On his previous albums, as recently as last year's Shadows Collide With People, the Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist felt the need to make his recordings technically perfect, but as he listened to some of his favorite recordings, including the Rolling Stones' "Time Is On My Side," he gradually altered his approach.
"Brian Jones is playing a tambourine in that song that's totally out of time," he says. "At the time I was recording Shadows Collide With People, there would be no way in hell that I'd let a tambourine like that go by. I still might not let one go by that sounds that bad, but I use stuff like that as a reference point to remember, 'If they got away with that then I can definitely get away with this.' I started to realize that the right amount of imperfections, when they're spaced evenly across a record, can be really beautiful."
Frusciante is on a six-month hiatus from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and the free time to experiment has led to some unexpected recordings, including an album made with his friend Josh Klinghoffer (Thelonious Monster) and Fugazi bassist Joe Lally under the name Ataxia.
"All the rest of the albums are pretty concise songs, but that one is more stretched out," Frusciante says. "It's got lots of guitar solos and it's more of a sound of three people in room creating together. I've never done such out-of-control guitar playing on a record before. There's photographs of us in the studio and I look like I'm about ready to jump out of my skin."
With most albums made over the course of ten days or less, Frusciante took inspiration to go against the grain from the contrarian spirit of filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard, in matching the more prolific pace of musicians of a generation ago, who frequently released a couple albums a year.
"For anybody who thinks that I'm just rushing through it or going too fast or something, I'm not," says Frusciante. "We just know the songs really well. If I'm going to sing a song, I don't sing it twenty times, I just sing it once. If I need to fix a line or two, I fix 'em. To me, a band, especially a rock band, should be good enough where you should just be able to go in and play the song."