If we could all have as much passion for our jobs as John 5 does for his, the world would be a much better place. This dude, who is currently playing with Rob Zombie, simply loves guitar, loves music of all kinds and it’s obvious to hear when you speak with him. He has played with Marilyn Manson, David Lee Roth, Rob Halford, Lynyrd Skynyrd and the list goes on and on and on. He spoke with Korea Guitar during a break from the Return of the Dreads tour with Zombie.
Welcome to Korea Guitar.
Thanks so much. How are you doing?
Doing great. You’re on break now.
Yeah, I have a ten day break and then I go back with Rob. We go to Detroit, continue on all over the place, then come home for another week and then I go to Europe with The Creatures and then I meet Rob in Germany and we do some shows. So, very busy
How’s the tour been going so far?
Oh, it’s been wonderful. It’s been really, really great, very productive, lots of huge crowds. And, we’re touring with Korn, so it’s been just a blast. We really love those guys. It’s been nothing but fun. Some of the hottest shows we’ve ever played, temperature wise, but some of the biggest attendances as well.
That’s awesome. Let’s talk about the new Rob Zombie album. First off, the name is a mouthful. The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser.
Yeah, Rob just comes up with these crazy titles. I don’t even know the title of the album until it pretty much comes out. It’s a tongue twister.
Can you even remember it, without reading it?
No. No. (laughs)
What can you tell us about the recording of it?
What we did was, we recorded a lot of it at Rob’s house. He has this huge compound and we would record, we would go on tour, we’d come back, we’d record and vice versa. It was a great way to do it, because of the act we could live with the songs. We could see if we liked them or not. It was really a productive way to record.
You know, most of the times you record, you just record and that’s it, the record’s out. You don’t really get to live with the record. So we’re really happy with how it turned out.
You have played with, in my opinion, four of the top lead men in rock history. Rob Halford (2wo), David Lee Roth (DLR Band), Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie. You’ve also written and recorded with pretty much everybody, from Rick Springfield to Lynyrd Skynyrd to Ricky Martin. How do you shift gears so quickly when it comes to the different styles of music you’re writing and performing?
Well, I love music in general, so I study all kinds of music and all types of music…everything under the sun. I really, really enjoy all of that stuff. I try to do my best to study everything. Classical. Country. Western Swing. All that stuff, you know. It’s fun. And when I’m called upon for certain sessions, I feel really confident because I know about these different styles of music.
And also, everybody I’ve written for I’ve been a fan of. I love Skynyrd and of course the KISS guys. I know their catalogs just as well as they do.
You just recorded with Ace Frehley on his Origins album, who was one of your guitar heroes. What’s it like recording with one of your idols?
Well, I’ve known Ace for a thousand years, and I’m very close with him. But still, this was really strange because I got a chance to record Parasite, which is off Hotter Than Hell and the Alive album. It was such a strange thing, because playing the song with Ace and all that stuff, it was just really, really cool. Really an amazing experience. I was loving every minute. You know,I don’t take it for granted, that’s for sure. I was so happy and I was like a little kid again. It was really, really special.
That’s fantastic. I’m guessing your make-up designs are influenced by KISS.
Oh yeah, absolutely influenced by them. You know, I think when I get up on stage, I want to entertain the people. I really want to give them a show, ‘cuz that’s what I liked when I was a kid. I always put myself in the perspective of the crowd.
Right, that’s the most important thing.
Absolutely 100 percent.
Why did you decide to change the make-up every night as opposed to one character like KISS?
Well, I think mine isn’t as signature enough as the Demon, the Starchild, the Spaceman or the Cat or Alice Cooper with his eyes. I don’t think mine is distinct enough like those, so I kind of just change it up every once in a while. I don’t do it to not show my face or anything like that, so I just change it up to keep it fresh for the crowd and for myself.
How did the make-up first become a part of your image?
