The relationship between vocalist and guitarist has always been a key ingredient in metal. One cannot imagine the powerhouse vocals of Robert Plant without the stylized guitar work of Jimmy Page or the wailing cries of Deep Purple’s Ian Gillian without the jam-style rock of Ritchie Blackmore.
In the early ‘80s when more than a few high profile vocalists embarked on solo careers it was innovative guitar work that led the way. Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie James Dio even David Lee Roth relied on guitar prodigies to enhance their styles and prolong their careers. One such prodigy was John Lowery known to the world as the notorious axe-master John 5.
John 5 is undeniably one of the greatest guitar virtuosos of our time. His talent and skill have made him a sought after commodity in all styles of music. He has spent his lifetime working with legends like: Rob Halford, Marilyn Manson, Lita Ford, Paul Stanley, Rob Zombie, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Sebastian Bach, Ricky Martin, Alice Cooper and Rod Stewart, just to name a few.
John 5 is also a solo artist, completing his eighth studio album in 2014 (Careful With That Axe). Now, John 5 & The Creatures are embarking on an East Coast tour opening March 4th. Here’s your chance to experience the guitar god in a small club atmosphere. This is a rare opportunity to watch a master at work. See him now before Rob Zombie’s new album (The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser) drops and you’re forced to watch his mind-bending guitar work through an auditorium’s jumbo screen!
I recently had the opportunity to speak to John 5 prior to this current tour’s kick off. Please enjoy some excerpts of our 3/4/16 interview.
David Halbe: Your 16 date tour kicks off today in Westland, MI – Are you excited?
John 5: Yes, very, very excited. We are super psyched. We’re playing every day so there are no days off and we’re super excited to get out there in front of the fans.
Dave: That’s kick-ass! Your last solo album Careful with that Axe was released back in 2014. What’s the thought process behind this current tour?
John 5: Well, what I’m doing is releasing a new song and a new video once a month. At the end of the year, I’m going to put it all together for a physical album with all the videos and all the songs, a documentary and maybe some action figures based on the “Making Monsters” video. All sorts of really cool stuff is going to happen.
Dave: That’s sounds awesome. Do you have a title in mind?
John 5: Oh yeah and it’s going to be called Guitars, Tits, and Monsters.
Dave: Hell yeah! Who makes up the creatures band and how long have you guys been playing together?
John 5: Well, we have Ian Roth on bass and Rodger Carter on drums but we’ve only been touring together for about a year. Of course, I’ve been making metal records for like eight years so it’s been an easy transition but it’s been an awesome experience working with those guys.
Dave: What can you tell me about the latest video, “Making Monsters”, how long does it take to make a Stop Motion/Claymation video?
John 5: That video took about six months to do.
Dave: Holy shit!
John 5: Yeah, it was really intense but I feel like it was well worth it. That’s a great video and people really seem to enjoy it.
Dave: You also worked on Rob Zombie’s new video “Well, Everybody’s Fucking in a UFO”, the pics on Facebook made the shoot look hilarious, how was that?
John 5: You know it was wonderful, just wonderful. You know, when you’ve got the brilliant mind of Rob Zombie, you know you are going to have a lot of fun. It’s just a crazy video, we’re really excited about it. We can’t wait for it to come out, we’re really excited to see it.
Dave: The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser, Rob’s sixth studio album will be released on April 29th – are you looking forward to that?
John 5: Oh yeah, we’ve been working on that for a long time and it’s finally coming out on the 29th which is also going to be our first show. It’s gonna be a monster for sure, it’s a great record. We’re going to play a lot of songs off the new album and we are really excited about it.
Dave: You’ve also got the [Return of the Dreads] tour with Zombie & Korn coming up in July. I’m looking forward to that….
John 5: Yeah man, it’s going be huge. I’ve got so much touring coming up this year, it’s really no rest for the wicked!
Dave: (Laughs) That’s the truth! You’re busy as hell! I read you also contributed on the new Ace Frehley album which is due out April 15th. I know you’ve been friends with Kiss for a long time, how was that experience?
John 5: That was great. Ace is awesome. It was just a dream to play “Parasite” with Ace because we grew up listening to that song on Hotter than Hell and Kiss Alive.
Dave: Fuck yeah.
John 5: So I said Ace ‘why don’t you play that solo, how it is on the album and we’ll start improvising’ and he was like ‘perfect’ and he played it, in one take no joke and that was the one that ended up on the record. It’s just incredible and you know he’s an incredible man, that guy is on fire right now. He’s singing great and playing great.
Dave: Excellent. I know about your involvement with the film score for Lords of Salem but I was wondering if you were involved with the scoring of Zombie’s upcoming film 31?
John 5: Yes. I did the score for 31. I just watched the movie and it’s really a great movie. I think it’s Rob’s best movie. I really, really think that.
John 5: I mean. I can’t wait for it to come out so people can see it. It’s an incredible movie.
Dave: I believe it. What’s it like working on a film score? Do you watch individual scenes and try to add the right music?
John 5: Working on film scores is really difficult. You’re creating emotion, you’re dialing in intensity, you just have all these feelings that need to be expressed but you don’t want to get in the way of the movie itself. You don’t want the music to be a distraction.
Dave: More like an enhancement of what you’re seeing visually?
John 5: Yes, but there’s a lot of different music that goes into it. It’s definitely a challenge.
Dave: I think it’s awesome you’re getting into that.
John 5: It’s rewarding but a lot of work.
Dave: Thank you again for your time today, I appreciate it. Hope to see you on Sunday.
John 5: Absolutely, thank you.
John 5 on tour: