What Happened When John Frusciante Learned to Play Just One Note
Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante recalled the moment he abandoned pretenses within his style of playing and learned to play a single note.
In a recent interview, the rocker told Guitar World that he’d spent his early years overplaying in an attempt to deliver what he thought was expected of him. When he finally got over that approach around 1989, things started to fall into place for him.
“I just decided, ‘If I keep going the way that I’m going, I’m never going to be happy with anything that I do, so I have to give up my ideas of what good is and I just have to try to be myself and figure out what that is,’” Frusciante said, adding that he had to “stop trying to be what I think people want me to be, or what I think the Chilis are supposed to be,” and instead ask himself: “Who am I?”
He focused on trying to simplify his approach. “I realized that by going into rehearsal, and instead of playing, just do feedback, or hold one note for a long time… this made Flea sound awesome!" Frusciante explained. "I saw how it affected the chemistry in the band as well; it made everybody else sound better, because I was giving them this canvas that they could paint on, as opposed to trying to step in front of other people to do my painting. I was like, ‘I’m gonna let them do the painting and I’m just gonna give them an atmosphere to do that in,’ and I saw that it had a really good effect on everybody.”
For Frusciante personally, the result was stark. "A thing that I can’t explain from my soul started to come out of my playing,” he said, “and people started liking my playing a lot more at that point; I started to mean something to people. It was one of those weird conundrums, because I had given up caring at that point: I figured, ‘I’m just gonna be myself, come what may; I’m going to stop trying to be impressive.’ And that was actually what caused people to start to really be into what I was doing.”
Red Hot Chili Peppers launch a North American tour on July 23.