How it came about, I was doing the Marilyn Manson video for mOBSCENE and nobody ever does our make-up, OK? And we had such a huge budget, they brought in make-up people and I had someone do my make-up and they got something in my eye. In the video, you can see me, which I’m not shown that much in the video, but what you do see, I’m kind of shutting my eye because my eyes were watering so bad and you can see make-up dripping down. I just thought that was kind of a cool idea, so I took a bad situation and turned it into a good one.
(Dear readers, what is your favorite John 5 make-up. Post a picture to Korea Guitar’s Facebook page. Click here)
You’re a huge (Fender) Telecaster fan, I think everyone knows that, but it’s not a typical hard rock guitar. Were you ever worried that it might not work well with your image or did you just not care?
To be honest, I really didn’t care. I never like to follow. I never think like God, everyone’s using a Stratocaster, I gotta use a Stratocaster or a Les Paul or an Ibanez. I always wanted to do everything different. You know, I always wanted to be that guy that did things a little left of center. For an example, when I joined Marilyn Manson, the biggest Goth band at the time, I had bleach blond hair. They all had black hair. And I played a Telecaster because it’s the first solid-body electric guitar. It’s the greatest guitar, in my eyes and I just love it. So, I was just like hey, screw it, I’m gonna play this guitar and that’s how it’s gonna be.
Who were your Telecaster influences growing up?
I loved, let’s see…oh boy, I love…God…there’s so many to…like Albert Lee, I really loved. And I loved Buck Owens and Don Rich, you know, those guys. They were all great pickers. I loved these great pickers. I just thought it was so incredible, what they could do with this guitar and I was so influenced by that. My sister loved the Rolling Stones and I just thought the Telecaster looked so cool and I loved Hee Haw. I would see all these guys just playing Telecasters and I was so young that I thought that was the only electric guitar there was, that was the only shape. And there was no other shape, nothing. I just knew I wanted to play electric guitar and that’s how they looked. And that’s always stuck with me.
Do you play any other guitars?
Not really. It’s just so comfortable, like a good pair of shoes, you know. I just always have played those guitars. I love ‘em.
Do you still practice or do you just write songs?
Oh no, I practice constantly. I was just playing right before you called me. I’m playing all the time. There’s not a time that I’m not playing.
Have there been any new, different discoveries recently with regards to your practicing?
Constantly. I’m making these new videos cuz I’m making a new record. So it’s always something different, something exciting and revolutionary, to myself. I’m having a lot of fun with it.
Very cool. Your new video Hell Haw is a hoot. I love it.
(Laughs) Yeah, there are so many. There’s Making Monsters. I’ve been putting out so many new videos lately. It’s been great.
Geez, you’re always going. Do you ever take a break?
No, I just enjoy what I do. I really enjoy what I do. It’s lots of fun. I just love it. Thank God I do what I do. And, it’s been going so well and I don’t take it for granted. I think it’s good to always keep moving, keep working. I think that’s very important and that’s what I’ve been trying to do.
So, you have a tour with Rob Zombie, then a tour with the Creatures in Europe and then more Zombie dates. Then what? Do you think that far ahead?
I’m doing a very special show in Northern California called Alien Con. It’s like a convention. It’s going to be really big. It’s October 28th. It’s a Halloween special event and The History channel is going to be there. It’s going to be an incredible time. I mean a lot of people are going to be there. I think Mark Hamill, Luke Skywalker, is going to be there. A bunch of cool people and we’re going to have a really great concert. But nothing is booked after that.
When is the new John 5 album coming out?
That’ll come out next year some time. I don’t want to rush it, you know? There’s no need to rush it, so I’m just kind of taking my time and just doing it at the right pace. It’s not like albums are what they used to be back in the day. We need a new record. I think, unfortunately, those days have perished, which is unfortunate. It’s an unfortunate reality of today and the future, how music is looked at. People don’t really need new records anymore but artists are artists and they are songwriters and they’ll always put out new music. Thank God for that because I love when bands put out new music. But it’ll come out next year.
Well, we’re looking forward to it. Thanks so much for this. It was a pleasure speaking with you. I wish you all the best success in the near and distant future.
Thank you very much. Have a great day.
Official Website: http://john-5.com/