|Niandra LaDes and|
Usually Just a T-Shirt
|Studio album by|
|Released||November 22, 1994|
|John Frusciante chronology|
Niandra LaDes and Usually Just a T-Shirt is the debut album by the American musician John Frusciante, released on November 22, 1994, by American Recordings.
Frusciante was previously a member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but left in 1992 after he became overwhelmed by their newfound popularity. He became severely depressed, developed a serious drug addiction, and isolated himself in his home to record music.
Niandra LaDes and Usually Just a T-Shirt combines avant-garde and stream-of-consciousness styles, with guitar, piano and effects on a four-track recorder. It was met with confusion and a mixed response from fans and critics, and sold 15,000 copies by 1996. Two years later, Frusciante rehabilitated and rejoined the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Frusciante joined the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1988 at the age of 18, and released his first album with the group, Mother's Milk , the following year.The follow-up album, Blood Sugar Sex Magik , was recorded in an empty mansion where the band decided to live for the duration of recording. Frusciante adapted well to the environment, and often spent his time alone painting, listening to music, and recording songs that would eventually make up the first half of the album, Niandra LaDes. Blood Sugar Sex Magik was released on September 24, 1991, and was an instant success. The album peaked at number three in the U.S. and went on to sell more than thirteen million copies worldwide. Soon after the album's release, Frusciante became overwhelmed by the band's newfound popularity. He felt that the Red Hot Chili Peppers were too famous, and wished they were still playing small nightclubs like they were before he had joined. During Blood Sugar Sex Magik's promotional tour, Frusciante began using heroin and cocaine heavily. He and vocalist Anthony Kiedis often argued before and after performances. According to Kiedis, Frusciante purposely sabotaged the Saturday Night Live performance of "Under the Bridge" by playing the wrong intro for the song and out of key. His relationship with the band had become progressively more strained, and he abruptly quit during the Japanese leg of their world tour in 1992.
After leaving the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Frusciante continued to write and record solo material. He had been doing so since the age of nine, but had never considered releasing his material to the public. –including Johnny Depp, Perry Farrell, Gibby Haynes and Red Hot Chili Peppers bandmate Flea –encouraged him to release the material he wrote in his spare time during the Blood Sugar Sex Magik sessions. Frusciante began working on final cuts of the songs he had been writing, and producing them at his home. According to Frusciante, each song was completed in one take. During this period, Frusciante's use of heroin became more extreme; he began viewing drugs as the only way to "make sure you stay in touch with beauty instead of letting the ugliness of the world corrupt your soul".That was until several of his friends
During a 1994 interview, a visibly intoxicated Frusciante noted that he wrote the album in order to create "interesting music", which he felt no longer existed. He felt contemporary artists were not writing material he deemed worth listening to and the mainstream population were settling for mediocrity.Drugs were another significant topic on which Frusciante based Niandra LaDes and Usually Just a T-Shirt. According to Frusciante, he "was stoned for every single note [he] played on the album". He increased his drug use to cope with worsening depression that was caused by leaving the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and his subsequent isolation. Several songs on the album deal with his dislike for the Red Hot Chili Peppers' success, such as the album's eleventh track, "Blood on My Neck From Success".
All the music on the record was written by Frusciante, save for the cover of hardcore punk band Bad Brains' song "Big Takeover".The track was intentionally slowed down and recorded melodically because of a pastime in which Frusciante sang punk songs in different tempos: "It was just something I had been walking around thinking of in my head. Sometimes I'll walk around singing punk rock songs to myself, but as if they were regular songs instead of punk rock songs, you know, slow it down and make a melody instead of just yelling them out. And then the idea occurred me to record it like a Led Zeppelin ballad with mandolins and stuff." River Phoenix, a friend of Frusciante's, contributed guitar and backing vocals to two songs that were intended be included on the record, but were ultimately left off following his death in October.
