In the new issue of Rolling Stone, on stands and available through Rolling Stone All Access on August 19th, the Red Hot Chili Peppers talk about the turmoil they went through after guitarist John Frusciante quit the band in 2009. "I was afraid," bassist Flea told Rolling Stone Senior Writer David Fricke ahead of the band's first album in 15 years without Frusciante, I'm With You (out August 30th). "I couldn't imagine going out with someone else. It seemed done….It's like missing a family member."
Lead singer Anthony Kiedis was less concerned about their ability to carry on without Frusciante. "I never had the feeling we were done," he says. "Flea's biggest concern, that he shared with me, was that he didn't want to continue if it wasn't as good as it had ever been, at it's best: 'We've accomplished too much to do anything half-assed."
Thirty-one year old guitarist Josh Klinghoffer - a close friend of Frusciante who played with the Chili's on their 2007 world tour - quietly joined the band in late 2009 and began writing songs with the group. "Flea and John had a special relationship," says Klinghoffer. "I saw it for years. That Flea and Chad and Anthony could open up and let someone else in, someone new, is amazing to me."
Other highlights from the story:
-During the band's long hiatus, Flea enrolled at the University of Southern California's Thornton School of Music. He took courses in theory, composition and trumpet - though he didn't receive any credit. "He would call me two or three times in an afternoon - 'I have a question about the assignments, this chord in measure two," says Flea theory instructor, Neal Desby. "He was very serious, and the other students could see that. It became a lesson in itself - 9:30 in the morning, this guy's here. He doesn't have to do this."
-Anthony Kiedis says his entire life changed when his son Everly was born in 2007. "It used to be all about me," he says. "Now it's all about my son. It was the greatest thing that could have ever happened to me…I get up when he gets up. I have breakfast with him, but I don't make it. He has a nanny. My job is to tell him stories while he eats. And he is demanding about his storytelling. If I try to get away with a short one, no. We're talkin' full-length."
-Frusciante couldn't be reached for comment for the story, but the band understands why he quit. "I think he just wants to be free to do what he wants," says Flea. "Without the commerce involved with being in a big band." Drummer Chad Smith recently bumped into Frusciante at a Soundgarden show. "He looked good and happy," says the drummer. Later, Frusciante sent Smith a text message: "It made me really happy to see you."
Watch an exclusive interview with Anthony Kiedis and Chad Smith about the Red Hot Chili Peppers' new abum:
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• Inside the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Comeback Album
• Red Hot Chili Peppers Roar Back at Secret California Show
• Photos: Red Hot Chili Peppers and More Show Some Skin on the Cover of Rolling Stone