John 5 sat down with Ultimateguitar.com and spoke to them about the forthcoming new album God Told Me To and his special affinity with his fans and why he doesn’t like to let them down.
On the Art Of Malice, John 5’s solo record back in 2010, the Rob Zombie guitarist paraded out the meanest country licks you’ve ever heard and jacked them up with overdriven guitar and a mean attitude. On God Told Me To, he pulled out his nylon and steel string guitars to create an album swimming in acoustic instruments and covering styles ranging from Flamenco to fingerpicking. But he didn’t want to forget the metalheads in his audience so there are also some blinding electric guitar tracks stamped with John 5’s signature Telecaster.
Produced by Chris Baseford (Rob Zombie) and Bob Marlette (Black Sabbath), the CD is accompanied by a DVD that takes a look into the creation of the album. There is footage of John working in the studio and a remarkable glimpse at the photo shoot for the Remixploitation album. The 10 instrumentals on God Told Me To showcase the platinum-haired shredder ripping it up on electric and acoustic originals as well as a six-string orchestrated version of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.”
UG: When we talked about the Art of Malice album you said, “I did try to create this unique voice by adding country style playing into hard rock.” What elements did you bring to God Told Me to give this album an identity?
John 5: People have heard me do the country thing and all that stuff so what I wanted to do was always keep the listener on your toes so you never know what you’re gonna get type of thing. I said, “OK, I want to do something completely different and of course I don’t want to disappoint. I want to have the heavy rock guys happy and I want to have this, that and the other thing happy.” What I did was I said, “Alright, I’m gonna do acoustic a type of thing but really interesting acoustic work.” Some Spanish style and knocking on the body of the guitar and making the rhythms on the guitar. Just keep it very fresh; use violin bows and mandolins and all sorts of stuff like that. I think it came out really well.
You talk about keeping your listeners on their toes but is it possible to go too far in a direction where they might get turned off to you playing acoustic guitar for example?
My fans are smart and educated and they know what they want. I don’t think I could ever go too far as long as it’s a good product. As long as it’s good people will understand and I don’t think they’re so one-dimensional. I never worried about that.
The album opens with a pretty frantic track titled “Welcome to Violence.” Your guitar playing is so interesting because you manage to convey this sense of mayhem and insanity through the riffs and these little bursts of staccato picking.
I just wanted to create something that was so frantic and just that uneasy feeling. It feels like it’s gonna fall apart at any time. There’s a little video that goes along with it and it’s frantic so that’s how I start out the record with that kind of thing.
In the video you smash up some guitars—where did your guitar demolishing chops come from?
Actually it was a Pete Townshend thing because I was on tour with Rob and we were watching a lot of Who videos and I just thought, “Wow, that looks fuckin’ rad.” It just looks cool especially the way he did it. And I took the way Pete would smash ‘em. What he would do is he would bounce ‘em off the stage and I just thought it looked so cool when he did that. Of course we’ve seen it but it was such a pure aggression and it’s a sacrifice. I really liked how that appears and I’ll do it for some big shows.
Read the rest of the interview here: ultimate-guitar.com/john_5_my_fans_are_smart_and_they_know_what_they_want