Red Hot Chili Peppers: “The biggest event was John Frusciante returning to the band”

"Getting back into a room and starting to play and letting the thing unfold… was really exciting"

Anthony Kiedis and Flea have opened up about John Frusciante‘s return to Red Hot Chili Peppers, ahead of the band’s forthcoming album ‘Unlimited Love’.

Speaking to NME in an exclusive interview photographed by Oscar-winning director Gus Van Sant, the band spoke about the new album 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,” Kiedis told NME.

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

Red Hot Chili Peppers cover interview
Red Hot Chili Peppers on the cover of NME

While working towards new album ‘Unlimited Love’, Kiedis and Flea had the realisation that something was missing.

“It was going slowly and without a real definitive drive to it. It was just sort of meandering,” Kiedis said. “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?”

Red Hot Chili Peppers
Credit: Sandy Kim

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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.”

While COVID-19 halted their plans to record the album, the band took the pause as an opportunity to write, ending up with 100 brand new songs to pick from. On the recording process, Kiedis said: “The dynamic was very healthy, productive and creative. Sometimes [we] can be a little too competitive and it can lead to discord, but [this time] we really pushed each other in a positive way.”

The band released a video for ‘Black Summer’, their first single in five years, earlier today, writing in the press release: “Thank you for listening, we hope you enjoy it. ROCK OUT MOTHERFUCKERS!” Watch the video above.

Red Hot Chili Peppers’ ‘Unlimited Love’ is out on April 1 via Warner Bros.

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

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