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INTERVIEW: JOHN 5 of John 5 & The Creatures and Rob Zombie – March 2015

I get excited when I get offered an interview with a rocker that I really enjoy listening to and dig rocking out to.  Michigan native John Lowery has made quite a storied career for himself, and he is still climbing.  As the guitarist for 2wo, Marilyn Manson, and currently Rob Zombie, he takes rock guitar to a new level, but it’s nothing compared to his solo instrumental catalog.  Having just released his eighth disc, Careful With That Axe, in ten years, in addition to all of the other work he has done in that same time frame, he is arguably the busiest man in music today… and he isn’t slowing down anytime soon.  Taking a break from all things Zombie, John 5 has put together a trio and is out on the road playing his solo material for the masses and he is having a blast.  He tells us about the tour and so much more…

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Toddstar: John, how are you doing today?

John 5: Good, how are you?

Toddstar: Good, thank you so much for taking time out for us. We really appreciate it.

John 5: You got it.

Toddstar: Well let’s talk about the big happenings in John 5 Land. Big solo tour with John 5 and The Creatures. How’s the tour going so far?

John 5: Yeah. It’s going really well surprisingly. It’s like… a lot of people coming out and it’s really exciting because it’s something so brand new for me. It’s totally unknown but it’s been nothing but so much fun. It’s been so much fun so everybody’s having a great time.

Toddstar: You say surprisingly, are you really that surprised that people are coming out to see you play?

John 5: Well not to see me play, but it’s instrumental. It’s totally instrumental so it’s just a different thing that I’ve never done before. I didn’t know what it was going to be like.

Toddstar: How long have you had the thought to maybe go out and take this on the road and see what would happen?

John 5: Probably the last, I don’t know, seven years or so. I’ve always been so busy and it’s great to finally do it. It’s so rewarding and the time is just right. I’m really happy.

Toddstar: Cool. Well tell us about The Creatures. Who’s in the band with you?

John 5: I have Rodger Carter on drums, who’s played on a lot of my instrumental records. We recorded the album in his studio. Let’s see, he’s been, I don’t know how many records he’s played on, but he’s played on quite a few of my instrumental records. We recorded the album in his studio, The Doghouse Studio. On bass, we have Ian Ross and he was… I got him at MI and just auditioned a bunch of bass players. He was great. He totally did an amazing job.

Toddstar: Great. You’re doing a full instrumental set. Are you pulling stuff from your very first album? Are you working your way through from the origins of John 5 up until now? How are you picking what you’re playing?

John 5: We are doing it from each record, yeah. I would say from each record. From Vertigo, Songs For Sanity, Devil Knows My Name. All that stuff. It’s really fun. People are enjoying it a lot from Careful With That Axe. People are really digging it. There’s a show to it too. There’s production, there’s monsters that come out. There’s all sorts of cool stuff that happens.

Toddstar: The fans can expect to get a full blown show not John with an acoustic picking for us?

John 5: Yeah, I’m doing a little bit of everything. There is… I’m doing some western swing, some flamenco, all sorts of cool stuff.

Toddstar: Awesome. Any cities really stand out with the crowd so far?

John 5: Well, of course L.A., my home, at the Whisky A Go Go, which was great with Michael Anthony got up on stage and played. There was, I’d say, Houston was amazing. San Francisco was great. Vegas was great. We’re going to play New York City tonight and it’s just been really cool.

Toddstar: There’s show that’s near and dear to my heart coming up, it’s a week from yesterday actually, I cannot wait to see you. You talk about L.A. being your home, but I can’t wait to see you come back home and play in the Detroit area.

John 5: That’s right. I used to play there when I was a kid. It’s going to be a cool thing because I haven’t been there since I was a kid. It’s going to be neat, that’s for sure.

Toddstar: I’m sure there’s friends and family that can’t wait to see you back in town as well.

John 5: Yeah. It’s going to be cool because I’m always back there doing DTE or something like that. But this will be totally different.

Toddstar: It’s all you and it’s definitely a lot more intimate, than something like like Pine Knob or DTE.

John 5: Yeah and I like that. It’s so cool because in a couple of months I’m going to be back playing those huge shows with Zombie, so I really love doing things like this. Making it intimate and the people really enjoy it as well. It’s really fun. It’s been just a blast.

Toddstar: That’s good to hear. So many others talk about how grueling it can be going out on the road and to hear somebody talk about how fun it actually is, is nice to hear.

John 5: It really is fun.

Toddstar: Talking about going out on the road, John, when you’re looking around your place back home in L.A. and you’re thinking, “Okay, I’m going to be out on the road for a little while”, what are the few things that you look around and say, “I have to take this with me”?