Niandra LaDes and Usually Just a T-Shirt incorporates Frusciante's avant-garde style of song composition, with his stream-of-consciousness methodology.It features minimal orchestration, and Frusciante's vocals have a "fragile, wispy quality" as described by AllMusic. CMJ New Music Monthly called it "probably the most fucked-up album ever released by someone who had once played in stadiums." Frusciante recorded, mixed, produced and mastered the entire record by himself on a four-track tape, and released it on Rick Rubin's label, American Recordings. Warner Bros., the Red Hot Chili Peppers' label, originally held the rights to the album because of the leaving-artist clause in Frusciante's Red Hot Chili Peppers contract. Because he was living as a recluse, the label gladly handed the rights over to Rubin, who released the album under his label.
The cover art of Niandra LaDes and Usually Just a T-Shirt is a sepia photograph of Frusciante in drag. According to Toni Oswald, Frusciante's partner at the time of the album's making, this choice was inspired by Rrose Sélavy, the feminine pseudonym of Marcel Duchamp—the French painter and writer whom Oswald and Frusciante both deeply admired. Frusciante devised the name "Niandra LaDes" as his own feminine alter ego. The phrase "Usually Just a T-Shirt" meanwhile derives from a clothes-exchanging ritual that Oswald and Frusciante often took part in when Frusciante was away on tour; after Frusciante asked what Oswald would wear with his clothes, she would reply, "Usually just a t-shirt." The phrase "To Clara" in the lower right refers to Clara Balzary, the first daughter of Flea.
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|
Niandra LaDes and Usually Just a T-Shirt was initially previewed by Billboard magazine, who said that "Chili Peppers fans might be daunted by the album's elusive experimentalism."A representative of American Recordings did not foresee the album as being viable in any mainstream music stores, and some retailers went as far as to ban it from being sold. After the album was released, Frusciante played three small performances, and participated in a few magazine interviews to promote the album, explaining in one interview that people would be able to understand his work only if "their heads are capable of tripping out". At one point shortly after release, Frusciante began searching for a string quartet to play the album with him on tour. The idea was eventually discarded when he could not find a band that "understands why Ringo Starr is such a great drummer, can play Stravinsky, and also smokes pot". The concept of a tour was ultimately abandoned as well, due to Frusciante's diminishing health.
Niandra LaDes and Usually Just a T-Shirt was met with general confusion and a mixed response from fans and critics. –but definitely a fascinating, often lovely mess. As one might expect of an album titled Niandra Lades and Usually Just a T-shirt, this is twisted, cool stuff." Marina Zogbi of Entertainment Weekly described Frusciante's guitar play as "hauntingly lovely," and said: "There's a fine line between brilliant and unlistenable, and Frusciante squarely straddles it here." The Boston Herald noted that while the album was "a stark display of Frusciante's acoustic guitar virtuosity" and "eerily beautiful", the singing was "terrible; his high notes will drive the neighborhood dogs into a frenzy".David Wild of Rolling Stone wrote: "All in all, [the album is] a mess
Retrospective appraisal is generally more positive. In a 2003 review by Rolling Stone, critic Christian Hoard wrote: "[the album] sounds like a string of four-track demos. The first part of the album is slightly more tuneful than the more ambient, experimental second section [...] Mostly what you get are Frusciante's acoustic-guitar scratchings and stream-of-conscious ramblings."Steve Huey of AllMusic, who rated the album four out of five stars, said that "[the album was] an intriguing and unexpected departure from Frusciante's work with the Chili Peppers [and that] the sparse arrangements of the first half help set the stage for the gossamer guitar work later on." He went on to say that Usually Just a T-Shirt (the latter half of the album) contained "pleasant psychedelic instrumentals with plenty of backward-guitar effects". Ned Raggett, also of AllMusic, noted that "there's nothing quite so stunning as [Frusciante's] magnificent remake of Bad Brains' 'The Big Takeover'." Adam Williams of PopMatters said the album "fall[s] somewhere between madness and brilliance". He went on to compare Frusciante to Syd Barrett, and felt it was a "hint at a deeply cerebral artist looking within for inspiration and creativity".
