The Darkness Frontman Calls John Frusciante ’Overrated,’ Claims No Real Rock Guitar Player Uses PRS Silver Sky

Recently, The Darkness frontman Justin Hawkins released another episode of his podcast Justin Hawkins Rides Again, featuring musician Pat Finnerty. What caught the attention of most people, however, wasn’t what Pat had to say but rather Justin himself. During this lengthy episode, Justin touched upon Red Hot Chili Peppers and his general opinion of the band and guitar player John Frusciante.

As Justin explains, he doesn’t get why the band’s fans are so “sensitive” to some criticism aimed at them. He said (transcript via Guitar World):

“Why are the Red Hot Chili Peppers fans so sensitive? The videos that we do on them receive a lot of ‘critique’ from RHCP fans.

RHCP John Frusciante INSANE JAM!

“My issue with Red Hot Chili Peppers is that I get nothing from John Frusciante’s guitar playing. I feel like if we can call Mark Knopfler an underrated player, I would describe John Frusciante as an overrated player. In fact, I have done that, more than once.

Of course, the expected response to that would be to call him jealous of RHCP’s success. But as Justin added, that’s not a particularly effective argument. He said:

“It’s always like, ‘You’re jealous because he sold more records than you have.’ And it’s like, well, Mark Knopfler has sold a lot more, more, more records than me, and I’m not jealous of him. I love his guitar playing. So that argument doesn’t really hold any water.”

After Finnerty more or less agreed to what Justin had to say, The Darkness singer then continued:

“He doesn’t give me any of the… [plays a single note vibrato. He goes like this… [plays a single note without vibrato].

“Somebody said to me it’s deliberately minimalist. Maybe it’s like that thing where you become a super-accomplished painter and start doing some naive child-like daubings, and that’s your phase. I think that might have been one of the things he was exploring, but it doesn’t stop it from being shit.”

John Frusciante 2023 - 60 minutes

On the other hand, Justin was fond of Frusciante’s choice of guitars. But while mentioning John’s use of Fender Stratocasters, he reflected on guitar players who use PRS Guitars. While no exact name was mentioned, it was a bit too obvious that Justin was talking about John Mayer and his signature model Silver Sky. He said:

“I’m not a fan of a very, very popular guitar player who has his own [PRS model], which I think is a guitar that no rock ‘n’ roller should ever play.

“You and I probably would recognize some Knopfler influence in a lot of the choices they make, but they do so on a PR… on a particular type of guitar which I personally don’t think any good rock ‘n’ roll has ever been played on, because no rock ‘n’ roller would ever play that guitar.”

The SE Silver Sky | John Mayer Model | PRS Guitars

For quite a while now, Justin Hawkins has been sharing his hot takes and making what many consider to be controversial statements. Another one that he had earlier this year was about Australian guitar virtuoso Plini. Looking into one of Plini’s videos, Hawkins said that he’d rather prefer a low-hanging guitar on a strap, just like what Slash does, explaining:

“The one thing that turns me off about this particular type of prog is how static the playing is. I’m talking about choreography, really. You have to have your guitar pretty high to get the spread you need to play these riffs.”

“You don’t get those low-slung Slash types, you always get this [high-strapped guitars]. I don’t think it’s as exciting to watch, and I don’t think I’m going to be the only person who feels that.”

Plini - Electric Sunrise, I'll Tell You Someday, Cascade | Live at Finnvox Studios

“When you have a guitar that’s static in that position and players are [playing up high], the one advantage is, if you’re in the front row, you can do the fret watching. This stuff sounds amazing, but it doesn’t look that exciting to me.”

Reflecting on being an “old rocker,” Hawkins added:

“For old rockers like me, there’s an absence of attitudinal edginess. The stuff that excites me is things like mistakes… I like people to operate at the very edge of their ability. Give [Plini] a Les Paul, low-slung, and it will be much more exciting.”

Plini - Electric Sunrise (Audio)

But as far as technical skills go, not even Justin could deny Plini’s pro-tier chops:

“His technique is unbelievable. It sounds so, so good.”

He also added:

“Sometimes you hear people who like doing that fast stuff and they disguise it with wah because it smudges the bits they haven’t quite fretted in a nice way, and there’s nothing like that going on here. It’s pretty straight-up saturated guitar sounds played really well.“

“There’s a really nice taste in his vibrato technique. He’s a great guitar player.”

Plini – Impulse Voices (Playthrough)

“It’s amazing playing, it really is. I think that kind of prog metal and all that stuff is a little bit of an acquired taste, but what you can’t deny is the musicianship – it’s really staggering right across the board.”

“But you know what? There’s no reason why they can’t wear a flashier shirt… anything, just something to spice up the visuals. But it’s great stuff.”

Photos: Raph_PH (TaylorHawkTributeWemb030922 (51 of 281) (52334726394), Hel Davies (John Frusciante (52279466415))

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor and brands like Sam Ash.

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