John Frusciante says he views bass as the lead instrument in Red Hot Chili Peppers: “I see each song as being like a bass solo where I'm there to support it”

Flea and John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers
(Image credit: Kevin Mazur / Getty)

John Frusciante has said he views the bass as the band’s lead instrument in a new 60 Minutes interview. 

Red Hot Chili Peppers were the somewhat unlikely subjects of a recent episode of the current affairs show and took the chance to discuss their remarkable, enduring connection.

“We’re all supporting each other at the same time,” says Frusciante early in the interview. “Everybody has different ways of doing that. I see the bass as the lead instrument the whole time. Flea doesn't see it that way. I see each song as being like a bass solo where I'm there to support it.”

The guitarist’s comments in the clip reflect those he made to Total Guitar last year.

“Too often people assume that a guitar player’s worth comes from their ability to draw attention to themselves,” Frusciante told Total Guitar. “To me, what [all the great players have] in common… is that they knew how to be a member of a band and make everybody else sound better.

“To me, it really doesn’t matter how much technique you have; the real skill in being a guitar player is in making the rest of the band sound good.”

60 Minutes host Jon Wertheim also underlines Frusciante commitment when he notes that the guitarist prefers to warm-up for four hours before a show.

Elsewhere, the footage documents the founding friendship of Anthony Kiedis and Flea – indeed the latter tears up, reflecting on their bond – as well as Frusciante and Flea’s (slightly less collaborative) concept of the ‘face-off’ songwriting technique. 

“We need a section. We've got a verse say and we need a chorus and in the old days we would start it out by going like that to each other,” says Frusciante, mockingly butting heads with Flea in the process. 

“We’d give each other a dirty look and then we'd go into other rooms, then we come in and each guy plays his section for the other guys.”

“We could either go home and like think of it at home,” adds Flea. “Or we can do it right then like, ‘We're gonna do a face-off right now and the part's gonna get done!’”

It's a technique that vocalist Kiedis comments creates an “unexpected moment of humility... whatever is the best for the song.”

Check out the full 60 Minutes interview in the clip above.

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Matt Parker

Matt is a staff writer for Before that he spent 10 years as a freelance music journalist, interviewing artists for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar,, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched, which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.