John Frusciante said he was an “imbalanced mess” when he decided to quit the Red Hot Chili Peppers for the second time in 2009.

He returned to the band 10 years later, but in a recent interview with Classic Rock, he and bandmates Anthony Kiedis and Flea revealed that the split was something they all felt had to happen.

“I became quite off-balance mentally those last couple of years we toured,” Frusciante said. “As the tour went on, I got deep into the occult, which became a way of escaping the mindset of tour life. The occult tends to magnify whatever you are, and I was an imbalanced mess.” Kiedis recalled that “John was very absolute about not wanting to do this anymore. ... So when he told Flea and I, there wasn't even that moment where we were, like, ‘Come on, we can work it out.’ We were, like, ‘We understand, it's obvious it's not where you want to be.’ I would say ‘relief’ was probably the most descriptive word for everybody, including John.”

Flea recalled how a tearful discussion over dinner initiated Frusciante’s 2019 return. “We were just shooting the shit, talking, eating,” he said. “We’d never really talked about [the 2009 split] much. At one point my wife and his girlfriend were in the other room and we were sitting alone, and I said, ‘John, sometimes I miss playing with you so much.’ And I started crying when I said it. And he looked at me, and I saw the tears in his eyes. And he said, ‘I miss it, too.’ There was just this moment, but in that moment I remember thinking: ‘Man, you know … .’”

The move meant that Josh Klinghoffer, who had replaced Frusciante, had to go. Flea said that conversation was equally emotional. “I crashed my car into the garage, I was so freaked out about it,” he recalled of arriving at his home for the band meeting. “You go into the garage and the door’s coming down and your mind’s so gone you just go into the door. It was really hard.”

It was even more difficult because of his friendship with Klinghoffer, he added. “I could go to him when I was hurting and crying on the road when I was in my own miserable neuroses and depression," Flea explained. "But we had a language with John that we developed when we were all much younger. We can do things without really speaking about it; we have this connection. That was harder with Josh, and for Josh, too.”

The Chili Peppers will release Unlimited Love, their first album with Frusciante since 2006’s Stadium Arcadium, on April 1.

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