Great interview from Brightest Young Things with John 5 and his Zombie bandmate Piggy D on the eve of the New York City show.
HAUNTING MEMORIES: JOHN5 AND PIGGY D
Piggy D. plays bass for Rob Zombie, as well as having his own great solo project and work with the band Black Foxx. He’s also a graphic designer and artist, having designed the cover for a Lita Ford album, among others. His debut solo album, The Evacuation Plan, is worth checking out, and songs like “Locust Dance” and “God Save the Queen Bee” are killer. You’ll be able to hear and see his bass playing prowess on his current tour with Rob Zombie.
John Lowery was given the nickname John 5 the day he joined Marilyn Manson’s band. A versatile session guitarist known for his speed as well as his keen goth fashion sense (imagine Brandon Lee in The Crow), after moving to L.A. at 18 he scored high-profile gigs touring with Lita Ford and k.d. lang based on his work scoring soundtracks and commercials with producer Bob Marlette. Studio work continued, as he contributed to ex-Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford’s industrial metal group Two and ex-Van Halen singer/showboat David Lee Roth’s The DLR Band album. Initially rejected in his first audition to play guitar with Manson, John was asked to join Manson on the Rock Is Dead tour, following guitarist Zim Zum’s departure. Along with touring with Manson, John 5 also has a slew of solo albums.
We caught up with them in New York City to talk about the paranormal, scary movies, Ouija boards, cannibalism, and other such light hearted topics
Jeff Jetton: What do you guys find frightening.
Piggy D: The drive from the hotel to here today was frightening. I think we went 5 blocks and it took like an hour and 45 minutes.
John5: When you were kids, what scared you?
P: Reptiles. I don’t like reptiles.
J5: I don’t think anything like that really scared me as a kid. When I was a kid my mom would take me – I think my mom wanted me out of the house, so I got to see every movie when it came out, like The Shining and Amnityville Horror, so she took me to all those movies. I wasn’t really scared of anything like that. I think I just hated flying, that terrified me.
J: How’d you get over that? Flying and snakes, you guys should not go see Snakes on a Plane together. So you were allowed to see scary movies from a young age?
J5: Oh yeah.
J: Do you think that affected your nature?
J5: Absolutely. I was so obsessed with our classic monsters today – you know Frankenstein, Wolfman, mummy, invisible man, creature from the black lagoon, Dracula. I was so obsessed with all that stuff. I would carry around my monster magazines with my guitar. I just loved it so much. It’s just comforting, I just love it.
J: So they are like rom-coms for you.
J5: Yeah, I love them.
J: So do you like the direction that horror films have moved toward, more torture porn and gore and things like that? What do you think of that?
P: No, we just went and saw a movie the other day that Joe won’t even mention. They don’t have any atmosphere, they don’t have any vibe, they don’t have any cool monsters or characters you can relate to.
J: Except for ones directed by Rob Zombie?
P: But Rob comes from an old school approach, not only with storytelling but actual movie monsters and stuff like that. He creates characters that stick in your head. Today, it’s just like ‘lets see how many loud noises and fake scares we can cram in, found footage movies…”
J5: I love a great story, and I think…[here comes the music] Now as I tell the story – The Shining, Amnityville Horror, things like that. It’s incredible. Carrie, and all those…you know, something with a great story.
J: Have you ever fucked with a ouija board?
J: Would you?
J5: No. Piggy D., would you?
P: Yeah, whole bunch of nothing happened.
J: The question I guess I’m trying to get at is, do you believe in paranormal activity, for lack of a better word?
P: I hope so, I really do. I hope there’s something else. I think it’d be great. And if there is something else there’s a good and there’s a bad.
J: Have you ever had any experiences?
J5: Just this year I had someone standing in my doorway of my bedroom. I was sleeping and I woke up and I looked and there was someone in the doorway. And I went like this, I shook my eyes, and I said ‘okay that person will be gone’. Shook my eyes, still there. And I was like ‘babe, look” and she was like ‘what?’ Still there.
J: Definitely not a human being.
J5: It was a woman, and she had her hair in a bun. Clear as day.
J: In your house.
J5: In my house, standing against the doorway.
J: And what did you significant other say? She saw it?
J5: No she did not see it. She woke up and it was gone.
J: You’re positive it was there?
J5: I was like ‘look, it’s right there, but you were asleep.”
J: So were you scared?
J5: I was more excited, cause I hope there’s something else.
J: Other than an intruder in your house.
J5: (laughs) Piggy, what about you?
P: I had one thing happen, I can’t really explain it. I don’t know what it was. Kind of the same scenario where I saw somebody there. But my wife is so into this stuff, she watches all the Ghosthunters, and all that stuff. She keeps me up to date on what the haps are in the paranormal world. But I’m pretty skeptical. She’s convinced that it’s for real. And she says that if she dies before me she’s gonna come back and just fuck everything up.
J: So we were talking with the guys from the band Black Dice the other day, and they said that in traveling across the country a lot of venues were haunted. Have you ever heard that?
J5: We were in one yesterday. We were in Rochester, NY at the Armory. And it’s been on Ghosthunters, and it was built in 1905, and that’s where the army trained and they had a morgue there. A lot of people probably died there throughout their time of 100 years or so.
J: Death by metal.
J5: Yeah death by metal, death by armory. We were there last night.
J: But the set went alright?
J5: No, it was an awful set.
J: That’s what they said, that anytime they play a haunted venue they have an awful set.
P: Maybe that’s what it was, literally a ghost in the machine.
