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Feature Story and Gallery: John 5 at Reggies

| April 27, 2017 | 1 Comment

 

John 5

Astute music fans should already know that John 5 takes guitar playing to a stratospheric level.
The virtuoso guitarist performs diverse musical styles including country swing, jazz, rock and industrial metal on his eighth solo album, Season Of The Witch. Joining John 5 on the album is his excellent band, The Creatures, consisting of bassist Ian Ross and drummer Rodger Carter.

Aside from his day job as Rob Zombie’s right hand man, Mr. 5 explores his adventurous musical side on Witch. The music videos 5 has released throughout 2016  also appear on the album; a technique Metallica executed successfully last year as well. With the surge of music videos breaking singles online, 5’s plan was to get his music  on the screens of the fans  before the album dropped.

Mosh: What do you like about this current video age where music is so visual?
John 5: You, the individual are now your own TV station. Meaning, you can watch whatever you want whenever you want. With the MTV days, you don’t have to sit in front of your TV for six hours waiting for the new Van Halen video to come on MTV. You can just [watch] it whenever you want, so you’re your own TV station now. The same goes for Instagram. You’re now your own television, or your own advertising. You can advertise your shows or new video with Facebook or anything or talk about what’s on your mind. You are the new media for yourself and other individuals.

Mosh: The Planet of the Apes theme for the “Here’s To The Crazy Ones” video is fantastic. How did you or the director come up with this idea?
John 5: These are things I love and enjoy. I think it’s very smart. I think the makeup was great and I think the stories were great, and it was so revolutionary. “Here’s to the Crazy Ones” is, meaning anyone who was revolutionary, who had a great idea. The quote came from Steve Jobs, he wrote a letter and it said, ‘Here’s to the crazy ones.’ Anything that was revolutionary. I love the Planet of the Apes and I thought what a trippy thing, if these apes were awesome musicians. I just thought it was a lot of fun.

Mosh: You’ve always been about diversity in your solo stuff, and these 13 tracks certainly have that. What did you set out to achieve with this album?
John 5: I wanted a record that I wanted to listen to. If you’re listening to a record and there’s 13 tracks and all of the songs are exactly the same, it can get monotonous. With this, you never know what you’re going to get back. There’s so many different roads and different avenues that you can take listening to this music. It’s kind of a journey and I’m pushing the limits of myself with the playing and the production, because it’s all done live. And when you see the show live, it will sound exactly like the record. Because it is so live. I would just rehearse, rehearse, rehearse and then go in and record it in like two hours.

Mosh: The way you yolk many different styles of music together seamlessly in the songs makes them very intriguing. “Black Grass Plague” really stands out.
John 5: Everything is an inspiration to me. I saw a great artist on YouTube and the song is called “Pickin’ and a Singin,’” and he’s switching all these instruments. So at the end of the song, or if you see the video, there’s one part where I’m playing an electric mandolin and then there’s another part where I’m playing a banjo. It’s just something that’s different and fun. People get a kick out of it live, too. It’s just those kinds of things that makes the song, the video and the live experience interesting. And it’s all inspiration.

Mosh: Out of your entire solo catalog, you’ve stated in other interviews that this album is your favorite. Why?
John 5: I think the way it was all put together with the videos and the singles and just the blood, sweat and tears of putting it all together. It was a lot of hard work, but it paid off. I’m so proud of it and it’s so rewarding to hold something in your hands after all of the work. I did take my time, because luckily there wasn’t a record company saying, ‘We need this record.’ But remember back in the day when a band came out and you bought the record and you listened to every song and you just worshipped that record. You knew every lick, every lyric and everything. And that’s how I wanted it to be with this one. And the only way I could do that was giving a song a slow pace, so when they get the album, they’re going to know pretty much every song on the record; which is a rarity nowadays.

Mosh: The track “Triple D” has a great neoclassical vibe to it.
John 5: I’m glad you asked me about this. There’s six strings on the guitar. So my low string, which is an E string, is tuned down to a D. Now the third string is a D, and my last string is tuned down to a D. So everything’s tuned to D. I’m playing all the D strings with this arpeggio and I’m skipping between each D string. It’s very technically challenging, but it’s a lot of fun.

Mosh: The title track is by far the heaviest track on the album. It seems to have a lot of industrial metal influences in the vein of Rob Zombie or Ministry.
John 5: Yeah, that’s who I am. The whole record is who I am. But “Season of the Witch” is who I am. It’s what I write and what I listen to. Obviously, I love Ministry and Rob Zombie, and Nine Inch Nails and all this stuff. I love that track and people really enjoy it as well. I have not done a video for that one yet, but I will eventually.

Mosh: You played on David Lee Roth’s 1998 self-titled album and you’ve mentioned before that there are some unreleased session tapes. Man would I love a chance to get to hear those recordings!
John 5: It is exciting. I have it and I’ll listen to it every once in a while. It is exciting because it’s kind of like this lost tape of a certain band you like to listen to; a lost album that hasn’t been heard yet. Dave of course is in Van Halen and I don’t think he’s going to want anything to come out and confuse the audience. But it’s something that hopefully he’ll release in the future. But it is something else, I’ll tell you that much. I’m happy I get to enjoy it every once in a while and hopefully the world will get to enjoy it someday as well.

Mosh: You’ll be at Reggie’s on the 16th. What do you like about playing Chicago?
John 5:  Yes! Really excited. We’re [also] going to be playing Chicago Open Air (July 14-16) with Zombie opening up for KISS, which is going to be really cool. Chicago’s a great place to play and there’s always great crowds. And I’m very thankful for that. Whenever I get up on stage I’m so happy to be there, and I think the crowd feeds off that as well. I don’t address the crowd very well with a microphone. I’m better with a guitar in my hands. I’m just really lucky to do what I do and I don’t take it for granted for sure.

Appearing 4/16 at Reggies, Chicago.

– Words by Kelley Simms; Photo gallery Edward Spinelli

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