July 24, 2019 Interview – John 5 Talks Invasion, Rob Zombie, + More
If there was such a thing as a Rock-n-Roll superhero, John 5 would fit the bill. Prolifically releasing new albums in 2017 and 2018, he is set to return with Invasion, his third album in three consecutive years. Famed for working with the likes of David Lee Roth, prior to becoming a fixture in Marilyn Manson, and more recently Rob Zombie, John 5 has dedicated his life to becoming a master of the guitar.
Equipped with extremely polished skills on the fret board, his schizophrenic tastes run the gamut from Metal, Bluegass, and Blues, to Electronic and beyond. The only real question is, can the mythical figure known as John 5 be stopped? The answer is no, but moreover, why would you want to anyway! Inspired and firing on all cylinders, the virtuoso guitarist recently sat down to talk his career, his latest album, plans for the rest of 2019, plus much more.
Cryptic Rock – Since we last spoke in 2014, you have released a couple more albums, toured solo, as well as with Rob Zombie, so you have really done a lot. How would you describe the last five years for you?
John 5 – Just how you just said, I’m so lucky that I get to do what I do. I get to play music in front of people, get to release records, and get to play with Rob Zombie. It’s pretty much all I do, but I love it, I love it so much! I really don’t take it for granted, even if I’m sick.
I had pneumonia on the last tour in Canada, a full blown pneumonia, and I only canceled one show. We played everyday, so I didn’t have one day to get better, but that’s how much I love it and I don’t want to give it up. The one show I did cancel they told me you cannot go on, it’s impossible, but that’s how much I love it, it is so important to me. So for the last five years all I’ve been doing is playing, playing, and playing.
Cryptic Rock – You have certainly proven to be extremely dedicated to your craft. You are preparing to release Invasion July 31st, which is actually your birthday. You have released a solo record each of the last three years. It’s impressive you have been able to put this much new material out in such a prolific matter.
John 5 – I know, right? (Laughs) I am impressed by it too. It’s a lot of work to do that, but I think it is because I play guitar so much and I’m so obsessed with it. I won’t call it a sickness, because I’m not hurting anybody with it, I hope, but I just love to play all the time. I’m always writing, and if I’m playing something I will say, “That sounds cool, maybe I will put that into a song.” It works out really well.
Cryptic Rock – Each of your records has a different sound. Is there a theme involved with Invasion?
John 5 – It’s what I do sitting around. In fact, I was just playing guitar before we started talking. It’s just music I love. I have some Bluegrass, some crazy Rock stuff, but even some EDM style music in there like if there was a DJ, but the DJ was making all the sounds by themselves with a guitar. That is kind of how I took that approach with “Crank It” and “I Am John 5.” I started getting into that, playing those songs live, and people really love it. So why not? I play what I love, it’s from the heart, and people really seem to enjoy it.
Cryptic Rock – The album sounds great. You have released a few music videos as well. What was it like making the music video “Zoinks!” with Brent Boggs?
John 5 – I’ve always wanted to do a Scooby-Doo type animation thing and make it a big production. These songs are important to me and I wanted to make some cool videos with them. We have done a video for “Zoinks!,” “I Am John 5,” “Crank It,” “Midnight Mass,” and now a new video is going to come out with the album on July 31st called “I Want It All.”
Cryptic Rock – Very cool and the videos are fun to watch. It is well known you are a massive Horror fan, so would you consider doing a John 5 Horror-related cartoon mini-series?
John 5 – I would love to! I think it would be so cool and to have cool music with it. It would be amazing and a dream come true.
Cryptic Rock – That would be exciting to see. You recently had a little break from touring prior to picking back up on with Rob Zombie when you head out with Marilyn Manson. What do you do with the little down time you have?
John 5 – I play guitar all the time. I like to go to the movies with the wife and I like to collect my KISS stuff; I know it sounds silly, but I really enjoy it a lot. All those things are very therapeutic; they are all really nice and relaxing things for me.
Cryptic Rock – It is good to have that time off, but even when you are sick you only miss one show!
