Ousted Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist Josh Klinghoffer believes he was actually held back creatively during his decade-long tenure in the band. In 2019, the Chili Peppers fired Klinghoffer upon John Frusciante‘s return to the group.
Klinghoffer, who now performs as part of Eddie Vedder’s side band, the Earthlings — as well as a touring member of Pearl Jam — spoke frankly to Guitar World and said, “Obviously, it’s sad when something is taken from you. I did a perfect 10 years with them, but for as much as I love those guys and loved playing with them, it was also enormously stifling creatively. They’re an established band with an established sound, and I learned over time how little deviating from that was possible.”
He went on to explain, “When I first joined, I wouldn’t use certain chords when I was writing if they sounded like something John would play. Or if it sounded like a choice they would have made on their last album, I purposely went the other way.”
Klinghoffer spoke about how far he was able to let his creativity shine during his run with the band: “I thought I was doing a good job of writing music with them, but it wound up not kind of becoming part of my story, or if it is part of my story with them, it’s a small part. As much as I thought they were up for experimentation, they generally stayed in their own lane.”
Although he calls his time with the band, “a blessing and a beautiful experience.” He also felt leaving was, “the best thing that could have happened to me. I’m free to explore other musical avenues and perhaps find my own sound more than I was able to with them.”
Back in the day, upon joining the Chili Peppers, drummer Chad Smith raved about Klinghoffer’s playing style: “Josh is not a hit you over the head kind of guy. He comes at you like a fog, y’know? It kind of envelopes you and he’s like a sonic architect more than like a riff guy. But he comes up with the coolest, smart, cool — like he can rock hard, no doubt about it. Josh can get his rock on. But Josh is an incredible musician.”