I remember being 8 years old and sneaking into my brother’s room to get some CDs. I would smuggle them back to my room and play them on my tiny boombox. Out of all the different albums there was only a few that would find their way back to my room constantly. Re by Café Tacuba (a Mexican Rock band), Californication and By The Way by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Ever since I have been a fan of John Frusciante and RHCP. Even though I was young I could appreciate their individual talent and I knew there was something about the guitar I liked but I wasn’t sure what it was.
Since I was 5 years old I always had an interest in guitar. This might be because I was surrounded by guitars growing up. My dad had a couple guitars in his room and brother had a garage rock band with his friends. Naturally, I gave it a shot and tried guitar ….and gave up multiple times. It was hard and I always had a “reason” why I wouldn’t be able to play guitar. My biggest excuse was because I was left-handed. However, I was fascinated by guitar and tried AGAIN AND AGAIN. I remember my brother had a subscription to Guitar World magazine. Who was on the cover in July 2006? John Frusciante from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I was delighted to know that the magazine also showed you how to play Under The Bridge, one of my favorite songs by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It even came with a DVD where John himself shows you some key techniques to playing the song and playing guitar with his unique style. After weeks of studying and hard work…I DID IT. I learned the entire song on guitar. It was the very first song I learned all the way through. John is clearly a huge influence on my guitar playing and technique.
Guitar World Magazine, July 2006.
This is the video from the DVD that came with the magazine. Here, Frusciante shows key parts of ‘Under The Bridge,’ and some history and philosophy on his playing techniques.
I know most of you aren’t guitar players. Don’t worry, I’m done geeking out on guitar…. kind of.
What can we learn from John Frusciante? If you’ve watched most of his interviews as if you’re trying to find all evidence on bigfoot like a conspiracy theorist, then you have probably noticed a pattern. He mentions “feel” a lot. To him, everything is about feel. When he plays guitar, it’s all about feel. This is to the point that he believes in finishing projects within a day because the atmosphere in the room is different each day, the energy is different, his guitar amp sounds different. He almost takes each moment as if the planets have perfectly aligned and it won’t happen again for another century.
This is an article where Frusciante goes over his guitars and sporadically talks about feel and his creative process.
There are two lessons to learn from him:
Live in the now. We all plan for the future or think, “I’ll do it next week,” but the thing is we are constantly changing and so is everything around us. Like John, just focus on the now and be present. It’s a great mentality to have, in my opinion.
The other lesson is no matter how complex or how simple anything you do is, as long as it’s authentic and you FEEL it, it’ll be amazing. John’s guitar solos can be really simple, yet he puts all his feel behind every note. He is considered one of the best of our time without having to be the most technically savvy guitarist. Don’t get me wrong, John shreds! However, he opts for simplicity with tons of feeling in most cases. I have used these teachings in my everyday life, and it is far more rewarding than trying to impress with complexity.
Samurai Guitarist performs the solo from ‘Californication.’ One of Frusciante’s most popular solos and its low difficulty makes it accessible for beginner guitarists to learn. Samurai Guitarist also goes in detail on why this solo is one of the best.
In conclusion, John teaches us to live in the present and to put feeling behind everything we do. This how many people get discovered or become viral without being knowledgeable or a teen prodigy. Try these lessons in your everyday life and I’m sure you’ll see a big improvement. On a side note, I was super excited when John mentioned he would be rejoining RHCP since he left back in 2006. I’m sure there were shows in the works, but the world was hit with a pandemic. Today, things are looking brighter so hopefully we get a RHCP/John Frusciante reunion tour soon. If you’re a Red Hot Chili Peppers fan, let me know on social media.
I’ll leave you with this video compilation of John Frusciante and his solos. You’ll notice the feel we’ve been talking about and also that he is so in the moment that he slightly changes some of the solos on the spot. Incredible.