John 5 – Yeah, even when I have pneumonia, the worst of the worst. I love being home, I love being on the road, and I love recording, so life is very good.
Cryptic Rock – It sounds like you have a good balance going on. As mentioned, Invasion hits on July 31st and you are pretty booked on the Rob Zombie tour through August. That said, can we expect some more touring for Invasion?
John 5 – I’m going to always tour. September 1st I am doing a big show at 1720 in Los Angeles with The Aristocrats, which is an amazing band. That’s a very special show: I’m going to put some special guests together, have a party and a good time. I’ll probably do a Halloween run too in the States. I don’t know where we’re going to be, but we’re always playing.
Cryptic Rock – It will be great to see you get out and play Invasion more. As far as your band The Creatures, you have worked with them for some time now. What is it like working with them?
John 5 – They are such great musicians and people, that is the most important thing. I treat them well, treat them with kindness and respect which they deserve. They are just great musicians and I’m really lucky to have them. I think the first tour together was in 2015, it’s been going extremely well, and I’m psyched.
Cryptic Rock – Yes, you have been together with them for quite a while now. So, are you already working on new material for a new album in 2020?
John 5 – Yeah! I’m always doing it. Right now I am working on something so crazy and cool. I always have that kind of feel where I say, “This will be great for a record.” I’m always working and it really never ends.
Cryptic Rock – It is wonderful to hear how passionate you are about writing. Being such a big Horror movie buff, do you find movies inspire your music at all?
John 5 – I don’t think so. I think it’s more if I see someone working hard. For example, Toy Story 4, it is how hard they work on that stuff that inspires me. It is the years and years that go into making those movies is what inspires me. It makes me feel I want to work really hard too and have a great product.
Cryptic Rock – Understandable. When you see the amount of passion someone puts into something it can inspire you. You inspire people as well with the passion you put into your music.
John 5 – I hope so. That’s what it’s all about: I just want to inspire people. Hopefully I will be able to go see them in concert one day!
Cryptic Rock – That would be very cool. There have been rumors that you have enough material to make another David Lee Roth record. Is that something that will see the light of day?
John 5 – That’s totally up to Dave. Dave’s with Van Halen and I love Van Halen. Van Halen is so important to me in my life and millions of other people. I would love for it to see the light of day sometime in the future. We will see what happens, but I would be very excited for that to happen.
Cryptic Rock – It would be great to see. It has been over fifteen years since you and Dave released material together.
John 5 – Yeah, that’s right. It’s been a while but I’ve been working, he’s been working, so life is good and we can’t complain about that.
Cryptic Rock – Exactly. Here is the big question, have you seen any new Horror movies you enjoyed?
John 5 – I just saw Annabelle Comes Home and it was okay. I didn’t like it as much as the other movies, and I’m not that kind of person – if it’s a good movie, it’s a good movie. Listen, I know nothing about making movies, I just know what I watch and see. What I liked about the Annabelle and Insidious movies was you didn’t have to have these special effects, it was just a great story. With Annabelle Comes Home they had these weird special effects and it wasn’t like the other movies. I wasn’t so blown away by it.
Cryptic Rock – Right, sometimes special effects can take you out of a film, especially CGI effects.
John 5 – Yeah, look at The Shining (1980), it had no special effects or anything, it was just terrifying.
Cryptic Rock – Right, it was based on the atmosphere the film created, good camera work, and setting a mood.
John 5 – Yes, it is something I know nothing about, I just know things are scary. You know what is really scary to me? Elder people when they get dementia. That is really scary to me! Things like that terrify me because it’s real. Those are real things that can happen and that is scary. I just like seeing a movie that has a great story.
Cryptic Rock – Agreed. What are your thoughts on practical effects used in older Horror films?
John 5 – I think that’s cool because it’s fun in a sense; people cringed and I see it as a lot of fun. The Shining, Carrie (1976), The Omen (1976), The Exorcist (1973), Halloween (1978), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), there is a reason why those movies still live on today.