Frusciante, The Thin Red Line

Marginal character, the RHCP’s guitarist is leading a solo career.

A guitar hero in 2004! Wy being a fan of this disappearing species – even if its representative is among the giants? Firstly, because this fellow is developing his own projects which isn’t typical. Secondly, because it’s the only big rocker known to us who mentions Leonardo Da Vinci as his master.

At first glance, John Frusciante looks like a laid-back bloke. Long-sleeved shapeless T-shirt, shock of hair and limping pose are in a contradiction with a well-thought speech. At the beginning, the young Californian dreamed to be a musician. As far as he can remember, it’s the only path he ever followed. “When I arrived in Santa Monica, I saw groups that deeply influenced me, such as Led Zeppelin, Kiss or Aerosmith. Later, my parents gave me an acoustic guitar, but it wasn’t for me. With punk, I really found my way.”

The ascension was fast, but also brutal. A gifted musician, John Frusciante joined the RHCP when he was 18, having replaced Hillel Slovak, who died from an overdose at the age of 26. The role of the guitar player almost becomes a curse among the Red Hots, because Frusciante almost ended the same way as the one whom he replaced. Cocaine, heroin and other forbidden things ruined his health and a part of his ambitions.

Dave Navarro stood in for John until his rehabilitation took place. John Frusciante turned out to be the key element in the success of RHCP’s last two albums, Californication and By The Way.

Music freak, the boy actually never stopped, he was recording stranger and stranger solo albums as time went by. The latest one to date, Shadows Collide With People, is the successor of To Record Only Water For Ten Days; and it shows a salutary creative vitality. “A couple of years ago, these solo albums had the purpose to prove myself that I was still able, as a person and as an artist, to take challenges as they come and to complete them. If you compare my new CD to the previous ones, it’s much more positive – even if this notion is centered on the future, while my main inspiration is the past, the childhood.

Neat rock exercise, with nice psychedelic elements and electronic transitions…Shadows Collide With People shows the open-mindess that characterises this lucid and illuminated musician. “The problem with success is that it creates an addiction which can harm inspiration. And since I have the chance to record under my name, I’m recording songs that aren’t responding to any commercial demand…”
Conscious of his dominant position in a super-profitable band, the guitarist doesn’t procrastinate when he’s given the keys of a studio. Tempted by more “abstract” aspects of music, he claims that he’s deriving writing from “cut up, dadaism and surrealism” and, combining the speech to the gesture (he also sings), he fulfills his desire of being in artistic environments and learn about painting.

His mentor? Leonardo da Vinci! “He was asking his students to draw all types of noses and to apprehend the smallest details possible. His approach was incredibly meticulous and, like this, I am a relentless worker who wants to reproduce some textures and atmospheres, through the greatest amount of technical control possible. Like Da Vinci, I like working on the perspective, the relation between shadow and light…” As far as taking his guitar for a paint brush? “In the past, when I was playing, visual elements were coming to my mind and I was trying to find a corresponding musical element for each of them. Now, on the contrary, I’m emptying my head and I feed myself with the group and crowd’s energy.”

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