Born John Lowery, the Grosse Point, Michigan, native was dubbed John 5 upon meeting Marilyn Manson. To say that this guitarist has worked with everyone is a gross understatement. He currently resides in Rob Zombie’s camp, while moonlighting with everyone from Filter to Rob Halford to Lynyrd Skynyrd. Aside from being far beyond driven, John 5 is in popular demand, because his versatility as a player knows no boundaries. With Marilyn Manson, he clinched the world stage as a goth/industrial six-string slayer, but time has seen John 5 deliver four solo instrumental albums that are meticulous as well as thought-provoking across all genres.
Requiem is his latest. Five spoke to the Aquarian whilst working on the new Rob Zombie release.
You have some surprising songs on Requiem. For example, ‘Pity Belt’ and ‘Pear Anguish’ are mostly blues and country sounding.
Well, I love playing different styles. You know there are tons and tons of shredders, and things like that, but I wanted to do something a little different, so I incorporated different styles of music. Like blue grass, and country and things like that, which not a lot of other heavy metal guitar players have done. I think about everything before I do something, and I thought, ‘Well, how will I get looked at and taken seriously?’ I did something completely different that no one has done, because I didn’t want to be another guitar player thrown in the pile. I love it, too. I just really, really enjoy playing those styles.
Speaking of those kind of styles you hooked up with Lynyrd Skynyrd recently.
I was doing some writing with then and I just love those guys. They are a lot of fun; of course complete legends and just the nicest people. It was a true honor for me to write music with them.
How did the collaboration happen?
I have been doing a lot of work with people like Meatloaf and the Scorpions, and I think they heard about me, and then, also my publishing company got in touch with them, and it worked out really well.
The work you did on Filter’s Anthems For The Damned was excellent as well.
I have been friends with Richard Patrick [frontman] for a long time, and I love Filter and the Amalgamut and all their music. I think Richard is great, and he asked me if I would like to write and I said, ‘Absolutely, I would love to.’ We just wrote a few tunes, and they were smoking, I really like those songs. I think Richard is awesome, so it was a really fun thing for me.
What is the process like when you first meet an artist that wants to work with you? How do you interpret what they are looking for?
Well, actually it’s just like anything else you know. Of course there is that wow factor, you walk into a room and you get to meet one of your heroes. I do my homework; it’s just like anything else. Luckily, all the people that I have worked with, I know a great deal about their body of work, so I am very familiar with what they want. What they have done in the past is usually what they want, something like that. It’s all research, like listening to what progressions they like to write in, what keys they like to write in, what kind of style they like. It’s all research, just like if you are going in for a new job, you want to do as much research as possible so you come in prepared, and I have had pretty good luck so far.