Mayhem Music Magazine conducted our interview with Guitarist John 5 in two parts. The first half consists of our sit down with J5 to find out more about the man behind the music, how he came to LA, his signature series Fender Telecaster, and what inspires this guitar virtuoso.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  How supportive was your family when you decided to leave Michigan at 17 to pursue your dreams as a musician and move to LA?

John 5:  They were very supportive because of the fact I didn’t drink or smoke. They were fine with it. They knew I wasn’t going to just come here and party and stuff like that. They knew I needed to give it a shot in the music business.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  When you came out, did you come out alone?

John 5:  I drove out with the drummer from Megadeth. His name is Chuck Behler. He’s on the ‘So Far, So Good… So What’ album and we drove out together. He’d already lived in LA but he came with me. I got a place with some friends and just never went back.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  Most players find a musician they admire and want to replicate. I always want to know what players influenced that person. Who influenced you?

John 5:  I had epiphanies like Eddie Van Halen, Ace Frehley, Yngwie (Malmsteen), Steve Vai. All those guys really influence me and I’m always still looking for inspiration. I love being inspired. That’s the thing I get most excited about is being inspired.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  Are there any new players that inspire you or that you respect?

John 5:  You know what? I’ll listen to everybody. I respect everybody that’s doing it because it is a tough business to get into. I can appreciate something from every guitar player.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  What challenges you more as a player, playing in a band line up like Zombie, Manson Lee Roth or playing as a solo artist?

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John 5:  It’s all very difficult. I take everything very seriously. Maybe the hotels are a little bit better than other things but that’s the only difference. If it’s a club or its an arena I take it just as serious as anything else.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  Is there a musician or artist that you’ve always wanted to jam with?

John 5:  I love you know a Beatle like Paul McCartney or Ringo Starr. Mick Jagger or Kieth Richards or Prince. Any of those guys I really love buy I couldn’t be happier in Zombie that’s for sure. If I get to play a solo on one of those guys records or something that would be great.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  What bands or artists would we find on your ipod?

John 5:  I love music. I don’t have any guilty pleasures because everything is a pleasure. I’m not guilty of anything but loving great music. Anything from Dixie Chicks to Die Antwoord to Slayer to Slipknot. So it’s a wide range of music. Everything’s on there.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  If you have a vinyl record collection, what would we find in there?

John 5:  Joni Mitchell ‘Blue’, I love Joni Mitchell. Kiss, Van Halen, all that stuff. Crosby Stills & Nash, The Eagles. You know what I really like is that southern California sound. That kind of stuff I really dig.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  Do you ever pull out the vinyl?

John 5:  No. It’s so much easier with an ipod. You can’t roll around town in the car with a record player that’s for sure.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  You have your John 5 Signature Edition Fender Telecaster Guitar. You also released a Fender Squier J5 signature Telecaster. Why did you put out the Squier version?

John 5:  I wanted a guitar that was easy for the public to buy and It’s such a great guitar.  This is something I would love as a kid. I always use the example is….me as a kid, if I would want this. It’s a very inexpensive guitar for a great product. Fender makes such amazing guitars. They did a great job on this Squier version on the John 5 Telecaster. Really an amazing sounding guitar. It’s road worthy and tough as nails. It sounds great and looks great too.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  Tell us about the specific modifications you requested that made this Telecaster unique?

John 5:  I like the double humbucker (pick ups) so you can get up on stage and play it super loud. You won’t have any feedback or any interference or anything like that. I love the gold pick guard, you know the metal pick guard. I like the toggle switch up here. It’s just comfortable for me. I love the double binding because I love the Telecaster customs from the sixties. Rosewood fingerboard, man it’s just my favorite guitar. It really is. I love it.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  Has it always been?

John 5:  Always, ever since I was a little kid watching Hee Haw. They all played Telecasters. I thought the electric guitar was just shaped like this. I didn’t think there was any other shapes. In my mind this was it.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  When can we expect new music with you and Rob?

John 5:  We have a live record coming out February twenty fourth. New music will be coming very soon and this new record is a monster. I’m telling you, I’m a Zombie fan and it is the greatest Rob Zombie record there has been. It is just incredible.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  Have you already laid the tracks?

John 5:  Everything’s done. We just mixed it so I don’t know when it’s going to come out but it is a monster. It is so good, I am so excited for it.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  What is life like outside of music for John 5?

John 5:  Wife, kids, movies, playing guitar. That’s it. I just love my Universal monster movies. The family and I just love pickin’, and that’s it. A great life too.

At this point we break into the second half of our interview focusing on his first instrumental solo the tour with his band John 5 & The Creatures.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  You are an incredible technician on guitar. This time around, how did you challenge yourself with your latest solo album ‘Careful With That Axe’?

