Feeding Back - Conversation with Alternative Guitarists, by David Todd
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Feeding Back – new book on alt. guitarists. Fresh JF interview!

Feeding Back - Conversation with Alternative Guitarists, by David Todd
Feeding Back - Conversation with Alternative Guitarists, by David Todd
A book with a lengthy title, Feeding Back: Conversations with Alternative Guitarists from Proto-Punk to Post-Rock, by David Todd, is out on the 1st of June and it contains twenty-five interviews with guitarists who were not afraid to push the limits, be daring, break the rules and set new ones, innovate, invent.

Naturally, John is among these people and his chapter was titled The Radiant Guitarist. Here is an excerpt of his interview, which was done approx. in the second half of 2009; thus making it the most recent interview done with John.

DT: My other random question is about Niandra Lades. I’ve heard that you’ve somewhat disavowed that album—is that true?

JF: No, I think that’s a brilliant album. I never would’ve said anything like that. I did let my second album go out of print. And it’s not because I don’t like it, it was just that it freaked people out so much, and at the time I had a vision of myself making more records, so I wanted to start fresh. I didn’t want people to be scared of me. [laughs] Now, it doesn’t make any difference to me what people think, but I still wouldn’t release something just to release it, you know? I’d only release something if I was ready to let go of it. Those first couple of solo records, they were such a natural thing, and they were so meaningful to me and my friends when I made them. I did them with the mind-set, “I’m not going to release this music,” and it was just shocking in both cases how much my feeling about them changed as a result of letting them into other people’s consciousnesses. Gradually, after twenty years of making music in the public, I’ve settled into a healthy relationship with things so I know how to not let people step on what I’ve done. Like with my last record, I released it a while after it was done, because I was enjoying sitting around with my friends listening to it. I didn’t want to let go of that, and then when it seemed like that had run its course, it was time to let other people have it.

But you know, it happens to a lot of people; like Captain Beefheart, he went into some crazy direction for a while where he made these really lame, straight, commercial records, and I remember the quote was that he was tired of scaring people, you know? And it’s unfortunate, but that’s part of being a human being. I don’t think that artists should be led by public opinion; I feel like it should be our duty to express what there is to express. But it’s something I wrestle with, because the difference between making music for yourself and making music for the purpose of releasing it is that an audience adds this level of intensity, this live-or-die feeling that you wouldn’t have if you were sitting around in your bedroom. But I think that in general, if you think of music as a living entity, the things that should be motivating it and making it grow—if what we want is for music as an art form to grow—should always be internal enough to deal with your own relationship to the creative force of the universe, and it shouldn’t have anything to do with what people are going to think of it.

And here’s an anecdote from the author himself, exclusively readers of I-M.net

For this book, I wanted to do an interview with John Frusciante as an inventive, encyclopedically knowledgeable and versatile guitar thinker—the guy who struggles with the creative capacities of the instrument and the rock form—and not necessarily as the renowned guitarist from the RHCP. I love John’s work with the Chili Peppers, but this interview is largely about his solo albums and point of view as an artist. (The Q & A deals a lot with his first record, which I still think is amazing.) The book is about an underground guitar lineage that counters the mainstream tradition of heroes, and what made John F. unique is that he could hypothetically fall into either camp. The way he goes back and forth between possibilities and roles is another reason he fits into the scheme of things—the book is about searchers, musically and/or otherwise.

I don’t want to be heavy-handed about the idea of an informal (invisible?) movement of guitarists, only to enjoy the conversation that takes place among people like John and Michael Rother or Keith Levene. These connections are intended to be more illuminating than limiting. John mentioned that he’d thought of writing something similar to this book himself, such as his own list of guitar anti-heroes. (For John’s fans, I encouraged him to do this, to no avail.) Comments like that made me feel I wasn’t on the wrong track with him.

In the book, I use the term “resistant virtuosos” for people like John and Tom Verlaine of Television. (Not coincidentally, TV is a player John name-checks directly.) These guys had all the skill and technique of the guitar gods but their minds were pulling them into more subtle and avant-garde directions. There are other ways the guitarists in the book can be seen, but in this sense John and Tom Verlaine are among the very best of them.

The interview took place about six months after the release of The Empyrean, when the book was still in the early stages of development. One thing I definitely picked up on was that John was wary of being commercialized, which is something I never wanted to do anyway, of course. I approached the interviewees as receptacles of alternative knowledge. My goal was to capture the creative and life lessons they’d picked up along the way, what it felt like for them to test the boundaries of a genre and to succeed/fail on the basis of their innovations. This is another reason John was such a great interviewee for my purposes, because as his fans know he is constantly learning, working, and questioning.

Thanks for checking this out. I hope you like John’s interview and the rest of the book.

I-M.net would like to publicly thank David Todd for the above anecdote.

If you’re interested in who else is interviewed in the book, check out the entire list. There’s people like Tom Verlaine of Television fame, the great Johnny Marr and some musicians verging on other forms of expressions, such as Lydia Lunch. John’s friend and inspiration Michael Rother was also interviewed.

You can pre-order the book on IPG, Barnes and Noble or Amazon. Also, you can show your support by following it on Twitter and Facebook.

If you’re residing in United States or Canada, apply to win a copy of this book by responding to this topic, using a valid e-mail address and stating where in USA or Canada you’re from, to make sure you read the requirements right. The winner will be determined using a random number generator and announced on 01st of June 2012, the day it’s out. Good luck, everyone!

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