JOHN 5 AT AFTERSHOCK
I caught up with John 5 at the Aftershock festival in Sacramento just before he and Rob Zombie put on a mind-blowing performance featuring ghoulish backdrops and a killer guitar solo spanning across several genres over the course of a few minutes.
So how are you?
I’m well. I’ve just been doing these shows and this will be the last part of …the tour, and then we’re going to finish the new Zombie record, and Rob’s going to do a new movie. I’m going to be doing the soundtrack with him on the movie, 31.
How long have you been on tour?
I don’t know. A long time. I love being at home; I do a lot of recording when I’m home. When I’m home too long, I like to be on the road; when I’m on the road too long, I like to be home.
Are you excited to play Aftershock?
Oh yeah. Here’s the thing—not to give you stock answers—I love this part of the country, I love being in California. I’ve been all over the world a thousand times, but I love Northern California…It is a real treat to be here.
I just put out an instrumental record called Careful With That Axe, and I’m going to be doing a streaming concert as soon as I get off tour, and it’s this Pay-Per-View thing, and people can see it all over the world. We’re going to do three concerts: one for the States, one for Europe, and one for the Pacific Rim…and that’s on October 18th, so it’s going to be really cool.
Are you going to change how you perform to target the different audiences?
No, I’m just going to play my instrumental songs and do what I do. It’s the first time I’ve ever done anything like this. It’s going to be cool, and Chris Broderick from Megadeth is going to host it.
Where did the idea come from?
People ask me to tour, and I have no time to tour, so I just thought, oh, I’ll cover the world with just a few shows.
You have done seven solo albums, and you don’t really stay in just one genre. Where are you pulling all these influences from?
I just sit on the couch and I play. I love to just hang out and play guitar, play different styles. It’s just like eating the same food, you get tired of it and you need a variety. And that’s how I am with music, too.
Your parents supported you as a kid in music as long as you received a good education. Did that make you resent education?
Well, I would play these nightclubs, and I would get home really late. My mom would say, “As long as you get up for school the next day, you can do it.” So, I always did. I never dragged or smoked or anything, so she was very trusting. I would say it worked out really well, because here I am.
What is it like to work with other legendary people?
Some of my idols growing up are some of my greatest friends today, and it is really an honor to be a part of a certain bands’ history. If you’re writing songs and music with them, it’s great. It’s a real honor. And it’s weird sometimes, cause you’re thinking, I had this guy’s posters on my wall when I was young and now I’m writing a song with him. I never wished it when I was a little kid—my dreams never went that far. I just wanted to be a session musician. It’s incredible, it really is a dream come true.
The album that you recorded with your band 2wo (two), have you ever thought about releasing them?
I never really did. It’s the same with Loser [band he formed from 2005-06]. I didn’t ever even think about it, really. I had this choice to continue on with Loser or join Rob Zombie, and I think I made the right choice. Ten years later, it’s the greatest thing I’ve ever done, being in the Zombie band. I wouldn’t change it for the world.
So you find that the people in Rob Zombie are just great people?
They are my brothers. I get offered all these things, but I would never do anything else but this.
How do record labels treat you?
I don’t deal with labels any more. I just do it all myself, and it’s probably the greatest decision I’ve ever made in my life. It’s unbelievable. I have never had as much money as I do now. Labels, they take eighty, eighty-five percent, and the artist gets nothing. It just been one of the smartest things I’ve ever done.
It was frightening, because my whole life I’d done everything through record labels, but I thought, Let me just try this and see what happens. And it just took off… To give you an example, a record label will give you an advance on a record, and then that’s really all. I’m still making money on one of the first albums I’ve ever done, so it’s just the right way to go.
What advice would you give a small, up-and-coming band who’s trying to do it themselves?
I would say to just try and get yourself out there as much as possible… Just get out there and play live. YouTube, social media, Facebook, that stuff is so useful… The most important one is TuneCore, it’s where you put your music on there, and ninety-nine percent of the [money] comes back to you. It’s great; TuneCore is incredible. They release your record and it goes all over the world.
If you could interview someone, some artist, who would it be?
I’d probably want to interview Eddie Van Halen. I know Ed, but I would like to interview him.
Zoe Adler is a music journalist from Long Beach, California. Besides her website, which is her pride and joy, she works with the GRAMMY Foundation and the Long Beach Independent. Additionally, Ms. Adler is a musician, spending half of her time playing the flute, piccolo, trombone, and marching baritone. She has been with TeenView Music since the very start and hopes to make something of it in the future.