Guitarist JOHN 5 Says He Wants To Make Every Solo Album ‘Special’

Joe Charupakorn of Premier Guitar recently conducted an interview with ROB ZOMBIE/ex-MARILYN MANSON guitarist John 5. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Premier Guitar: Is [your new solo album] “God Told Me To” an evolution forward from your previous releases?

John 5: I think it is, because it’s half acoustic and half electric. I’m dabbling in some Spanish style music on this one — some different acoustic types of playing like knocking on the guitar and creating rhythms, and using the violin bow. I’m also using the mandolin and all sorts of crazy stuff.

Premier Guitar: What inspired this?

John 5: I’ve never done it before and I wanted to change it up. I want to make every album special, so people aren’t like, “Oh, here’s another John 5 album. It’s going to be a little country and a little rock.” I want to keep them on their toes so they never know what they’re going to get.

Premier Guitar: On [your cover of MICHAEL JACKSON‘s] “Beat It”, you pretty much played Eddie Van Halen‘s solo note-for-note. Why did you do choose to do that?

John 5: “Beat It” is just an iconic piece of music and the solo is also iconic — it’s incredible. So, I had to pay tribute to how amazing it is. I think it came out great, I’m really proud of it.

Premier Guitar: After the solo proper, you go into your own solo and it sounds like you made a conscious effort to avoid any signature Eddie Van Halen-isms.

John 5: I wanted to put my style into it. Eddie always said, “Have your own style, have your own thing, and do your own thing.” So that’s what I did.

Premier Guitar: Speaking of which, you’ve played and recorded with David Lee Roth before. Have you checked out the new VAN HALEN album, “A Different Kind Of Truth”?

John 5: Yes. It’s amazing. I love it so much. I think they did a phenomenal job and they’re kicking ass on tour.

Premier Guitar: You got your start as a session player. How did you break into the scene?

John 5: I was just a guitar player around L.A. looking for work and I didn’t know what people charged for sessions. I was like, “I guess $100.” Meanwhile, people were charging, like, $1,500 a track. So I would do everything for half the price everybody else was doing it for and I would do it in half the time just because I didn’t know. And so I got a reputation — everybody was like, “Hey, this guy will do this really cheap and he’s really good.”

Premier Guitar: You’re now an established A-lister. What’s the secret to scoring the big gigs at this level? It’s safe to assume that anyone called in for a high-profile audition is also a monster guitarist who can play the required parts flawlessly.

John 5: You have to really know the songs. In addition to all the guitar parts, I would learn the keyboard parts and I would practice and practice. I did so much research. I would just be so prepared, it was ridiculous. I would find out what guitars were played for certain gigs and what kind of clothes they wore. Because it wasn’t enough to just know the songs. You have to have the look and you have to play the right kind of guitar. If you’re going to go audition for THE ALLMAN BROTHERS, you’re not going to go up there with crazy makeup on your face.

Read the entire interview from Premier Guitar.


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