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John 5 speaks to Chicago Now: ‘We love coming to Chicago because we always do our shopping at The Alley.’

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This past weekend the Mayhem 2013 spectacular set up in Chicago for a kick-ass show.  Before John 5 took his place as right hand man of headline act Rob Zombie, he spoke with Chicago Now about the influences that helped him, family, Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor and why the band love being in Chicago.

John 5 is currently on tour with Rob Zombie at the Mayhem Festival: john-5.com/main/tour/

Read the interview 

Interview: John 5 (A Rob Zombie/Rockstar Mayhem Festival Concert Preview – Saturday, July 27 at First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre)

By Jim Ryan

In town this weekend as a member of Rob Zombie’s touring band, and part of the 2013 Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, I chatted with guitarist John 5 about his role in  the new Rob Zombie album Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor, his most recent solo project God Told me To, playing guitar as a member of both Marilyn Manson and the David Lee Roth Band, buying t-shirts at Strange Cargo in Lakeview and more…

As a member of bands ranging everywhere from Marilyn Manson to David Lee Roth, John 5 is no stranger to the city of Chicago.  “Aw man, we love Chicago!  We love coming to Chicago because we always do our shopping at The Alley.  We go to Strange Cargo and get t-shirts and the whole bit” says the guitarist.

And now that some of those t-shirts will be free, it’s probably not a bad idea to point out the real reason for John 5’s most recent trip to “the windy city:”  the 2013 Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival.

Though John William Lowery’s duties this weekend go far beyond merely playing guitar as a member of Rob Zombie’s touring band:  he was credited as co-writer of just about every song on Zombie’s newest album, April’s Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor (his third Zombie album in that role).

“Sometimes it’s tough.  It’s not an easy writing process… For this record, true story, I came in and I had a ton of riffs.  I had just a ton of stuff.  And I went to Connecticut with Bob Marlette, our producer, and I just played [Rob] all these riffs and he goes, ‘Well… We better start writing now’ and I was like ‘Oh man!’  You never know what he’s gonna want to do so it’s not always an easy process… Which I like!  He has a vision of what he wants and you never know what he’s gonna say” says John 5.

The new album features a much heavier vibe, thanks largely in part to both John 5’s writing and playing.  Rob Zombie himself has asserted that, in his opinion, it brings together the worlds of White Zombie and Rob Zombie better than any of his other solo projects.

“It reminds me of White Zombie big time (me being such a fan of White Zombie back in the day)” concurs John 5.  “If someone said, ‘Here’s the White Zombie record that we never released,’ I wouldn’t have guessed any different.  I would’ve been like ‘Oh, rad.’  So it really does remind me of something like that.”

As evidenced by his solo material, the guitar work of John 5 spans a variety of genres (not just hard rock for which he’s most well known) and he found inspiration in an unlikely source.

“I wanted to play guitar after seeing the Hee Haw show.  I always watched Hee Haw and I would see these guys playing these telecasters and I was like ‘I want to play electric guitar’… I think that’s why I’m so driven to the telecaster as well” explains the guitarist.

From a musical household, Lowery began playing the guitar at only seven years of age.

“Growing up, I had older sisters, my parents were into music, so I listened to anything.  Anything and everything.  If there was cool guitar work, for some reason, I always focused on it.  My Dad really liked Chet Atkins and Roy Clark and stuff like that so I was like ‘Wow, listen to all that guitar playing!’  I was really interested in the guitar at a young age and that’s why I think my styles are so diverse” he continues.

In addition to work on Rob Zombie’s solo projects, John 5 also scored Zombie’s sixth feature film, The Lords of Salem in 2012 (scheduled to arrive on DVD in September).  And another solo project is already in the works.  But for right now, the focus remains solely on touring the Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor album via the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival.

“I want to say (I asked Rob if I could talk about this), White Zombie, [even] Rob Zombie’s solo career, has never done a DVD [or] a live concert.  We’re gonna record our show, a live concert, and release it.  So with this massive stage show, everyone’s gonna be able to see it… Come and check out the show.  You won’t be disappointed, that’s for sure.”

 Interview conducted via phone by Jim Ryan