J5: I love it, because I walked around every dark corner, and it was huge, so walking around this whole dark scary place. And I loved it.
P: We have iPhone apps, and we were using a ghost radar walking around the rooms last night. If something shows up it has a little blip on the screen, and you can follow it.
J: Do you know the name of it?
P: Ghost radar.com
J: Would you ever eat human flesh?
J5: I’m a vegetarian, so I think if worst comes to worst yeah. If I was in a bad situation – like right now if we didn’t have catering and I was hungry I’d probably take a bite out of your leg.
J: I wonder if they’ll ever make simulated human flesh using weak gluten or something like that.
J5: Tofu human flesh. Tofuman flesh.
J: You would eat that?
J5: Oh yeah, absolutely.
J: Would you eat human flesh?
P: Depends on how attractive they were before they became lunchmeat.
J: So it would depend on the sex and the aesthetics of the person.
P: Yeah, if it was somebody disgusting, I’d be like ‘no.’ But if it was Megan Fox lunchmeat then…
J: Zombies, are you a fan of the genre?
J5: Of course we have Night of the Living Dead and things like that, but to tell you the truth, i’m not really – like I mentioned before, I love my classic monster guys, but the mummy, I guess he’s a zombie, is a mummy a zombie? I love the mummy. Frankenstein may be a mummy because he’s kind of made out of…I love him. Dracula’s dead…
J: Do you know who R.L. Stine is, he writes Goosebumps? He says he hates zombies because there’s not a lot you can do with them. They only want to eat brains, and you can only kill them by bashing their heads in.
J5: They’re kind of like flies, they’re just kind of annoying.
J: I guess if they really moved fast and shit like that, but okay, I gotcha. Did you guys dress up as kids for Halloween?
J5: Oh shit I still do. I love Halloween because you don’t have to buy anything for anyone or any of that shit. I love Halloween and I start celebrating October 1st and I end on Halloween night. And this is the truth. I love it and I dress up and I rent a kid and i’ll take him out and stuff like that. I love it, for real, I love it.
J: What was your best costume as a kid?
J5: I’ll tell ya, it’s a great question. My mom, who is the greatest, she dressed me up, cause this was the ’70s and I was probably 5 years old, so I didn’t know what to dress up as – you know you go to the store and get some crappy Frankenstein outfit. So my mom was like ‘alright, let me dress you.’ So she dressed me up as a high-priced prostitute. And I’m serious. Like a fur, lots of makeup, big boobs. And i’m five, a kid, a boy. High heels. And we had a costume contest at school, so what she did is dress me up as this high priced hooker, and she put in these big boobs and this butt and put a nylon over her head. It was frightening and I won first prize.
J: You won first prize as a hooker. Did you have to do anything to win the prize?
J5: No. I just walked up on stage, and I remember all the adults were clapping so loud, I didn’t understand.
J: So when you have kids, would you do something similar?
J5: Yeah, oh absolutely. I love it. What about you, Piggy D?
P: I can’t even come close to that. And it’s a true story. I was always some kind of a monster or something. I think I was Batman and Darth Vader one year. One year I got a wild hair that I wanted to be Garfield, but there wasn’t a Garfield costume. So my dad got a bunch of orange trash bags and a can of black spray paint, but the paint didn’t dry before I put it on because I kinda did it in a hurry, and he was like ‘I got it,’ shaking the can of spray. And so I put it on, but the spray paint made the bags stick together. The worst Garfield costume ever.
J: That’s fucking funny. So are you guys dressing up this year?
J5: Well we’re doing shows, so we dress up every night. I’ll probably dress up with something before the show and walk around the crowd.
J: High priced hooker. That would be great.
J5: Back to that hooker thing, and i’m not kidding. I lived in a really nice area, like Beverly Hills but nicer. And it would be cold and so the people would invite you in for doughnuts and to heat up and stuff. So this guy invited us in and he takes pictures of me in this hooker outfit and mailed them to the house. So I have these old ’70s Polaroids of me posing, and those are the pictures I still have today.
J: Can you send a copy of those to me for this interview? So speaking of scares, have you ever had a pregnancy scare?
J5: I have… (reflects, pensively)
J: How was that? Was it scary, like frightening? Scarier than flying?
J5: Yeah. Piggy D.?
P: I think so, yeah. Probably. You just gotta know who to call in a situation like that.
J: Do you guys like cats?
J5: I love cats.
J5: I’m pretty superstitious. I guess I am.
P: Yeah, I have this weird thing. You know that they say if you find a penny pick it up and you’ll have good luck? I’m always picking up pennies. In fact, I just found one in my pocket from last night I picked up. I like to keep my hands pretty clean, but I will pick a penny up in the worst possible scenario.
J: Did you choose that cat?
J5: My wife did.
J: But you love it, and your kids love it?
J: Are you guys voting? Did you watch the debates last night?
J5: Yeah, I’m gonna vote for Obama. I think he’s great.
J: Romney, not a fan?
J5: I think Obama is the way to go. Piggy D, what do you think?
P: Romney scares me, so I’m gonna stick with Obama.
J: Who’s more frightening without makeup, Marilyn Manson or Lady Gaga?
J5: That’s a tough one. I’m gonna say Lady Gaga. I’m not gonna get it on with Marilyn Manson, but if you see Lady Gaga and you wake up in the morning and you’re like “nyah nyah…”
P: I think we’re so used to seeing Lady Gaga with makeup. She might not look bad without it, but it would be shocking.
J: Fair enough, you see Marilyn Manson without makeup quite a bit?
J5: Yeah everyday.