John Frusciante

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John Frusciante : biography

March 5, 1970 –

After leaving the Red Hot Chili Peppers, he switched to using a Yamaha SG as his primary guitar for his solo work. Frusciante has also noted his increased use of the Roland MC-202 for his electronic music, saying that he was at the point "where I thought as much like a 202ist as I did a guitarist…" The MC-202 has been his primary melodic instrument in his electronic music.

Frusciante uses a variety of vocal styles on his solo albums, ranging from the distressed screeches on Niandra Lades and Usually Just a T-Shirt and Smile from the Streets You Hold to more conventional styles on later records. With the Chili Peppers, Frusciante provided backing vocals in a falsetto tenor, a style he started on Blood Sugar Sex Magik. He thoroughly enjoyed his role in the Chili Peppers as backing vocalist, and said that backing vocals are a "real art form". Despite his commitment to the Chili Peppers, he felt that his work with the band should remain separate from his solo projects. When he returned to the Chili Peppers in 1998, Kiedis wanted the band to record "Living in Hell", a song Frusciante had written several years before. Frusciante refused, feeling that the creative freedom he needed for his solo projects would have conflicted with his role in the band.

Technique

Frusciante’s guitar playing employs emphasis on appropriate melody, tone, and structure rather than virtuosity. Although virtuoso influences can be heard throughout his career, he has said that he often minimizes this.Kerrang! Issue #21; pp. 76–82 He feels that in general, guitar mastery has not evolved much since the 1960s and considers the greatest players of that decade unsurpassed. When he was growing up in the 1980s, many mainstream guitarists focused on speed. Because of this, he thinks that the skills of many defiant New Wave and punk guitarists were largely overlooked. Therefore he accentuates the melodically-driven technique of players such as Matthew Ashman of Bow Wow Wow and Bernard Sumner of Joy Division as much as possible because he thinks that their style has been overlooked and consequently underexplored. Despite this, he considers himself a fan of technique-driven guitarists like Randy Rhoads and Steve Vai, but represses an urge to emulate their style: "People believe that by playing faster and creating new playing techniques you can progress forward, but then they realize that emotionally they don’t progress at all. They transmit nothing to the people listening and they stay at where Hendrix was three decades ago. Something like that happened to Vai in the 80s." Believing that focusing only on "clean tones" is negative, Frusciante developed an interest in playing with what he calls a "grimy" sound. As a result, he considers it beneficial to "mistreat" his guitar and employ various forms of distortion when soloing. He also tries to break as many "stylistic boundaries" as he can to expand his musical horizons. He thinks that much of the output from today’s guitarists is unoriginal, and that many of his contemporaries "follow the rules with no risk".

Frusciante has stated that he became serious about creating and engineering his own electronic music in 2007. As he progressed in enhancing his skills with electronic instruments and techniques, he has stated that he felt comfortable with how R&B and Hip hop music integrated into his work. He has noted that these and other new techniques were all part the influences for his EP, Letur-Lefr. PBX Funicular Intaglio Zone was recorded while Frusciante looked to find new ways to play the guitar with the new forms of music and production that he had been studying. In his blog post, "My Recent History," he notes that "Aspects of PBX are the realization of combinations of styles of music I saw in my head many years ago, as potentials, but which I had no idea how to execute."

Frusciante’s approach to album composition has changed. On his early recordings, he welcomed sonic imperfections, noting that "even on [To Record Only Water for Ten Days] there are off-pitch vocals and out-of-tune guitars." However, on later albums such as Shadows Collide With People, he pursued the opposite: "I just wanted everything to be perfect—I didn’t want anything off pitch, or off time, or any unintentional this or that." Frusciante views songwriting as taking time, and does not force it: "If a song wants to come to me, I’m always ready to receive it, but I don’t work at it." Much of his solo material is first written on an acoustic or unamplified electric guitar.Di Perna, Alan. (April, 2005). "Basic Instinct". Guitar World Acoustic."Me and My Friends". Austin Chronicle. He also prefers to record his albums on analog tapes and other relatively primitive equipment.Tingen, Paul. (July, 2004). "John Frusciante’s Creative Explosion". Electronic Musician. This preference stems from his belief that older equipment can actually speed up the recording process, and that modern computerized recording technology gives only an illusion of efficiency. Frusciante tries to streamline the recording process as much as possible, because he thinks "music comes alive when [you] are creating it fast". He also enjoys the challenge of having to record something in very few takes, and believes that when musicians are unable to handle the pressure of having to record something quickly they often get frustrated or bogged down by perfectionism. With his focus on new styles of music, Frusciante describes having worked with the computer as an instrument, and having found the ability to merge old and new production techniques together. He has noted that there has been a change in how works on an album. In the past he would work on one song at a time, but with the new "Progressive Synth Pop" that he has been working on, he feels much more comfortable to work within the album as a whole.