John 5: From my home and stuff? That’s a great question. I’d love to take my wife, but she’s working. She comes out and visits. Other than that, I love my monster movies. My Universal monster movies, I watch those before I got to sleep every night. What else do I love? I love… I had this little rubber creature from The Black Lagoon, I bring out with me. Just things like that. Things that are comforting, you know? I always travel with my guitar, to the hotel and all that stuff. Just things like that. Comforts from home.

Toddstar: Let’s say you’re wandering through the Token next Tuesday night or through the venue in New York tonight and you drop your cell phone. If you have music on there, what’s the one or two pieces of music that as a fan found your phone, that would just be amazed that you actually listen to?

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John 5: Well, let’s see. I would say … I love every kind of music and I’m not ashamed of anything. There’s a lot of country on there. A lot of Buck Owens. The new Zombie record’s on there, so you could really enjoy to find that. I know that. Things like that.

Toddstar: Going back and looking through your influences and the things that you’ve done, are there are any guys out there that you would like to share a stage with whether that be for two minutes or two hours?

John 5: Let’s see. I would love to do something with Prince, that would be great. Who else? A Beatle or… a Beatle would be amazing. People like that, but I’m so content with what I’ve done. Very happy.

Toddstar: You said that early on you’re one of the busiest men in the business I think. Getting back to your discography a little bit. You mentioned that you’re going to be playing a lot of stuff from Careful With That Axe. How in your mind has your music evolved from your very first disc? You know when you put out Vertigo, 10 years before that. How has your playing evolved, do you feel?

John 5: I think that it is I love to learn and I’m obsessed with learning and just trying to better myself. That’s what I try to do ever day, actually. I’ll never get to that point where I’m content. I never will, so that’s what’s great about this instrument. You can never really get to that pinnacle or you can never get to that peak. That’s what I really enjoy. There’s no end. It’s like a video game with no end to it.

Toddstar: That’s great insight. When you’re looking through the set list every night out on this tour, what are the couple three songs that you just can’t wait to plug in and play?

John 5: All of them because all of these songs are so crazy. All the songs are a blast. All of them. It’s the whole set, it’s just so insane.

Toddstar: Should we expect to hear just the John 5’s solo stuff? You mentioned it’s instrumental, so are you only pulling stuff from your discography or are you ripping out some stuff and doing covers that you haven’t previously recorded?

John 5: I am doing a medley of songs at the end of the set. I’m doing, what else am I doing? I’m doing a cover of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.” There’s all sorts of cool surprises that are going to happen.

Toddstar: Awesome. That was a great cover from God Told Me To. One of my favorites.

John 5: Yeah, thank you.

Toddstar: Looking back at your catalog, both the John 5 catalog and everything you’ve done. You have such a historic career and you’re still such a young guy. Where are a few things in your catalog that you look back on and you want to be remembered for it? That you’re most proud of.

John 5: In my catalog of the instrumental stuff? Or just in general of all the things?

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Toddstar: How about both?

John 5: I know it’s not the answer you’re looking for, but I’m proud of, I’d say, I’m proud of everything. I love Careful With That Axe. I love God Told Me To. With the other stuff, I’m so proud of all the Zombie stuff and the Manson stuff. David Lee Roth, you know, so everything I’ve done, I’m very particular. I’m very proud of everything I’ve done. I’ve bypassed and missed a lot of bullets so I’m really … I work hard at everything I do and I’m very proud of what I’ve done so far.

Toddstar: Awesome. With that being said, again Careful With That Axe came out last November. Going hear a lot of that great stuff on this tour. With that going on, you’ve got that, you’ve got the solo tour going on. You’ve mentioned you’ve got the Zombie tour coming up. Everything is pointing up for John 5. Along that line…

John 5: There’s a lot going on!

Toddstar: With all of that said, for you at this point in your career and your life, what is the meaning of life for you now?

John 5: The meaning of life, I think, I really do think it’s just being happy in what you do in life, marriage. You’re doing what you love for a living and just living a happy full life. Healthy life and I really think that’s most important. It’s your life. You have to make it where you’re happy because no one’s going to do it for you. It’s your life and you have to make it to where you’re happy.

Toddstar: Well, I couldn’t have said that better myself. John, thank you so much for taking time out again. I know you’re very busy, getting ready for a show in New York tonight. Hopefully keeping those fingers warmed up and ready for your tour show up at the Token Lounge in Westland and the Detroit area next Tuesday. We wish you safe travels until we see you on that stage.

John 5: Thank you. Thank you very much.

Toddstar: Alright John, we’ll see you next Tuesday.

John 5: Thank you. Okay, bye-bye.






Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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