​Justin Hawkins of the Darkness Disses John Frusciante's "Childlike" Guitar Playing

He thinks "Californication" is "a bad song with a terrible guitar solo"

Photos: Matt Forsythe (left), Drew de F Fawkes (right)

BY Alex HudsonPublished May 23, 2023

Justin Hawkins of the Darkness loves sparkly unitards and '70s cosplay, but one thing he definitely doesn't like is Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante. Hawkins has laid into the RHCP six-stringer, labelling him "overrated" and calling his "Californication" solo "terrible."

On his podcast Justin Hawkins Once Again, the one-hit wonder argued, "My issue with Red Hot Chilli Peppers is that I get nothing from John Frusciante's guitar playing," asserting that Frusciante doesn't use enough vibrato when he plays.

Speaking with Pat Finnerty of the (very funny) YouTube series What Makes This Song Stink — who once did an excellent video about "Dani California" — Hawkins specifically took issue with 1999 hit "Californication." 

"Someone said to me it's deliberately minimalist," Hawkins said. "Maybe it's that thing when you become a super accomplished painter and then you just do some naïve, childlike daubings, and that's your phase. I think that might have been one of the things that we he was exploring — but it doesn't stop it from being shit."

"Californication" is quite obviously minimalistic, and it's nowhere near as technical as the solos that Frusciante has recorded before and since — but Hawkins is obviously entitled to his opinion, which he gave unreservedly by saying, "That's a shitty song! That's a bad song with a terrible guitar solo. What more do you want?" Exclaim! ranked that song the eighth best of RHCP's career. (Pop quiz: name eight songs by the Darkness.)

As much as Hawkins dislikes Frusciante, he hates singer Anthony Kiedis even more. He argued, "It's an upside-down band in terms of the virtuosity of the instrumentation. The rhythm section is way better than what's happening in the mid to high frequencies."

Watch the video below.

Meanwhile, John Frusciante is preparing to release some electronic material under the alias Trickfinger. I wonder what Hawkins thinks of Frusciante's synth playing?

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