John 5: ‘More is More’

The Phoenix New Times Blogs caught up with John a couple of days ago. Enjoy the interview.

The Twins of Evil tour is just two days away and John 5 has been busy rehearsing for the show as well as working with Rob Zombie on a new studio album and the new soundtrack for The Lords of Salem – and thats without mentioning the fact that John 5 put out a new solo album earlier this year and has completed work with Rod Stewart and Lynyrd Skynyrd, to name just a few.  The Phoenix New Times Blogs caught up with John a couple of days ago.  Enjoy the interview.

Rob Zombie’s Guitarist John 5 Has a Motto: “More is More” By Lauren Wise

“I love Phoenix,” Rob Zombie guitarist John 5 says excitedly. “Rob [Zombie] and the other guys in the band, they like the colder weather, but for some reason I love the really hot weather.”

He pauses, then anxiously asks, “It should be really warm there still when I’m there in September, right?”

“Yeah, it doesn’t really start cooling down until mid-or late October, honestly,” I offer. “You should be good.”

John 5’s used to heat. He’s worked with pyrotechnics-heavy acts like Marilyn Manson, Lynyrd Skynrd, Slash, and more his entire career. He’s created music for shows likeBaywatch and worked on tracks for pop-stars like Avril Lavinge and FeFe Dobson, but since 2005 he’s been spending most of his time in Rob Zombie’s band, alongside drummer Ginger Fish and bassist Piggy.

Few guitarists shine as brightly as a band’s frontman, but John Lowery, better known as John 5, sure as hell comes close. His virtuosic work on records like Educated Horses and his string of solo records, including the recent God Told Me To show off a guitarist with real skill. Think some of the meanest country licks you’ve ever heard, Flamenco fingerpicking, and blinding electric distortion. That’s not even to mention his recent foray into film-scoring, the soundtrack to his boss’s new flick, Lords of Salem.

John 5: It’s gonna’ be a great show. First show of the tour! So we’re all really excited about it.

Up On The Sun: I know, everyone out here is as well. Everyone gets all energetic and pumped up for the first show. I went to Rock on the Range back in May, and you guys also put on a hell of a performance. Rob mentioned that you guys are mixing up the stage set up this tour, adding new graphics, props, and more. What can you tell fans about Desert Uprising? For you, what will be different?

Well, it’s definitely gonna be different. There’s something that’s gonna’ happen that I haven’t seen yet. I’ve only heard about it. I’m really excited to see it. I hope I’m paying attention to the crowd and not to the stage because I want to see it happen. It’s going to be great…I don’t wanna give too much away, but you’re definitely going to get your money’s worth coming to see this show. And I understand there’s two days, Friday and Saturday?

That’s correct.

And you can buy tickets to either day or just one, right? How is our day doing I wonder?

I’m guessing Friday will sell out faster than second day. I heard the pit tickets for your day sold out in less than ten minutes.

It’s incredible! What a lineup that’s gonna be! Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson, Stone Sour, Buckcherry…Ridiculous! If I wasn’t in one of the band’s I’d be going to it. [Laughs].

For you, what’s the major difference between working with Manson and Zombie?

Well, with working with Rob–and I’m not just saying this because I’m in the band–it’s been the best working relationship I’ve ever been in. So professional and you know, everything he says we’re gonna do we always do. It’s like being in a band with your best friend but also you’re in this huge band. I’m just not taking this for granted because it’s such a great time in my life. Just imagine getting up on stage with all your great friends playing this awesome music in a big stage show and people screaming your name and throwing bras at you and stuff. It’s a dream. It’s incredible.

And with Marilyn Manson, it was you know, more of like, ‘What’s going to happen today? Are we going to do a show?’ I loved my time in Marilyn Manson but it was more of a war zone up there and crazy. But I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.

Rob is really excited about the new album he’s been working on, as well as the new film. What’s one thing you can tell fans about your work on each of those projects?

Well with the film, I’ve done film scores before. I used to do guitar work for Baywatch, and a couple other movies I did the music on–From Hell with Johnny Depp, for one. But I’ve never done the whole movie, so this is my first time scoring the whole movie. And it was great challenge. I wanted to do the absolute best that I could do and I’m very proud of the outcome. The movie is unbelievable. It’s definitely going to mess with people’s heads. It’s a great movie and now seeing the final [cut], it’s unbelievable and I’m so excited for people to see and hear the movie. It’s really something else.

