburg Harmonia and his solo records.

John Frusciante: The approach that someone like Michael Rother took was phenomenal. He put all the influences of the guitar heroes of the 60s aside. He avoided playing like Eric Clapton or Jimi Hendrix. He started from the scratch and played the most simple, only one note, one chord, one little melody and invented new patterns with the guitar through that. When somebody invents something new with this way, like he did, then people will be able to benefit from that a hundred years from now.

Interviewer: In March 2003 John Frusciante was able to meet Michael Rother in Hamburg. Even more: When the Red Hot Chili Peppers played a concert there that evening they took him in on stage for the encore to jam with him. In the meantime, I got to know, John Frusciante and Michael Rother went to the studio to record some songs together. In summer there’ll be shared concerts in California. You can see that John Frusciante is a music lover, an initiate who is interested in a thousand of different styles, genres and categories from Avant-garde to Pop. And concerning his style of making music he’s almost a fanatic. After 14 hours in the studio, he says, he goes home and practices often four hours, listens to music until he falls asleep and dreams the next song. Almost as if he wants to make up for the time he lost when he has been a drug addict, as if his addiction is now the music.

John Frusciante: For me it’s just the reason that I’m here. That’s what the spirits, which let me live through all this I’ve gone through and let me survive, expect from me. They want me to make music and write songs. For me it’s the thing that I’m supposed to be doing here.

Interviewer: Yeah, heard correctly: John Frusciante believes in spirits. As a recurring pattern they also appear in his songs. “How can you imagine those spirits?” I want to know from John Frusciante a bit irritated and amused at the beginning. And when and where does it occur that he sees them?

John Frusciante: A lot of times I’ve seen them when somebody’s asleep and then all of a sudden – they don’t open their eyes – somebody’s in them and talks to me through them. They move their hands or their head but they’re asleep. The soul of the person has left the body and floats around somewhere in the room. Instead the spirit’s in their body now and talks to me. Sometimes they want sweets or cigarettes. When the sleeping persons wakes up, they’re surprised when they see an ashtray full of cigarettes that they’ve smoked when they were asleep. The spirits tell me about their life in their dimension and about what it’s like where they are and they’ve told me things about what my future’s going to be like.

<”Omission” is being played>

John Frusciante: I always had a very strong belief in spirits. Already years before they’ve shown up. It started when I played the guitar one day and I said to myself “Step aside!” and as I did it while I didn’t concentrate on my playing, the most beautiful music came to me. At this point I knew that there’s another power which is responsible for the music and that it wasn’t me who created it. The same happened again and again during a rehearsal or while I recorded things on my four-track machine. For me it was clear that there are different energies, different powers in the universe which were working through the people.

Interviewer: This guy hears voices, sees spirits? John Frusciante describes such strange things like a duck takes to water. The spirits don’t seem to astonish or disturb him, but on the contrary seem to lead and quicken him in his creativity. Just like an Indian who strongly believes in his myths and visions. Not accidentally John Frusciante looks like one. The story of John Frusciante is the story of an extremely talented guitarist and songwriter, who combines in his virtuous style his almost childlike game of experimenting with technical know-how, who helped his band to a masterpiece for millions, co-invented a new musical style, and then couldn’t cope with his early success, who became a victim of the drugs, who went to hell and came back again.

John Frusciante: Once I had the experience of living in a world and then separating myself from it and drifting off, leaving my whole power as a person behind, loosing every spiritual life. I had to go down more and more, allowing no space for living and seeing no whole purpose in my life and then to find myself again and to start over, to begin again from a completely fresh place. Now my songs – they were finished when I wrote them – I’ve completed them.

Interviewer: They are even better than ever, the songs of John Frusciante, his own as well as the songs he has recorded with the Chili Peppers. “Californication” and “By The Way”, the last two records, made the Chili Peppers even more successful, artistically as well as commercially. And they underlined that for the band only John Frusciante can sort of be Keith Richards when singer Anthony Kiedis is Mick Jagger. Also live on stage Frusciante is an experience. Like a pocket knife he folds himself up, jumps back up and explodes almost and at the same time he plays a total intense guitar. Simply stunning. This is also true for the new solo record of John Frusciante. “Shadows Collide With People” is a triumph. Haunting songs, fabulous sounds, many colors and facets and in the middle of it all John Frusciante, better than ever.

John Frusciante: The fact that I feel good and the fact that I’m a happy person is something completely unexplainable to me. I don’t understand how I could end up so happy. But today I’m standing here as a free person. In my head it doesn’t look like in a theater of war. Since five years my head is wonderfully clear, so that I want to use my time to create and record as much music as I can. I’m only writing all those songs to give them to the world because I feel that that’s my purpose.

<”This Cold” is being played>

Someone else: This was Rock et cetera about the American guitarist John Frusciante by Andreas Ewald.

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