Rick Rubin on Red Hot Chili Peppers: "I went to the first rehearsal after John rejoined the band, and it made me cry"

Rick Rubin
(Image credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Spotify)

BEST OF 2021: Rick Rubin has deep history with a number of legendary musical acts and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are arguably top of that list. So it isn't a surprise to find out he had a front row seat to the band's reunion with guitarist John Frusciante in late 2019. Even so, it sounds like the guitarist's return still affected him deeply.

It really hit me in an emotional way

The legendary producer / songwriting coach / bearded musical sage was the guest on the 800th episode of Chri Jericho's Talk Is Jericho podcast, and he had some tasty tea to spill on the band's comeback album with Frusciante too. 

"We're finishing their new album right now actually," Rubin revealed to Jericho. "Frusciante's back in the band and it's unbelievable."I went to the first rehearsal, that I was invited to after John rejoined the band and it made me cry. It was so thrilling to see that group of people back together because they made such great music for so long together and it really hit me in an emotional way."

If there's going to be 12 songs on an album, they might write 50, they might write 100 to find those 12

Rubin also elaborated a little on his working dynamic with the LA band.

"With the Peppers we talk about songs. They have really good habits in that they write lots of songs which is something I think we developed from the beginning – this idea of overwriting. If there's going to be 12 songs on an album, they might write 50, they might write 100 to find those 12. They'll play them for me in rehearsal and we'll talk about them; about song's strengths, weaknesses, how to make them better. What we can do. Where they work, where they don't, and you try different stuff. 

"I don't necessarily have the way to fix them," Rubin conceded, "But I notice where the weaknesses are and just say, 'This part going into this part doesn't sound so good, is there a better way to do it? Then they come up with a better way."

As for how the new album sounds, Rubin dropped a little hint that suggests it could be eclectic. When Jericho expressed his love for the band's 2006 double album Stadium Arcadium, Rubin concurred. 

"It's great, and I hope you like the new stuff. I think if you like Stadium Arcadium, you might like this," Rubin suggested in the interview you can hear in full below. 

As for Frusciante's second return to the Chili Peppers and the specific dynamic it brings, Rubin has his own perspective as an insider and a fan.

"I would say that it's the combination," he explained. "When Flea and John play together something magic happens. When Chad plays with Flea and John, something magic happens. When Anthony sings, based on what those guys play, it sounds like the Chili Peppers. 

"There are some flavours on the new album and when it happens it's like, oh my god - nobody sounds like that. It's so quintessentially Chili Peppers."  

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.