John Frusciante was “deep into the occult” when he left Red Hot Chili Peppers

The guitarist left the band in 2009 before rejoining over a decade later for their new album 'Unlimited Love'

John Frusciante has spoken about the circumstances around his 2009 departure from Red Hot Chili Peppers, revealing that he was “deep into the occult” at the time.

The guitarist has been in and out of the band since the late ’80s and last appeared on 2006’s ‘Stadium Arcadium’. Former tour understudy Josh Klinghoffer replaced Frusciante in 2009, appearing on 2011’s ‘I’m With You’ and 2016’s ‘The Getaway’.

Frusciante has been writing and recording with the band for their new album ‘Unlimited Love’, and he’s now spoken to Classic Rock about why he left the band over a decade ago.


“I became quite off-balance mentally those last couple of years we toured,” he said. “As the tour went on, I got deep into the occult, which became a way of escaping the mindset of tour life.”

He added: “The occult tends to magnify whatever you are, and I was an imbalanced mess.”

NME Cover 2022 Red Hot Chili Peppers
Red Hot Chili Peppers, shot by Gus Van Sant for NME, 2022.

Speaking to NME in an exclusive interview photographed by Oscar-winning director Gus Van Sant earlier this year, the band spoke about their new album (due out April 1 via Warner) and how reuniting with Frusciante “pushed each other in a positive way”.

“The biggest event, honestly, was John returning to the band. That was the most monumental change in our lives. And God was I down for anything and everything,” Anthony Kiedis told NME.

“It was going slowly and without a real definitive drive to it. It was just sort of meandering,” Kiedis said of the process of beginning to write ‘Unlimited Love’. “And then both Flea and I had a zeitgeist of a feeling inside of ourselves independently which was: ‘It would be really nice to involve John somehow in this process.’ It had been a long time and he was making himself known in our circles again after having been in his very own circle.”


On rejoining the band, Frusciante told NME: “Flea had put the idea [of rejoining] in my head and I was sitting there with the guitar thinking that I hadn’t written any rock music in so long. Could I still do that?”

With Frusciante now in the band again, Klinghoffer was let go, which Flea described in the interview as “a big shift for us”. “He’s been with us for 10 years, and it was an emotionally difficult thing to do. Not only was he a great musician, he was also a thoughtful, supportive team-player – a communally-minded, kind and intelligent person.

“But artistically, in terms of being able to speak the same [musical] language, it was easier working with John. Getting back into a room and starting to play and letting the thing unfold… was really exciting.”

The band will head out on a world stadium tour later this year – find tickets here.

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