On the recent ‘Night of the Living Dreads’ tour, as the Rob Zombie and Korn camps rolled into Grand Rapids for their show at the Deltaplex, John 5 stopped to speak to The Examiner about coming home to Michigan, touring, working on Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor, Rob Zombie’s Great American Nightmare haunted festival and all the different balls he has been juggling this year in terms of work.
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John 5 is one of those musicians who you could talk to all day long and never get bored because he is truly in the business because he loves music.
The guitarist has toured with everyone from Lita Fordand David Lee Roth to K.D. Lang and Marilyn Manson.
As a studio writer, he has written songs with a who’s who of the music business including Rob Halford,Lynyrd Skynyrd, Garbage, Meat Loaf, Slash, Avril Lavigne and Ricky Martin.
In 2005 John 5 hooked up with Rob Zombie and became his lead guitarist and has helped write lyrics on his last three albums including the April release,Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor which features their current single, a cover of Grand Funk Railroad’s “We’re An American Band”.
John 5 also helped score some of Rob Zombie’srecent movies including 2012’s Lords of Salem.
In between, he also finds time to put out powerful solo instrumental albums that show his interest in a wide range of genres.
Rob Zombie and his band spent the summer headlining the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival and recently set out with friends Korn for theNight of the Living Dreads co-headlining tour.
The tour made a stop in Grand Rapids on Friday at theDeltaplex and before the show John 5 spoke about the tour and how excited he was to be back playing in Michigan since he grew up in Grosse Pointe, “Tonight is going to be awesome. It’s a really, really big show. The tour is going really well and we’re having a blast.”
When asked what those coming out to the Grand Rapids show and those coming out for the rest of the tour should expect, he had this to say, “Oh my god! It’s going to be a great big party. Tonight is a sold out show and we’re going to have a total, total Zombie party! It’s gonna be crazy!”
He says they are enjoying being out with Korn and that they really “feed off of each other” and that every night is something different with bras being thrown up on stage and having a chance to bring up a five-year old on stage with him and putting the guitar on him.
John 5 also says that he had a blast working on Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor, “It was cool. We went to Connecticut and it was in the middle of nowhere so it was really isolated and there were no distractions. It was even hard to watch movies. I couldn’t get anything on my phone and there was no internet so there were no distraction. I just concentrated on doing this record. I would get up and walk around the property and just write my stuff. I just woke up in the morning and would go early to the studio in my pajamas and just work all day. It was great.”
He says that there is no one song in their current set list that he is enjoying performing the most but that he enjoys performing all of the new ones from “Dead City Radio and the New Gods of Supertown” to “We’re An American Band” to “Teenage Nosferatu Pussy”, “I love playing all of those because they are new. It’s like going to a new restaurant you really enjoy. It’s like, oh I love this! Not that the old songs aren’t great but it’s just beefing up the restaurant quite a bit with something new.”
Rob Zombie and his band had a busy Halloween this year playing Halloween night on Jimmy Kimmel Live and performing two nights at Rob Zombie’s Great American Nightmare haunted festival in Los Angeles, which was a three week combined music festival and state of the art haunted attractions.
When asked about the event John 5 got excited, sharing, “You know Halloween is my favorite time of year and I had such a great Halloween this year. I like to really go all out. I start celebrating October 1st all the way through the end of the month. The Great American Nightmare was such a success and such an amazing thing. We played the last two nights and it was such a massive stage. It was so much fun. Then the Kimmel show on Halloween. It really was such a great Halloween. I loved it. It was maybe one of my best!”
He says that he hopes the festival will make a return next year but it all depends on what Rob Zombiewants to do but that he can’t see why he wouldn’t want to since it was such a great success.
As for the upcoming holidays, he will be flying back home to L.A. for Thanksgiving before taking some time to visit Rob Zombie and finish up their first ever live DVD, “Rob has never done a DVD on his own or with White Zombie so it’s exciting. I think I’m going to go to his place and work on mixing it. He already edited it and so we’re just going to mix it and get it ready. We’ll do that in December and then we head overseas for a bunch of concerts. We’re doing Australia and New Zealand and Mexico. All those places, so we’re very busy. I’ve got to get my passport ready!”
As if he didn’t have enough going on, John 5 is also working on another solo album.
“I am working on one and it’s awesome! That’s what it should be called: It’s Awesome,” he enthusiastically shared. “It’s crazy! I’m so proud of this record and people are really going to enjoy it because I enjoy it so much. I have Matt Bissonette playing bass on it and he’s incredible. He’s playing with Elton John right now. This album is so over the top and I’ve got this drummer Rodger Carter playing drums on it and it’s just total crazy, crazy music. I think everyone is going to enjoy this one a lot.”
Although he is not sure exactly when the album is coming out he is thinking possibly sometime in the spring but first he really wants to get into promoting the album beforehand with promo videos that will help introduce the songs to his audience, “I really want to concentrate on marketing this and getting people excited about it so maybe the spring but I do so much traveling that I have to try to take advantage of the time I have to finish it up.”
With all of the different balls that he is constantly juggling, I asked him which area of music he enjoys the most: being out with a touring band, working on his solo stuff or doing session work for other musicians and he had this to say, “You know I just love being in the studio so I guess my solo stuff would be my favorite thing. Live work with other artists is always a situation where you don’t really know the artist well so it’s always a challenge because you don’t know what they like. It’s like going on a first date, you don’t know what they’re going to be like. It’s uncomfortable until you get to know them.”
As for an artist he still really would like to work with, he was quick to come up with, “Prince. I think that would be awesome. He’s something else!”
John 5 says that the best thing about being in the music business is just having a chance to be in it, “It is a really hard business but I enjoy it so much. I’m just taking it all in and not taking anything for granted. I’m really enjoying myself just making records and touring and I’m like, wow, I have a really cool life. I’m making a living out of playing guitar. What’s so special about it is that I never thought or never wished for what I do right now. It is too beyond even my own dreams. I mean my dream was just to be a session musician so to even think about being a rock star was just so beyond my dreams that to even think about it seemed impossible. I’m really having a great time. I don’t take it for granted, that’s for sure!”
Finally, after being asked if he could go back and relive one moment in his busy career, he expressed that being able to go back on stage and play a show with his parents there, “That’s a good answer I think. That is something I would really want to relive. Something very special. I remember a show withK.D. Lang where I was playing up there and my mother and father were both there and it was very special.”