Josh Klinghoffer Says His RHCP Firing "Truly Felt Like a Death"
"But how many times do you get to walk away from a death and live the rest of your life?"
Published Jan 31, 2020Last week, Josh Klinghoffer opened up about his departure from the Red Hot Chili Peppers on Marc Maron's WTF podcast, and the guitarist has now gone even deeper into how his ouster led to the return of John Frusciante in a new interview.
In conversation with Rolling Stone, Klinghoffer revealed further details surrounding how he was fired from the band and how he felt in the aftermath. After receiving the news in person, the guitarist "spent the whole day texting" as a result of the band confirming Frusciante's return in a statement on Instagram.
"I was totally surprised," Klinghoffer said, adding that he played no role in writing it. "And it does look exactly like a death announcement. In a way, it saved me from having to tell people so I just went home with my coffee and sat outside in the backyard and texted with people for the next three hours nonstop."
He continued: "It truly felt like a death, but how many times do you get to walk away from a death and live the rest of your life? So I sat there in the backyard with a really heavy heart; it was a truly emotional afternoon and this is just something that, for me, is nice to feel because I don't really get to slow down and smell the emotions very often."
Klinghoffer previously revealed on WTF that he hadn't been in touch with Frusciante throughout his entire decade spent with the Chili Peppers, and told Rolling Stone that he didn't know the guitarist had been talking to his former bandmates about possibly coming back into the fold.
"John had reached out to Anthony [around 18 months ago] and they had dinner — that was a surprise — and then John had reached out to our tour manager," Klinghoffer recalled. "He was definitely showing his face in Chili Pepper world a little bit just with emails and apologizing about past behaviour. So every time I would hear a story about that, I thought, 'What is he doing? Does he want to come back?'"
In spite of that, Klinghoffer said his firing was "a total blindside," as the band were "so far into the writing of a new record... here was an album that was more than half written, but I guess I let my guard down because I thought we had done so much work. If this had been at the end of a touring cycle and everyone hadn't seen each other in a month and John was making himself available, I would have thought, 'Uh-oh, what's happening?'"
However, Klinghoffer told Rolling Stone that he isn't taking the decision personally "because I know they care about me and I know they liked me as a person."
"If they had said, 'Thank you, Josh, we've enjoyed being in a band with you, but we're now going to hire this person,' that would have been a whole different metric. It's John. It's the guy who I've fucking adored. We had a really special friendship for a while where we made records together and hung out and learned Beatles songs. There's never a moment that I could look back and think this has been bad. The only thing is, it's kind of crazy to, on a dime, remove someone from something. … It's like, "Oh, you have this and now you don't.'"
Klinghoffer also looked back on the two records that were made during his time with the band — 2011's I'm with You and 2016's The Getaway — though his reflections are sure to shock some listeners:
I'm not particularly fond of the two records. I liked the songs and I think we wrote some really cool songs together, but I'm such a pain in the ass. Rick Rubin was the producer [on I'm with You]. And the reason why I didn't want to work with him the second time [the band was in talks for Rubin to produce the new album] was because I felt like those four had a relationship and I was the odd man out. And here I am trying to join and it's hard to have a voice that's supposedly equal when you have this 25-plus-year relationship and I'm this new little pissant in the corner saying, "No, I don't think that should change there. We should go one more time." Like no one else in the band is going to listen to me; they're going to listen to their friend who they've known and worked with and collaborated with successfully for ages. And it's not like that's a bad thing. It makes perfect sense. But I'm trying to be an artist in this environment with the hand I was dealt; I have more songs written and a pile of ideas that no one will ever hear because there's only so much time to get to.
Returning to the subject of the half-written record, Klinghoffer said he expects the band to scrap the songs they had penned ahead of Frusciante's return. "I was always hoping for raw-sounding, energetic Chili Peppers music," he said of that material. "There's a part of me that wanted them to sound like they sounded in 1986 maybe with two or three beautiful ballads on a record, but basically I was always trying to get them to sound like [1987's] The Uplift Mofo Party Plan."
When asked if he sees a time where he would play with the Chili Peppers again in any capacity, Klinghoffer offered, "Yes, of course. I love them as people and I always want to play with my friends and that's all I've ever wanted. I just wanted to be in a band since I was 12. And I got it a little bit for 10 years."
Drummer Chad Smith recently revealed that RHCP are at work on a new album with Frusciante. You can read Klinghoffer's entire Rolling Stone interview here.