(Credits: Far Out / Album Cover)
Throughout the 1990s, there weren’t too many modern artists that could be considered guitar heroes. Although the grunge movement still had the guitar at the forefront of the stereo mix, it was more about the noise one could extract from it rather than the technical finesse that went into playing every single note. For all of the fretboard gunslinging going on in the 1980s, John Frusciante carried on his signature flash into the next generation.
Filling in for Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist Hillel Slovak, Frusciante was known for bringing an element of musical sophistication whenever he strapped on a guitar. Equally influenced by the likes of Parliament/Funkadelic as he was with Frank Zappa, every one of Frusciante’s lead breaks practically felt like him speaking through his guitar, featuring various modal centres throughout their runtime.
For all of the incredible flash he could put into his solos, Frusciante always admired the new school of guitar players coming up in his wake. Talking about his favourite modern artists, Frusciante first waxed poetic about Ty Segall. Working with various outfits throughout his career, Frusciante would single out his album Twins as one of his favourite modern albums.
When discussing Segall’s technique, Frusciante told frusciante-red-hot-chili-peppers-favorite-modern-day-guitarists” title=””>Guitar World, “He’s so good at making the instrument and the amplification respond to his feelings – you never know what it’s gonna sound like next. His playing has that deceptive ‘careless’ quality that can only actually be done by people who are so intense as souls”.
Outside of the singer-songwriter world, Frusciante also gravitated towards the sound of psychedelic rock outfit Wand. Recalling the playing Cory Hanson, Frusciante would call his technique “exactly what I want to hear from the instrument”, perfectly knowing how to balance the amount of heart and taste that goes into constructing a piece of music.
For all of the tremendous sonic textures that can be pulled out of a guitar, it’s another thing to be able to play in an uninhabited manner, as John Dwyer has showcased. Being one of the leading members of the garage outfit Osees, Dwyer has been known to take his music wherever he sees fit, even if it isn’t always taken seriously.
In fact, Frusciante preferred the subtle tongue-in-cheek nature of the band, explaining, “There is a very serious sense of humour in their music – which is a rare kind of musical emotion – but there’s also a very warm comforting coldness to a lot of it. It’s beautiful when music unifies contradictions like that”.
While many genres like psychedelia and garage rock may be familiar to Frusciante’s tastes, he admits that Zach Irons of Irontom has been creating sounds he had never heard. Always finding different ways to squeeze notes out of the instrument, Frusciante thought that Irons cut to the root of what rock and roll should be, commending Irons for “finding ways of retaining the feeling while completely changing the role of the instrument”.
Although there aren’t always the most apparent similarities between any of the guitarists Frusciante mentioned, the whole purpose of guitar playing was never about falling back on traditions. For all of the tremendous sonic detours that Red Hot Chili Peppers have made throughout their career, Frusciante thinks these guitarists are flying the flag for every musician’s right to follow their creative muse wherever it might take them.
John Frusciante’s favourite modern guitarists
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