The Darkness' Justin Hawkins Calls John Frusciante's Guitar Playing 'Child-like'

24 May 2023 | 2:49 pm | Mary Varvaris
Originally Appeared In

Maybe Frusciante was exploring minimalism, but according to Justin Hawkins, that "doesn’t stop it from being sh*t.”

Photo of Justin Hawkins & Red Hot Chili Peppers

Photo of Justin Hawkins & Red Hot Chili Peppers (Credit: Angela Padovan & Clara Balzary)

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Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante was the subject of The Darkness vocalist Justin Hawkins’ ire, making up the bulk of conversation on a new episode of his podcast, Justin Hawkins Rides Again.

Hawkins didn’t sing the guitarist’s praises, instead, he labelled Frusciante’s playing “shit”. 

The I Believe In A Thing Called Love vocalist was accompanied by Pat Finnerty from the YouTube series What Makes This Song Stink for a podcast episode called “How NOT To Write A Song,” singling out the Red Hot Chili Peppers for the better part of two hours.

Finnerty called the memorable Californication solo “dinky” while Hawkins said, “Maybe it’s like that thing where you become a super-accomplished painter and start doing some naive child-like daubings, and that’s your phase.

“I think that might have been one of the things he was exploring, but it doesn’t stop it from being shit.”

Hawkins explained, “My issue with Red Hot Chili Peppers is that I get nothing from John Frusciante’s guitar playing,” despite the comments he receives from the band’s fans arguing that Frusciante is a guitar hero.

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He elaborated, “I feel like if we can call Mark Knopfler [Dire Straits] an underrated player, I would describe John Frusciante as an overrated player. In fact, I have done that, more than once.”

To further make his point, Hawkins picked up a nearby acoustic guitar to exhibit what exactly it is he doesn’t enjoy about listening to the Red Hot Chili Peppers player. “He doesn’t give me any of the… [single note vibrato]; he goes like this… [single note without vibrato],” Hawkins demonstrated.

There is something Hawkins appreciates about the guitar player he went to town on, praising his distinctive tone and use of Fender Stratocaster guitars. Check out the full video below.

Last year, Red Hot Chili Peppers released two albums, Unlimited Love and Return Of The Dream Canteen. Commenting on Return Of The Dream Canteen, the band offered, "Return Of The Dream Canteen feels like a nod to the creative prosperity of a psychedelic desert.

“Something about the four of us wandering into a time and place that had less definition than normal lead to more music… John’s tenacious focus on treating every song as though it was equal to the next helped us to realize more songs than some might know what to do with. In a world where a single-track release is typical, we decided to release back-to-back double records. We feel good about it."