A Beautiful Breakaway

Rock Mag: Paradoxically, you haven’t made your solo album alone…
JF: It’s true that Josh Klinghoffer helped me a lot. I met him 5 or 6 years ago. He was 17 and was opening for the Chili Peppers on some dates with his band. We immediately got on well. We listened to some CDs, we spoke a lot about music, and it was great: he saw everything exactly like me. With the Chili Peppers, you come up with an idea or a riff, but once the others have added their stuff, with all the talent that we know they have, the song doesn’t look like what you thought it would be at the beginning! With Josh, we are on the same artistic wavelength. So it’s very pleasant to go to the end of a song with him, because you know that he shoots in the same way as you and that in the end, the song will be exactly like you imagined it.

There’s Chad Smith and Flea on the album, nevertheless…
Of course! They were there, available. I wasn’t going to go without such a rhythm section! On the contrary, they haven’t, strictly speaking, created something. They played what we asked of them, without exaggerating…

Your previous albums were parenthesis compared with the Chili Peppers’ repertory. It’s not really the case of this one…
That’s right that at the beginning, making solo records were a way to assert myself outside the collective of the Red Hot Chili Peppers which is sometimes oppressive. The Chili Peppers, it’s very verse/chorus/verse/chorus… So, me, I do experimental stuff, the thing the most distant as possible from this very traditional structure. Today, I realize that making a simple song is very hard to do, in fact. So I like to develop this kind of thing, which makes my albums less insane than before, more popular, thus complimenting the ones with the Chili Peppers.

Maybe it’s also because your influence has grown among the Chili Peppers and in consequence, their recent repertory is more in agreement with yours?
Yeah… I like the idea! A rational explication, it’s also that I recorded most of the songs of this record at the same time that we recorded By the Way. So my state of mind is almost the same on the two albums, whence some similitude. However me too, I evolved since Blood Sugar Sex Magic. Like Flea or Anthony. Today, our tastes are much more similar than in the past.

Shadows Collide With People is quite a dark album…
I made new resolutions some years ago, my life had changed. I refused for a long time to be part of this world. My social life was at a dead end, I was alone and proud of it. This album is a rebirth, but I’m still the same deep inside myself. Now I feel more confident than in the past, fortunately. At the college, I found myself so interesting that I often introduced myself to others with a false name!

The director Vincent Gallo has made the photos for your album. You, you make six songs on the original soundtrack of his next movie, Brown Bunny. How did you meet him?
We were introduced five years ago by a common friend. I had just seen his movie Buffalo 66, and I had adored it because the soundtrack was riddled with progressive rock songs like Yes and King Crimson. He said to me that he had adored my first solo album and that he searched songs a bit insane like them for his next movie. I made some songs whereas the movie wasn’t shot yet. But actually, they won’t be in the movie, just on the CD of the original soundtrack.

Are you interested in being an actor?
Vincent Gallo made the video-clip of Going Inside on my previous album. He affirmed that I was the greatest actor that he never saw! The problem is that I never knew if he was really serious! (He laughs) Actually, I never really asked myself this question, and nobody ever proposed anything to me! But why not…

Maybe you don’t have enough time. Do you do something else other than music in your life?
I adore art. Here, in Paris, I would like to visit Beaubourg, but each time I come, it’s closed! My jacket was made by René Ricard. He formed a part of the Factory, with Andy Warhol and Basquiat. It was a really great artistic movement. My girlfriend had found this old photo of a snowy landscape in the garage. I liked it. It reminded me of a space notion. Once the title of the album was found, we asked René Ricard to paint the words over the landscape.

You will be with the Chili Peppers on stage in Paris in June. Can you tell us how it’s going to be?
Frankly, no… Not because I don’t want to, but because we rehearse just one week before the shows, so I have no idea! But no worries, it will go well!

When did you begin playing the guitar?
Really at twelve. I annoyed my father for many weeks to have an electric guitar. It was a Fender Stratocaster. At the beginning, he wanted to buy a less expensive guitar, but I haven’t given up! I was listening to Jimi Hendrix all day, and it was out of the question that I hadn’t the same guitar as him!

Is there a guitar of which you are particularly attached to?
Without a doubt, a Gretsch from 1957 that Vincent Gallo offered me a few months ago. He had sold it to a guy, and then bought it from him again to offer it to me! That’s typical Gallo! I used it on the Californication video and often on stage.

Are you difficult when it comes to choosing your guitars?
I’m a bit of a snob. I only play on guitars from the fifties or the sixties. If it’s newer, it doesn’t interest me! But the best guitar to me, in relation to my playing, the look, the sound, the comfort, it’s the Fender Telecaster from 1966. The best!

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