Metalkrant caught up with John 5 while he was on the recent Rob Zombie/Megadeth tour. Read the interview below.
Interview with John 5: Written by Jessica Santiago Lopez
John 5 is without a doubt one of the most inspiring guitarist out there in the rock- and metalscene. Many might know him from his days with Marilyn Manson, but currently he’s been in the band and touring around the world for a while with the one and only Rob Zombie. John 5 also manages to work on his solo career and he’s just released his new, instrumental record ‘God Told Me To’. I got the chance to ask John 5 a few questions about ‘God Told Me To’ , touring, writing music for a movie and more. Check it out!
Q: First of all I would like to thank you for taking the time to do this interview. Really appreciate it! How are you doing?
John 5: I’m doing fine. I’m on tour with Rob Zombie in Omaha, Nebraska and it’s beautiful weather out right now.
Q: Your schedule always seems so busy and you’re always working with all these big names as well. How is it for you to finally create your own material again and release it?
John 5: It is very rewarding because I did work really hard on all the songs, the production and the DVD as well. It’s very rewarding for it to be available to the public.
Q: So about ‘God Told Me To’. It’s your sixth album, but the first one with a lot of acoustic stuff on it as well. Why did you go acoustic this time? Did it ask for another approach?
John 5: I wanted this one to be different from everything else I’ve done in the past. It’s important to me to keep the fans and the audience on their toes, so they don’t know what to expect from my releases. I worked really hard on the acoustic side to make sure the melodies were really great and the production was perfect. I wanted to change it up a little bit this time and I think I’ve come up with a CD that sounds pretty different from my others.
Q: What was the creating process of this album like for you?
John 5: I wanted to try to create something different for this album, so I’m not reproducing the same thing over and over again. I tried different styles and production techniques and a DVD. It’s a completely different kind of CD than I’ve ever done.
Q: This release also comes with a DVD, as you mentioned. What can people expect to see on it?
John 5: I recorded myself in the studio recording the songs on the album. It also shows the day in the life on tour. There is a mad scientist that is on the DVD that is part of the plot to destroy me. You will have to watch it to find out what happens!
Q: Most people are used to you playing and making heavy music, but on ‘God Told Me To’ we can actually find various stuff like for example ‘Noche Acosador’ which is flamenco and totally different. How did you come up with doing something like this and where did the inspiration come from?
John 5: I like to surf around on YouTube for inspiration. It’s amazing what you can find there. I have always had a fondness for Spanish style guitar because it is so different from heavy rock or country guitar. So I started studying the style. It’s a lot of fun to work on a new style such as flamenco music. I will continue to do it throughout the years.
Q: I must say I’m really impressed with ‘Noche Acosador’. I’m very familiar with the flamenco genre and in my opinion it’s quite a difficult genre because the real flamenco feeling, the emotion, plays a big part in the music. Not to mention the whole way of playing guitar. But you’ve delivered such an awesome piece of music. How did you achieve this?
John 5: I studied the style a lot before I attempted to write a song. I’ve been playing like this for a long time but I never had anyone listen to it. I feel competent enough now to let people hear it and I’m very proud of how it came for sure. It seems to be the most popular track on the album and I’m glad my fans are embracing it.
Q: As I said, the album is so diverse. What sort of new things did you challenge yourself to learn for this record?
John 5: I was very intrigued by the Spanish style guitar player and the finger style. I started studying it years ago and I’m just putting on one song for this CD and hopefully more in the future..
Q: Another two tracks that also caught my attention are ‘Ashland Bump’ and ‘The Lust Killer’, which sounds so epic. Can you tell us more about these two tracks and their creation?
John 5: About those tracks, it’s really about the melody. They came together quickly. Most good songs that I’ve worked on have come together fairly quickly. Once you get an idea for the song you lay it down so you don’t forget it but then add all the fancy stuff later. I wrote those songs pretty fast.
Q: There is also a cover of ‘Beat it’ on the album. I was wondering why ‘Beat it’?
John 5: I wanted to put a little bit of everything on this CD, so you wouldn’t get bored listening to the same thing over and over again. “Beat It” was a huge part of my life growing up. It was a tribute to Michael Jackson and Eddie Van Halen.
Q: You’ve been working on the score for Lords Of Salem. Can you tell us how that’s been going and what the main challenge has been in writing a complete score for a movie?
John 5: It was a challenge. This is my first full complete movie score that I’ve worked on. It was something completely different than what I’m used to which is writing a song with a verse and a chorus. Sometimes it didn’t make any musical sense at all, but that’s what I really enjoyed about it.
Q: I’ve heard you talking about people that you looked up to and, I mean, the love that you have for music is always so clear. And there are so many people that look at you as their guitar hero. What is that like for you?
John 5: It is pretty hard to believe, because I’ve had so many guitar heroes myself. It is an honor. Hopefully I will never let my fans down and I will still be making good music for them in the future to keep them inspired to be doing what I am doing. Maybe one day I will go see them play live!
Q: You’ve been in this industry for so long and you’re an inspiration to so many. What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned over the years in this industry?
John 5: Keep an eye on your money. Be very careful of what you are doing. It seems like everyone is always out to get you. So I’ve just learned to be very careful business wise, if I wasn’t I would have been out of the business a long time ago.
Q: So what’s next for you this year? I’ve heard you’ve worked on some new Lynyrd Skynyrd stuff, did an appearance on Steven Adler’s new album and also worked with Rod Stewart. Again it’s inspiring to see how much you do. Are there any new projects fans can look forward to?
John 5: After the tour in May we start to record a new Rob Zombie album in June. Then later in 2012 we are going to tour. I’m hearing rumors of going overseas later this year.
Q: All of your solo albums have been instrumental. Do you have any plans to maybe like add guest vocals in the future? And if so, who would you like to do vocals on your tracks?
John 5: No. I’m already in a band and I have an amazing vocalist and his name is Rob Zombie.
Q: Last year you toured with Rob Zombie over here in Europe and it was so awesome to see you guys perform and seeing the energy you have live. Any ideas if you’re coming back soon? And what are the chances of fans over here in Europe seeing/hearing your solo work live?
John 5: There are rumblings that we might be there at the end of 2012. But we will see what will happen. As far as me playing in Europe instrumentally, fortunately I’ve been very blessed with being busy here, but in the future I hope to play some instrumental music live.
Q: Again, I would like to thank you for this interview. Do you have any message for the readers of our magazine?
John 5: Thank you for all of your support and hope to see you in late 2012!