John Frusciante Says He Wasn’t Trying To Compete With Flea

Harmony between bandmates is an important element to hold the band together, and from time to time competition between fellow musicians might cause trouble. Red Hot Chili Pepper‘s John Frusciante discussed the dynamics between his bandmates on Broken Record Podcast and stated that his intention has never been to compete with Flea.

Frusciante recalled the creative processes of various RHCP songs when the subject drifted to finding the power within simple sounds. The guitarist stated that ‘Breaking the Girl’ was one of the first tracks he had written before the band’s rehearsals, and he sort of collaborated with Anthony Kiedis to find the right rhythm.

John disclosed that Kiedis played the guitar riffs but it wasn’t really a guitar part. Anthony was just hitting all the strings, and Frusciante took that basic rhythm and ‘made something out of it.’ The creative process of ‘The Power of Equality,’ also featured a basic riff, as John had come up with it early on.

The musician stated that it was then he realized the simple power of basic riffs and rhythms. During these creative periods, John was quite busy composing new melodies, but he wasn’t trying to compete with Flea. The musician had accepted the simple fact that anybody could be busy and they wouldn’t need to necessarily show off with that fact.

He also stated that Flea was allowed to be busy and he wouldn’t sound like he was showing it off. Yet, Frusciante remarked that when he appeared to be busy, he felt like he was violating others’ personal space. However, in the end, the musician appreciated giving space to others. He gave an example of Led Zeppelin, as Jimmy Page played with his bandmates in harmony since he knew when to hold on and give space to the drums.

John Frusciante on the creative process of RHCP and competing with Flea:

“‘Breaking the Girl’ song was one of the first things that I wrote before we ever started rehearsing and ‘Funky Monks’ songs, I sort of collaborated with Anthony. He was playing the guitar part but it wasn’t really the guitar part. It was really just one finger and he was hitting all the strings, and he was [imitates the rhythm]. So, I took that basic rhythm and made a thing out of it.

I think that was the basic riff for ‘The Power of Equality,’ which was something I came up with early. It was just like I was really starting to understand how to get power out of simplicity. I wasn’t trying to compete with Flea as far as being busy and stuff like that. It was one of those things where I finally had it through my head like, ‘Flea is allowed to be busy.’

Somehow, he can be busy and not sound like he’s showing off. If I do it, it sounds like I’m eating into everybody else’s space. Appreciating stuff like Led Zeppelin where you notice Jimmy Page’s playing gives so much space to the drums. He’s often not playing, he’ll often hold a note and leave it to allow the snare drum to be the maximum size that it can be.”

You can listen to the full interview below.