Virtuoso guitarist John Frusciante left Red Hot Chili Peppers for the second time in 2009. He explained that he wasn’t in the right place mentally, as he put it, he was an “imbalanced mess”.
Thankfully, in 2019, Frusciante returned to the group after a ten-year break. In a recent interview with Classic Rock, Frusciante was joined by Red Hot Chili Peppers bandmates Flea and Anthony Kiedis who revealed that the 2009 split had been something they all felt needed to happen at the time.
“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’”.
Frusciante’s return meant that Josh Klinghoffer, who had replaced Frusciante, had to leave. Flea said that conversation was also an emotional rollercoaster. “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.”
Red Hot Chili Peppers are set to release their brand new album Unlimited Love on April 1st. This 12th studio album for the group will mark Frusciante’s first with the group since 2006’s Stadium Arcadium.
Listen to the first single from the forthcoming album, ‘Black Summer’, below.