John 5: The concept is the love of the guitar, the love of music. I do it not for the money, but just for the true passion for the guitar. If I didn't do it, I'd probably go insane, that's why the title is "Songs For Sanity". I play so much guitar and it's the only way I can express myself on guitar, I can't really do it on other recordings. I love to play guitar like that and that's why I do these records. Playing guitar keeps me sane. I know it sounds a little corny, but it's absolutely the truth.
John 5: It kind of reminds me of little orchestra or classical pieces, because there's so much information going on. It's a challenge to do, it's really hard to do that stuff. I always loved to learn and I really enjoy learning new licks, scales, tricks and ideas.
John 5: Yes, because it's a bigger challenge. It's like three or four minutes of guitar solos and it can't be repetitive and it's got to be new and exciting, it's gotta be good. Vocal music is also challenging, but it's easier, because you play chords and things like that, but in instrumental music you never even get the chance to breathe.
John 5: Yes, it's very difficult to play, it's very challenging, but that's why I love it.
John 5: Yes, I love being precise and very clean, I think that's very important.
John 5: I think it needs to have a melody, something you can graft onto, something the ear can graft onto, like a little melody in the chorus. You have to keep it exciting and things moving and happening, so the listener doesn't get bored. If you do a fast song, you got to do your best and take it to the next level and go crazy with it. You have to keep the listener excited and entertained. Kind of like a movie, a beginning and an end. It's got to tell some kind of story at least.
John 5: Sometimes it's a movie or a piece of art or another guitar player. I love to hear great musicians and I love to see great art. Like the cover of my album. I was looking through this old book from the 1900's and somebody was levitating two chairs and I thought: There's a good idea for an album cover, but with 2 guitars. I just love to be inspired by great things.
John 5: I usually start with a riff or a concept like: I want to do a really heavy song, like a Slayer or Slipknot type song or a Chet Atkins type song and really take it from there. To make an instrumental song is a lot harder than most people think.
John 5: Yes, I put a melody over the riff and structure out my verse, my pre-chorus and my chorus.
John 5: That's a great question. What I do is: When I get the idea, I have a little click track and just play it and play it over and over again until it's really good. When I get into the studio, I don't have to waste the engineer's time, I'll just go in and play it. I don't build it in the studio.
John 5: No, I don't, because I would always be there.
John 5: I think that's why people enjoy it, because it is different from your everyday instrumental album. It takes the listener to a different place, it's got good production on it, a different sense of cool sound effects and moody things. It also sometimes gives the listener a second to breathe.
John 5: If I want to express myself in a weird moody way or make weird sound effects with guitars, I try to come up with emotion through music. It's sometimes really hard to do a very scary kind of vibe only with guitar sounds.
John 5: Oh no. Before I was in MM, I was a huge fan of weird industrial things and also of Marylin Manson, Nine Inch Nails. I was way into it a long time ago.
John 5: I think, when I was really young, all I wanted to be was Eddie Van Halen. I really wanted to play with David Lee Roth, that was my dream and I did. Just to play with my idols and my legends. I just got a chance to work with Paul Stanley from Kiss and that was phenomenal, because I'm such a great Kiss fan.
I had great experiences with all of them, they're all different, but luckily I didn't have any problems. With KD Lang I learned so much about country music and with Marylin Manson I learned so much about recording. The best tour that I've ever done was with Rob Zombie.
John 5: To become a successful sideman nowadays, you have to have a lot of things. You have to know the songs inside out, you have to have the look, you have to have the sounds. If I was gonna out for a gig with - let's say Gun's and Roses, which I'm not, I'm just giving an example. I would go: Well, this is how they sound, I would need a Les Paul and a Marshall, I would need to look like them, kinda dirty, a jeans/t-shirt vibe. I would learn the songs, get some live recordings, see how they tune their guitars, see which arrangements they do live.
John 5: No, that's just half the battle. You gotta go in looking like you're a part of the family.
John 5: I think I go up there and make the artist sound good. I'm not a player to say: Look at how good I am, I'm up there to say: Look at how good the band or the artist sounds. You gotta be a team player, I'm not up there playing a bunch of solos, I'm playing for the song and make sure the artist is very happy.
John 5: I think it's important. If you wanna be a rock star or a successful musician, nowadays visual is so important. If you walk into a party and look like a regular guy, everyone doesn't really care, but if you walk in with tattoos and bleached hair, people will take a second glance at you. When I was a kid, when a successful rock star came in, I was like: Wow, look at that guy, that's what I want to be. But not when a guy came in that looked like he could work at the place.
John 5: It's inspiring to upcoming musician to look at friends and go: Oh my god, look at that guy, that guy looks like a star. When Marylin Manson walks in, he looks out of the ordinary. It's entertainment, it influences younger people.
John 5: The music first off. I loved what he had to say and that he was odd and mysterious, but when I joined the band, what really drew me in was he was real. It wasn't fake or a show, it was completely real.
John 5: Absolutely. You can learn always learn something from anybody. I learned a great deal from being in Manson's band.