Frusciante's drug addiction worsened as the years progressed. An article published by the Phoenix New Times described him as "a skeleton covered in thin skin".He participated in an interview with Dutch public broadcast station VPRO, the first media appearance he made since leaving the Red Hot Chili Peppers. In the interview Frusciante speaks of the positive effects drugs have had on his mind and proudly admits to being a "junkie". He went on to confess addictions to heroin and crack cocaine, but ultimately described himself as being in the best health of his life. Niandra LaDes and Usually Just a T-Shirt sold 15,000 copies by 1996; two years later Frusciante rehabilitated and rejoined the Red Hot Chili Peppers. In 2017, record label Superior Viaduct reissued Niandra LaDes and Usually Just a T-Shirt on vinyl.
All tracks are written by John Frusciante, except "Big Takeover", written by Bad Brains.
Usually Just a T-Shirt
Note: Cassette versions of the album include the additional tracks "Ants" as track seven on side one (Niandra LaDes) and "Untitled #0" as track one on side two (Usually Just a T-Shirt).
Red Hot Chili Peppers are an American rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1983, comprising vocalist Anthony Kiedis, bassist Flea, drummer Chad Smith, and guitarist John Frusciante. Their music incorporates elements of alternative rock, funk, punk rock, hard rock, hip hop, and psychedelic rock. Their eclectic range has influenced genres such as funk metal, rap metal, rap rock, and nu metal. With over 120 million records sold worldwide, Red Hot Chili Peppers are one of the best-selling bands of all time. They hold the records for most number-one singles (14), most cumulative weeks at number one (85) and most top-ten songs (25) on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart. They have won six Grammy Awards, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012, and in 2022 received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
John Anthony Frusciante is an American musician, best known as the guitarist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers across three stints since 1988. He has released 11 solo albums and 7 EPs, ranging in style from acoustic guitar to electronic music.
Blood Sugar Sex Magik is the fifth studio album by American rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers, released September 24, 1991, by Warner Bros. Records. Produced by Rick Rubin, its musical style differed notably from the band's previous album Mother's Milk (1989), reducing the use of heavy metal guitar riffs and accentuating the melodic songwriting contributions of guitarist John Frusciante. The album's subject matter incorporates sexual innuendos and references to drugs and death, as well as themes of lust and exuberance.
Smile from the Streets You Hold is the second studio album by American musician John Frusciante. It was released on August 26, 1997, on Birdman Records, while Frusciante was addicted to drugs and was no longer performing with Red Hot Chili Peppers. The record is an amalgamation of songs from various periods of time, mainly extras not included on Frusciante's debut Niandra Lades and Usually Just a T-Shirt (1994); included, however, are several tracks recorded in 1993, 1994, 1996 and "A Fall Thru the Ground" from 1988.
Anthony Kiedis is an American singer and songwriter. He is a founding member and lead vocalist of the rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers. Kiedis and his fellow band members were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012.
Hillel Slovak was an Israeli-American musician best known as the founding guitarist of the Los Angeles rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers, with whom he recorded two albums. His guitar work was rooted in funk and hard rock, and he often experimented with other genres, including reggae and speed metal. He is considered to have been a major influence on the Red Hot Chili Peppers' early sound.
One Hot Minute is the sixth studio album by American rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers, released on September 12, 1995 by Warner Bros. Records. The worldwide success of the band's previous album Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991) caused guitarist John Frusciante to become uncomfortable with their popularity, eventually quitting mid-tour in 1992. Following a series of short-term replacements, the band hired guitarist Dave Navarro in 1993; it was his only studio album with the band. Recording for the album took place at the Sound Factory in Hollywood from June 1994 to February 1995. It marked the second collaboration between the band and producer Rick Rubin.
Mother's Milk is the fourth studio and video album by American rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers, released August 16, 1989, by EMI Records. After the death of founding guitarist Hillel Slovak and the subsequent departure of drummer Jack Irons, vocalist Anthony Kiedis and bassist Flea regrouped with the addition of guitarist John Frusciante and drummer Chad Smith. Frusciante's influence altered the band's sound by placing more emphasis on melody than rhythm, which had dominated the band's previous material. Returning producer Michael Beinhorn favored heavy metal guitar riffs as well as overdubbing. Frusciante perceived Beinhorn's taste as excessive, and as a result, the two constantly fought over the album's guitar sound.
