He’s played with David Lee Roth, Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie, yet his name stands on it’s own. That name is John 5. Armed with his signature Fender Telecaster, John has played his way to the top of best guitarists lists and into the hearts of music fans across the globe. When he is not sharing the stage with rock’s most elite front men, John 5 is making music of his own. I had the extreme honor of chatting with John 5 about his new music, as well as his upcoming projects with Rob Zombie and Ace Frehley. After you read our chat, I have no doubt that you will want to experience this phenom for yourself. Well, you are in luck. John 5 & The Creatures will be playing at The Southgate House this Thursday night, March 10th. You can find a link for tickets at the end of the interview! But without any further ado, ladies and gentleman, this is John 5….
The Music Room: Starting at the beginning on 2016 you began releasing a new video on the first day of each month. In January it was “Black Grass Plague,” in February “Behind the Nut Love,” and just this month you released “Making Monsters.” I know that these releases are all leading up to an album. Can you discuss your thought process in releasing the songs this way?
John 5: My son is 13 years old and I’m looking at…We’re older, we’re not always looking at what’s going on, at what’s brand new. Kids, what they do is just watch music, okay? They don’t even watch t.v. anymore, they just watch their computers or their phones. It’s a whole other trip that we’re not used to. So I thought to myself, this is very interesting. Why is the record business going down, down, down? It always just fascinates me. So I thought, I’m going to do a little research here. I was looking at videos. Most of the videos are way, way more plays than purchases. If you look at a Bruno Mars, it’s over a billion views. Any kind of pop single, it’s well over a billion. A billion is a massive number. It’s unfathomable. So what I’ve been doing, well okay, I’m going to release a new song and a new video every month. So, instead of just getting a whole alum where people say “Oh great, an album” and then it’s gone in a month, each month you get something to new to think about, to listen to, maybe learn or talk to your friends about, or wonder what the next song is going to be like. It’s kind of like The Simpsons, or a t.v. episode. I wonder what’s going to be on next week. So I kind of looked at it that way, and it’s been working amazing.
TMR: Will this lead to a physical release, or will the videos stand on their own?
J5: All of these songs you can buy on iTunes. But it’s going to lead up to a box set, but it’s just going to be for the album. So you’re going to get the cd, the dvd, a documentary, a t-shirt…everything. Picks, just that go with the album. It’s going to this whole huge box set documentary, but it’s not going to be expensive.
TMR: And just so everybody knows, the title of the record is “Guitars, T!ts and Monsters.”
J5: The greatest title ever!
TMR: You are also getting ready to hit the road with The Creatures. You are playing The Southgate House on March 10th. What can fans expect to see who have never experienced John 5 & The Creatures live before?
J5: It’s definitely different from anything you’ll see, I guarantee it. First off, it’s an instrumental show. You know, instrumental shows aren’t that much fun. But I kind of sketched it around…I take my wife to instrumental shows and she’s like Ughh. Because it’s not very entertaining if you’re not a musician. So what I did was make a little show behind it. There is some production to it, so it’s like an Alice Cooper instrumental show. Then we’re doing all styles of music, so that’s entertaining for people too. Where you’re rocking out and then the band play a Bluegrass song and you’re like whoa, whoa. There is a lot that goes on. There is lots of crowd interaction. There’s a lot of really, really fun cool stuff that’s going to happen.
TMR: One thing I read about you a while back that I thought was cool, and I am sure I will just be paraphrasing here, is that while you have been in bands with some pretty big front men over the years, you said that your role in those band was to support the front man and give them what they needed. That was your role, and that’s what you do.
TMR: Do you approach these shows differently as you’re more of the main attraction out front?
J5: These shows are like juggling chainsaws, because there’s so much going on. There is so much musically going on, it’s like whoa…are these guys going to drop this chainsaw at any minute? The band is so tight, it’s really well rehearsed. It’s a well-oiled’ machine. It’s not like we said oh, let’s go rehearse because we have a tour coming up. No, it takes months of rehearsal for this stuff, because there is so much going on. It’s really a regimen.
TMR: So you guys tour through March 20th…
J5: Yeah, we play every night. There are no nights off.
TMR: Wow, so you play every night util the 20th, then you come home and get ready to hit the road with Rob Zombie for pretty much the whole summer.
J5: I go right into rehearsals with Rob, so there’s no real down time. I go right into rehearsals, and my gear is not even back. So I have to have two rigs. A Zombie rig, and then a Creatures rig. So, that’s how crazy it is.
TMR: This is a good lead in for a question that I had planned for later, but I am going to go ahead and ask it now. Do you ever have any down time? Because you seem like one of the busiest guys out there?
J5: Well, me and my wife are taking a vacation. We’re taking a trip to Hawaii. That’s going to be really great because we haven’t had a vacation in a very long time. It’s probably been….I don’t know how many years it’s been, but it’s been years since we’ve had a vacation. So, we’re definitely looking forward to it.