With the album…Oh, my God. It’s so aggressive and it’s so alive. The most important thing is the songs, and the songs are really amazing. Rob has some fantastic vocal work and I think people are going to really enjoy. Now, for me, being a fan of White Zombie before I was in Rob Zombie or anything, I’m hearing a lot of White Zombie in this album because of the raw, live, aggressive vibe of this album. And I think people are going to dig it.

Can’t wait to hear it! You know, it seems that nowadays in the industry there’s nothing anyone can do anymore to be shocking, just confusing. What are your thoughts that bands nowadays are too scared to go outside the box?

That is an excellent great question. Here’s what I think: it’s not about the shock value. I think people nowadays…there’s so much going on now with the Internet. It’s hard to get people to leave the house okay? They have everything at the tips of their fingers and can do anything they want from home basically. So what I think is that people don’t ‘want to spend a lot of money to see a concert. So with a Rob Zombie show, you get your money’s worth because you get one hell of a show. You’re not gonna’ get a bunch of guys just phoning it in, you’re getting a big production. And it’s called entertainment for a reason. That’s what we do. Same thing with Marilyn Manson. Even for me, I’ll watch things back on YouTube and say, ‘Oh my God! Look at that stage! It’s completely over the top and crazy!’ [laughs]. People want to be entertaine, and that’s what we want to do.

Speaking of constantly entertaining, you’ve been doing solo albums on top of all your other projects for almost 10 years. Looking back, what’s something you know now that you wish you knew when you did your first couple solo albums?

I think there is an evolution definitely from my first record Vertigo to now my latest one,God Told Me To. Yeah, I would’ve done things different. I was always taught. [People say] less is more, less is more. No, no, no, no –more is more. Less is not more. More is more. So I would’ve put more into my first instrumental record like I have been doing now. That’s my new motto is “more is more” [laughs]. That’s how I always think about that.

I like that. On God Told Me To, I love the cover of “Beat It,” as well as “Noche Ecosador” and “Killafornia.” Do you sometimes slide down the end of style spectrums just to see if you can?

I’ve always been such a fan of music in general. We already have the great Eddie Van Halen, and the great Steve Vaughn, so what I wanna’ do is something completely that no one else is doing to really make myself noticed. You know, if you’re standing in a room and everybody has a hat on you’re going to look at the guy without a hat on it’s just that way. And that’s how I always wanted to be and it’s worked you know? And something so simple like that –well it may not be easy to do with the different style– but I think people appreciate that and that’s why the albums keep selling. It’s really weird to tell you the truth. God Told Me To is selling so well. And I’m very surprised and happy about that because I think it’s real. There’s no BS about it. It’s just real. Just doing it for the love of music and the guitar. And I think people gravitate towards that.

Is there a track off God Told Me To that you’re most proud of?

Yes, I think “Welcome to Violence” and “Noche Ecosador” because they just come together and I felt they worked well. I mean, I love everything on that record but those two in particular.

Awesome. Going back to Van Halen, I know you’ve stated Van Halen has been an important musical influence on you, but who are some of your other influences when it comes to you being a frequent staple in several more industrial metal bands?

Well I’ve always gone through epiphanies, so you know, it started out early with the Bee Gees, The Eagles, and that went to KISS and Jimi Hendrix and Van Halen and so on and so forth. And of course throughout time, you keep getting influenced. But I was very influenced by the industrial genre. NIN, White Zombie, and Marilyn Manson. Certain things leave a mark with you. All that stuff I just love inspiration. And I always look to be inspired, because you never know what will be a life-changing experience. But it doesn’t come around as often as I’d like it to, so I’m always looking for inspiration.

Are there any current bands on the scene that are currently inspiring you? What’re you listening to?

You know who I like? I can say I appreciate that Nicki Minaj. Just her phrasing and the way she is doing things. I find that pretty interesting.

If someone had never heard your music, and you had to give them one album that represented you and your message, what album would that be?

I would probably have to say…uhh…I don’t know!!! That’s a good one!
Well, that’s gotta be a tough one for you to because of all your projects.

Well, it’s just well-rounded. Boy….can I pick two? Either The Art of Malice or God Told Me To.

Fair enough. I’d say those are two good picks.

Thank God [laughs].