The Uplift Mofo Party Plan is the third studio album by American rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers, released on September 29, 1987 by EMI Manhattan. Due to prior obligations resulting in temporary personnel changes following the band's formation in 1983, The Uplift Mofo Party Plan is the only studio album to feature all four founding members of the band on every track: vocalist Anthony Kiedis, bassist Flea, guitarist Hillel Slovak and drummer Jack Irons. This is also the last album with Slovak before his death from a drug overdose in 1988, and the only full-length album to feature Irons. "Fight Like a Brave" was released as the album's only single, although "Me and My Friends" received minor radio airplay. In 1992, "Behind the Sun" was released as a single and music video to promote What Hits!?.
By the Way is the eighth studio album by the American rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers, released July 9, 2002, on Warner Bros. Records. It sold more than 286,000 copies in its first week, and peaked at number two on the Billboard 200. Singles included "By the Way", "The Zephyr Song", "Can't Stop", "Dosed", and "Universally Speaking". The lyrical subject matter vocalist Anthony Kiedis addresses in By the Way is a divergence from previous Red Hot Chili Peppers albums, with Kiedis taking a more candid and reflective approach to his lyrics.
"Under the Bridge" is a song by the American rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers and the eleventh track on their fifth studio album, Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991). Vocalist Anthony Kiedis wrote the lyrics while reflecting on loneliness and the struggles of being clean from drugs, and almost didn't share it with the band. Released in March 1992, "Under the Bridge" was praised by critics and fans for its emotional weight. The song was a commercial success and the band's highest-charting single, peaking at number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and certified platinum. It was also a success in other countries, mostly charting in the Top 10.
Californication is the seventh studio album by the American rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers, released on June 8, 1999, on Warner Bros. Records. It was produced by Rick Rubin. Along with Blood Sugar Sex Magik, Californication is one of the band’s best selling albums.
"Give It Away" is a song by American rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers from the group's fifth studio album, Blood Sugar Sex Magik. It was released as the lead single from their album on September 4, 1991, by Warner Bros. Records. The music was written by guitarist John Frusciante and bassist Flea during a jam session months prior to the album recording sessions. Vocalist Anthony Kiedis wrote the song's most prevalent lyrical refrain in response to an experience he shared with former girlfriend Nina Hagen regarding altruistic behavior and the value of selflessness.
"Breaking the Girl" is a song by American rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers from their fifth studio album, Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991). It was released as the fourth single from their studio album in August 1992 and is a melodic ballad that refers to a turbulent relationship between frontman Anthony Kiedis and his former girlfriend, Carmen Hawk.
"Road Trippin'" is a song by American rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers from their seventh studio album, Californication (1999). It was released as the album's fifth and final single in December 2000.
The discography of John Frusciante, who is best known as the guitarist of the rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers, consists of eleven solo albums, two internet only release albums, seven EPs, as well as two albums with collaborators Joe Lally and Josh Klinghoffer under the name Ataxia and two EPs and three studio albums under the alias of Trickfinger. After recording Mother's Milk and Blood Sugar Sex Magik, Frusciante left the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1992 when he got tired of the growing success of the band. He released his first solo album, Niandra LaDes and Usually Just a T-Shirt, in 1994 on American Recordings. His second record, Smile From the Streets You Hold, was released in 1997 and later taken off the market at his request in 1999. After returning to the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1998, Frusciante recorded Californication with the band and subsequently released his third solo album, To Record Only Water for Ten Days, in February 2001 on Warner Music Group.
Stuff is a 12-minute documentary about the house of Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante. It was made in 1993 by Johnny Depp and Gibby Haynes, the lead singer of the Butthole Surfers. Dr. Timothy Leary is also present in the video. The film's main purpose was to depict the chaos and instability of Frusciante's life.
The Californication Tour was a worldwide concert tour by Red Hot Chili Peppers to support their seventh studio album Californication which saw the return of guitarist John Frusciante who rejoined the band in 1998 after quitting six years earlier.
Michael Peter Balzary, known professionally as Flea, is an Australian-American musician and actor. He is a founding member and bassist of the rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers.