Today Frusciante is drug-free and healthy. He's an avid practitioner of Ashtanga, a particularly strenuous style of yoga.
"I've always been a person who's had a lot of problems with the stress of the world," he says. "Like I'm susceptible to motion tension. When I get in a car or airplane, it makes me tense. But since I started doing yoga, where you're building muscle as well as relaxing yourself, I haven't had such a problem with motion tension. I don't do the actual meditation part of yoga. But I think that when I play guitar I'm probably employing a lot of the rudiments of meditation, because I'm completely focused on something that's kind of abstract.
I feel like there's a stillness inside my mind, which is what you're going after when you do something like meditation. So even though I don't really go to yoga for that spiritual angle, it probably is helping me to be able to do that better."
These days, Frusciante says, I believe that there are things we don't see with our eyes that are making every moment what it is. And every person is made up of a bunch of people. And everybody who's alive is everybody who died. I just think it's all one big energy working together.
I see the world as being very balanced--completely, perfectly balanced."
Unlike his friend, Flea does meditate on a regular basis. "But for me meditation and yoga are more like a science than a religious path," he says. I've read a lot of Buddhist books and stuff, but I've never been a Buddhist. I just like the idea of the Buddha. The same way I like the idea of Jesus. I like the idea of someone who is completely giving in their every breath. I just try to live my life like that every day. Try."
The Red Hot Chili Peppers' image has always been intricately bound up with the City of Angels. "I love being associated with L.A. because it is such a paradox of a land," says Kiedis. "And I believe in paradox as being a kind of higher truth. L.A. is the most ridiculous place in the world, but it's also the greatest place in the world."
And the Chili Peppers embody this paradox perhaps better than any other band. Their muscleman image reflects the city's obsession with the beauty of the physical body--pumped up pecs and bulging biceps glistening in the smoggy golden sunlight. But the Peppers are also deeply enmeshed in the other side of L.A. culture--it's obssession with the spiritual. There are probably more gurus, ashrams, yoga studios and New Age shops per square mile in Los Angeles than in any other American city. And the Red Hot Chili Peppers--with their frequent disquisitions on brotherly love, Frusciante's vivid experiences and Flea's interest in meditation and Buddhism--are prime exponents of L.A. spirituality. Non Angelenos may scoff at the city's equal reverence for Barbie and the Buddha. But the Chili Peppers--they understand.
"There is something that is very important about the physical existence," says Kiedis. "The connection to the earth--the celebration of being in this body and all we can do with it. But at the same time, we are physical beings having a spiritual experience. And the combo platter of those two is very much the makeup of what the Chili Peppers do. With any kind of funk music, there is a visceral, guttural celebration going on, where you just wanna dance and jump. But there's also a sense of the spirit that inspires all that."