Its been a busy year for John 5 already. 2013 has seen the release of Rob Zombie’s The Lords of Salem, which features John 5’s score, and the latest Rob Zombie album which was primarily written by RZ and John 5. He is currently rehearsing with his fellow RZ bandmates for the Mayhem 2013 tour which starts end of June 2013. He talks with Metal Express Radio about Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor, playing with Les Paul, and a little about the next J5 solo album.
To read the interview
John 5 by: DAN ‘SOFT BOY’ SKIBA
Metal Express Radio caught up with guitarist extraordinaire JOHN 5 recently while he was in the throes of rehearsals for the upcoming Rob Zombie tour, supporting the Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor release, which hit the streets at the end of April 2013.
MER: First, congratulations to you, John, for your recent awards … most recently the Revolver Golden God Award for best guitarist! You recently too had the opportunity to play on stage with one of your heroes: Les Paul.
JOHN 5: Thank you very much, you are right, the Golden God Award just recently happened, and a while back I attended an event and Les Paul was there – he was calling various people on stage to play with him, and I first thought “what an honor that would be to get to play with him”, but then I got really scared, because all of the people he brought up on stage knew the songs he wanted to play and knocked them out flawlessly. I thought to myself that if I had the chance to go up on stage I’d have no idea what I was supposed to play, but luckily when it was my turn, I knew the song he picked, and we had a blast together. Afterwards, Les Paul said that not many things impress him anymore; but that he was impressed by me … I took that to be perhaps the best complement I’ve ever received, and I’d have to say that was one of the most memorable nights of my life.
MER: As always, you’ve been incredibly busy, but the latest news item on the docket is your involvement with Rob Zombie’s latest release, Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor. Perhaps to start this discussion, can you shed a little light on what the album title means or is referring to?
JOHN 5: You know, your guess is as good as mine. Even in spending a ton of time with Rob and writing the songs, you can lay bets on what the title of the album may or may not be … and even when it was finally announced, it was almost impossible for anyone associated with the record to know exactly how or why Rob came up with the title he did. So, to tell you the truth, I have no idea why Rob named it what he did!
MER: You are credited with writing all of the music for the album … what is it like to write for a Rob Zombie album?
JOHN 5: Actually, it’s a total blast. I’ve done this before, and now I know Rob so well, he just has to give me a quick comparison to the type of groove or rhythm he is looking for and I can usually give him something that interests him or properly sets the mood. It’s actually not that difficult, and this record in particular really seemed to come together well.
MER: Piggy D is back on bass and Ginger Fish on the drums … you go way back with Ginger – how much does it mean to you to have Ginger in the fold?
JOHN 5: Ginger is totally whacky, but he’s incredibly loyal. A few years ago Ginger fell on a bit of hard times, and when I found out about that, I recommended him to Rob, who brought him into the band, and I think he’s a very solid drummer and I love having him in the band.
MER: Bob Marlette, who has worked with a number of bands, produced this record … what is your experience with Bob, and how did he fit in with Rob Zombie?
JOHN 5: I’ve worked with Bob in many capacities since 1990 and having him produce this album was like working with a brother or a family member. He was a great fit with Rob and for this record, and he was a big reason for everything coming together so well. I thought he did an incredible job.
MER: Not that long ago, Rob Zombie toured outside of the USA for the first time in about a decade … what are the tour plans to support this new album, and will you again go past North American shores?
JOHN 5: Beginning June 29th, we’ll be touring as part of the Mayhem Festival. I completely love touring in the summer as part of festivals … you get to hang out and relax for most of the day and then play to huge crowds. It’s my element, and I’m really excited to be part of Mayhem this year. Later this fall, we’ll have what I believe is a huge announcement regarding more touring – but you’ll have to wait on that since details are being attended to and I can’t speak about it yet. Next year, we plan to again head to Europe … we were amazed at the reception we got in Europe, and we’re all anxious to get back there again.
MER: About a year ago, you were the featured guitarist on VH1 Classic’s That Metal Show. Many people in the Metal Community know of you, but at least at that date, it’s a safe bet to say that not a lot of people were really familiar with everything you are capable of doing on the guitar … when you played your leads going into commercial breaks, it seemed not only the hosts of the Show were amazed, but the viewing audience in general throughout North America was completely blown away by your playing techniques. Did appearing on That Metal Show give an added shot in the arm to your career?
JOHN 5: I don’t know that it changed anything career-wise for me, but it definitely did expose me to a broader-based audience that may be a bit more in tune with Classic Hard Rock and Metal bands that originally came up back in the ‘70s and ‘80s. So from that aspect, it was a great thing for me. I’m actually going to be on another Show this season with Rob Zombie in early July, but I’m not going to be playing – Rob and I will just be talking with the Show hosts. Last year they forewarned me that sometimes it’s difficult as a guitarist to come up with catchy riffs on-demand to lead into the commercial breaks, but I was completely relaxed with that and had absolutely no problem. I just did what came natural to me … I mean, what I do at home is watch TV and hang out with my family with a guitar in my hand or nearby, and I play all the time, so playing on last year’s Show was just a natural extension of what I do most days as it is. I’ll tell you, though, that I was much more nervous “talking” on That Metal Show than I ever was playing. To me, the “talking” part was much more nerve-wracking.
MER: Your last solo record in 2012 was God Told Me To, which was yet another critically acclaimed album. What’s next for JOHN 5 solo?
JOHN 5: Well, I already have about half of another solo album squared away, but I’m looking to find yet another way to make this next album be “over the top” and I’m looking at possibly including a bunch of guest musicians this time … perhaps focusing on guest guitarists to play with, but I haven’t yet decided on who on what approach I want to take. Also, I love you guys at Metal Express Radio, and I remember hosting a Guest DJ Show a while back and had a blast doing that. How about we do that again sometime soon!?
MER: Anytime, John … the world will definitely look forward to hearing you over the airwaves again! Where can people go to keep track of what you’re doing, both with Rob Zombie and with your solo endeavors?
JOHN5: The best place to start is www.John-5.com. Looking forward to seeing everybody out there on the road!