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John Frusciante explains “Faceoffs” with Flea

Flea and John Frusciante
(Image credit: Pau Venteo/Europa Press)

Red Hot Chilli Peppers guitarist John Frusciante revealed he and bandmate Flea used to resort to “faceoffs” when trying to write songs together.

The aim was to challenge themselves to do better than the other, hoping that the result would be better music.

Frusciante told Guitar World: “Flea and I, we’ve always done these things called faceoffs. If we’ve been jamming and maybe we’ve got a good verse that we came up with, but it needs another section, in the old days we used to literally put our foreheads next to each other and give each other kind of a mean look.

“And then it would be, ‘Okay, I’ll go outside. You can stay here.’ We’d go in separate rooms, and I’d write a section and Flea would write a section.

“We’d both attempt to write a chorus or a bridge or whatever it was, and then we’d come back into the room and one guy would play everybody his part, the other guy plays everybody his part, and one of them makes it into the song. Or sometimes both of them made it into the song.”

Frusciante also revealed that he’d barely played guitar during his decade-long absence from RHCP, continuing to practice while he avoided using the instrument in the music he was making.

“Practicing is something I do to stimulate the brain in interesting ways,” he explained. “I still hadn’t written any songs, though.”

That changed when he began thinking about rejoining in 2019. “ picked up my guitar and I went, ‘Hmmm, I wonder if I can still write a rock song?’ Because my whole sense of melody had switched to a completely different vocabulary. I picked up my guitar and Black Summer came out.”

While vocalist Anthony Kiedis made changes to the melody, Black Summer, that first rock song in 10 years made it onto the Chilli Peppers’ latest album, Unlimited Love.

The band visit the UK later this month as part of a European tour.

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Not only is one-time online news editor Martin an established rock journalist and drummer, but he’s also penned several books on music history, including SAHB Story: The Tale of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band (opens in new tab), a band he once managed, and the best-selling Apollo Memories (opens in new tab) about the history of the legendary and infamous Glasgow Apollo. Martin has written for Classic Rock and Prog and at one time had written more articles for Louder than anyone else (we think he's second now). He’s appeared on TV and when not delving intro all things music, can be found travelling along the UK’s vast canal network.