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13 Years Ago: Red Hot Chili Peppers Release ‘By the Way’

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13 Years Ago: Red Hot Chili Peppers Release ‘By the Way’

By Chad Childers

After the return of guitarist John Frusciante and the success of Californication, what would Red Hot Chili Peppers do for an encore? On July 9, 2002, we found out as the band released their eighth studio album, By the Way.

And while Californication had Frusciante getting back into the flow with the band, By the Way found the more confident guitarist really putting his musical stamp on the music. “Like Californication, writing By the Way has been one of the happiest times of my life,” Frusciante told Total Guitar. “It’s been a chance to just keep on writing better songs and improving my guitar playing.” While Frusciante was largely credited as leading the creative force on the disc, the guitarist viewed it more as a collaborative effort, stating, “I know what Anthony [Kiedis] and Chad [Smith] and Flea have said but I think of it more as a band effort. I do put a lot of energy into everything, sure, but I don’t underestimate that the real energy comes from the four of us. That’s number one over any of our individual efforts.”

Instead of the typical funk-filled fare that fans had become used to, the album leaned more on melody and harmony. At the time, Frusciante was getting more into the ’60s sounds of the Beatles and Beach Boys, while also gaining interest in the doo-wop groups of the era. And while he also was pulling from some of his punk influences, producer Rick Rubin found the sound of the melodic tracks more original and started having the band focus on that material.

“We started finding some magic and some music and some riffs and some rhythms and some jams and some grooves, and we added to it and subtracted from it and pushed it around and put melodies to it,” recalled Kiedis.