TMR: So we have the tour with Rob, but we also have a new record on the way. It’s called “The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser,” coming out on April 29th….
J5: Very good.
TMR: Yeah, that’s a mouthful there. Can you give us an idea of what to expect with the record? Obviously, we have heard the first single, “Well Everybody’s F*****g in a UFO,” will the rest of the album have the same kind of vibe?
J5: Talking as a Rob Zombie fan, or a White Zombie fan, this record to me is my favorite Zombie record. It’s my favorite White Zombie record because the songs are great. How can I explain it? If you do a shuffle with the new songs and put them in with “Astro Creep” or “Hellbilly Delux 2,” they fit in with that era. These songs are a monster. Really great and really really cool. Great hooks. Great melodies. We’re really super excited about the 29th!
TMR: And you just got done filming the video for UFO as well.
J5: Yeah, that was exciting. There have been a lot of videos in my life lately….
TMR: And as if all of the was not enough, you also scored Rob’s new movie, “31” as well.
J5: Yeah, we’re all finished with that. I just watched the whole movie and it’s a great movie. My favorite Zombie movie. I’m not sure of when that comes out, but it’s top notch. He really hit it out of the park with this one.
TMR: How hard is to take what you know as a recording artist to go in and attempt to score a film?
J5: It is very very difficult. Very difficult. You’re creating emotion. You’re creating suspense. You’re creating tension with music. It is a real challenge to do something like that. It’s something that we’ve been working at for a long time. There’s something like 26 cues. That means 26 little pieces of music, and that’s a lot. I don’t think I would do it for anyone else but Rob.
TMR: Okay, I want to touch on a couple of other things here before I let you go. I know that you are part of the Ace Frehley “Origins: Vol. 1” record. You recorded two songs with him on that. “Spanish Castle Magic” from Hendrix, and of course the Kiss classic, “Parasite.”
J5: How awesome is that?
TMR: For sure. I know you have been a huge Kiss fan all of your like. I remember reading about how you went and bought Love Gun and how important that was to you. I know you guys have been friends for a while now, but does that ever lose its wow factor having Ace call you to play?
J5: It’s so rad, cause I’m really close with Ace, and with Peter and Paul. But to be a part of music that will live on forever, especially playing “Parasite,” I was like, whoa…this is crazy. It was so cool because Ace was like, okay, let’s trade off solos. I said Ace, why don’t you play the “Parasite” solo, and then we’ll start improvising from there? He goes okay, and plays it in one take. One take, and that’s what’s on the record. He’s really great. He is really on fire right now.
TMR: Are you doing any future work with David Lee Roth? There have been rumors that there is a record already in the can that you have played on with him. Or are there any plans to record new music with him?
J5: I don’t know. I love Dave, and am great friends with Dave, but I don’t know. I mean, I am so busy. If there were two of me, yeah.
TMR: I mean, what else are you doing?
J5: Yeah, really. It’s wild because I am going to be gone for so long, you know? And I’m so busy. But I love Dave, and we right great music together. So, who knows what will happen?
TMR: The last few things here are just kind of rapid fire questions and we’ll wrap it up. First off, what is the longest you ever go with out having a guitar in your hands?
J5: I would say, traveling. If I’m going overseas, and then you get to the hotel and kind of fall asleep. I think that’s the longest.
TMR: Its seems that a lot of guys in rock are either Strat guys or Les Paul guys. What makes you a Telie guy?
J5: It’s from childhood. It’s just like if you liked Spiderman or Superman, or monsters or whatever. It was the Telecaster for me. I knew I wanted to play the electric guitar. And I saw the Telecaster and I thought that was the only electric guitar there was. I didn’t know there were any other shapes or makes or models. So, I was so obsessed with the Telecaster and I think that stuck with me in my head since I was a child. Cause you know, when go to look for stuff on Ebay, it’s always stuff from when you were a kid.
TMR: Last question. When people think of John 5 and Rob Zombie, certain thoughts come to mind, like Electric Warlocks and such. What would people be most surprised by when it comes to life on the road for you guys?
J5: It’s discipline. I think that is the thing that people would be most surprised at. The discipline and the respect for the show and the audience. It’s making sure that we feel good and put on the best show for the audience. And that’s the truth.
TMR: Well, I saw you guys here last summer in Cincinnati, so I know that’s true. Obviously I’m looking forward to seeing you and The Creatures Thursday at The Southgate House. And then the opportunity on August 7th to see you again with Rob Zombie and Korn.
J5: Yeah, you’re going to sick of me.
TMR: No way man, everyone here in Ciny is looking forward to it!
Purchase your tickets for John 5 & The Creatures here!!!