John 5: I would say it was probably Kiss. They were a big part of my youth. Jimi Hendrix and seeing people like that was crazy to me and I automatically wanted to play guitar.
John 5: I can, Kiss' "Love Gun". I was 7 years old and started playing right away.
John 5: I started taking lessons at this place called Fiddlers at this place in Crossport, Michigan. It's actually a song title on my new CD. I wanted to learn songs that I liked and that's what made me keep practicing guitar. Learning a Kiss song made me want to play guitar all the time.
John 5: Forever. I still do.
John 5: I do both. I like to read music, but I like to play by ear, too.
John 5: Yes, definitely. It's very important, because if you go to a session and don't know how to do that, you're in trouble.
John 5: They're great, it's phenomenal. Any way people can get educated, I'd say: Go for it.
John 5: It's what the person wants to do. If you want to become a successful musician, you need to learn to play the guitar really well and then you go after your dream.
John 5: I think it's interesting especially to guitar players. It gives the listener a way to say: Wow, here's a different style of music that sounds really cool.
John 5: Oh yes, absolutely. I ljust love different styles of music, it keeps it exciting.
John 5: I like the major sound, the major scale and major third. I think that makes it sound exciting, a different sound than metal and it's also ripping! Those country guys are ripping! They are just melting those frets, guys like Scotty Anderson and Brent Mason. It's like shredding in a different style of music.
John 5: I just love the aggressive sound of it and the angry tone, just how it makes me feel.
John 5: I always listened to country music early on, but I started to play it around 1996, when I was with KD Lang. It's a completely different way of playing guitar, fingerpicking, banjo rolls, string skipping, double stops and pedal steel bends, it's completely different. And that was what I liked about it, because I was doing all this tapping and arpeggio stuff and I thought: Wow, this is a really cool way of playing guitar.
John 5: I'd say Chet Atkins, Doc Watkins, Brent Mason, Scotty Anderson, people like that.
John 5: Oh yeah, I just love it, I'm a fan of the music!
John 5: I think when I released "Vertigo", my first instrumental album, that was a shock. It wasn't just metal, there was crazy bluegrass on it! And people said: Oh my god, listen to this, I don't know, if I like it, but listen to this. It sold so many copies and did really well, people liked it. I haven't got any complaints yet, people enjoyed it.
John 5: Good question. I got a call from James Burton, the famous guitar player, who played with Elvis and all these famous country guys and Albert Lee and they all liked what I did. Albert Lee got on my record and he is one of the most appreciated country guitar players in the world. He really enjoyed what I did and that made me feel great!
John 5: I did an autograph session and there were so many older men their, country fans and that made me feel great. It wasn't just a bunch of goth kids, which I love, they're my people, but this time I had some older gentlemen there, who just wanted to meet me and say hello.
John 5: I try to mix. I throw in double stops or banjo rolls, when I play metal and it makes it sound unique or different and cool, a little out of the ordinary. I try to throw in a major scale in a minor mode.
John 5: That's a little easier. I can do crazy tappings in a country song and it totally works.
John 5: I mostly use my John 5 model, but I also use old Telecasters. I'm a big collector of old vintage Teles.
John 5: I used a lot of Marshalls, but also some old Fender Champs from the '50s, an old Fender Harvard to get that nice traditional sound.
John 5: I used a Marshall Mode Four with Rob Zombie and they're killer!
John 5: I use many different pedals. With Rob Zombie I used a distortion, a chorus, a noise suppressor and a wah and that was it. I use pedals, because I feel like I'm more in control. If something doesn't sound right, I can bend down and be down.
John 5: I wanted a guitar that was an all around guitar, something that I can use for a country gig and a metal gig. I love the Telecaster, so I wanted a Telecaster that I could play in a really heavy gig, like Manson or Zombie. The John 5 telecaster is like the perfect beast for that, you can play "Beautiful People" or pure country songs too.
John 5: Both. It looks great and sounds great. I use it on every recording.
John 5: You can't play really heavy stuff on the vintage guitars, because the pickups aren't strong enough. I don't change anything on the old guitars, I just keep them stock. Nothing is refinished or refretted, everything is original except the strings.
John 5: Usually I would lay down a rhythm track and play to that, but some of the country songs we played as a band.
John 5: I work out most of the parts and the solos, too. I don't want to repeat myself and play too many of the same licks. That happens a lot, when you're jamming, you just play your favorite licks.
John 5: Digital, because I've been using it for so long. Drums sound really good analog.
John 5: Yes, for harmonies and things like that. There's always cool things and sounds to do.
John 5: I do things with other musicians, but it's truly for the love of music, I always love to work and work.
John 5: It's great rock 'n' roll songs with a great singer. I think it's going to be real big. We got a record deal on Island records. Our CD will be out next year. We're doing shows around town right now.
John 5: It is to keep making music, keep making records, enjoy life and keep playing guitar.
John 5: I go to movies a lot and hang out with my friends a lot. But I usually play guitar.
John 5: Yes, absolutely.