John 5:  I love to challenge myself each time. Learning new things and pushing the boundaries with songs like “Jiffy Jam” and “Jerry’s Breakdown” and “This Is My Rifle”. It makes it interesting to me and going for a different style of music like a song called “El Cucuy”. I love to learn, that’s my favorite thing to do. I love learning new things.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  How much do you feel your playing has changed from your first solo album ‘Vertigo’ until now?

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John 5:  I think it has changed quite a bit. With ‘Vertigo’, which is one of my favorite cds, I was going very melodic. Now I sometimes fell I just go so crazy, which is really a lot of fun. I think I have improved a lot. I am always improving and I’m always pushing myself. I am never going to be content with myself.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  With you constantly touring and recording with Rob Zombie, how did you find time to write and record ‘Careful With That Axe’?

John 5:  It’s really what I love to do. I love to play guitar. There’s a lot of hours in the day and I always have a guitar in my hand. I take advantage of that time and really just play all the time. When I’m sitting around watching tv or something, I’ll write some riffs and pretty soon I have these songs. That’s how I do it.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  What is your process from writing a song to recording it?

John 5:  What I’ll do is come up with a song and I’ll rehearse it by myself so much with a click track. I’ll go over and over and over it and then I’ll go into the studio and have it so prepared and so ready that I’ll just knock it out in a couple hours.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  Although you are known as a rock guitarist, you have always shown your versatility with songs like Sweet Georgia Brown on Vertigo to El Cucuy on the new album. Where did the love for other music genres come from?

John 5:  I grew up watching that show “Hee Haw”. I love Buck Owens and Roy Clark and guitar players like Joe Maphis and Chet Atkin. I really enjoy that kind of music as well. I think its great for these rock listeners and audience to hear this different style of music. There is more than one style of music out there and its very important for people to explore other types of music.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  John 5 & the Creatures are hitting the road in February to support the release of ‘Careful With That Axe’. Tell us about your touring band and how the members were chosen.

John 5:  The Creatures is Rodger Carter on drums and I’ve known Rodger most of my life. Just a monster drummer and he’s played on pretty much almost all of my instrumental records. A track here and there but he played all the drums on ‘Careful With That Axe’. He’s the guy I had to use. I was looking for a bass player because the bass playing on the record I done by Matt Bissonette who tours with Elton John. The bass playing is so crazy so I need a great bass player. So I went to MI (Musicians Institute) and auditioned like twenty guys and Ian (Ross) was the best of the batch. He is a phenomenal bass player and he’s had a lot of fun doing it.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  Have you already laid out the set list for the tour?


John 5:  I have and it’s a really great set list. I think people are going to have a lot of fun with it. It’s a lot of songs from almost all the records. We’re gonna have a lot of cool things going on. I also have a really special Meet & Greet that is going on. You get all the stuff. You get the shirt, an 8×10, picture together, all that stuff but you also get to watch sound check. Which I always think is a really cool thing. You also get a bottle of my John 5 soda, which is a rarity. People are excited about it.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  During the show, will we get to hear songs like “Jerry’s Breakdown” or any flamenco work?

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John 5:  You’ll hear all sorts of stuff. I think people with be pleasantly surprised.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  You plan on recording the show at The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on February 12th for a live album. Is a John 5 live album something you’ve always wanted to do?

John 5:  Yeah, I have so many records out so I’m thinking I might as well do a live record. The band is so amazing. I’ve never done one and I have so many instrumental records. I’ve never done a live record because I’ve never played live. I thought it would be a great time to do that and people from all over the world can enjoy the show who aren’t able to get to the show. So I thought it might be a great time to do that.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  I know that you are booked from California, to Texas, and to Arizona. Are any dates expanding to the East Coast?

John 5:  I think they will. I think it all has to do with scheduling with Zombie. My first priority is Rob Zombie. I just have to check with scheduling and see how we’re looking in the world of Zombie.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  Are you planning to have any guest musicians join you in any cities on the tour?

John 5: Yes! I am. I’m glad you asked. I am going to have someone come up at The Whiskey and play with me. These are my hints. He’s a bass player in a legendary rock band and he was known for amazing back up vocals. (it was former Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony)

Mayhem Music Magazine:  Anyone set up for the San Francisco show?

John 5:  I love San Francisco. I want to move there. I just love that place. That’s one of the places I really look forward to visiting and hanging out at. I’ve been there a zillion times. I love it so much and I really do want to move there. I think it’s such an amazing place. Maybe I’ll see what musician friends of mine will be up there.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  Anything your fans should know about the tour or the album?

John 5:  Come out to the show because it’s going to be a special night and have a good time.


The John 5  Interview originally ran in Mayhem Music Magazine Vol. 5 No.1 which can be viewed Here 


We hope you enjoyed this interview with John 5.  Be sure to check back for more music interviews.

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