John 5 is one of the hardest and perhaps most loyal working musicians out there. Between his solo career with John 5 and the Creatures and his role with Rob Zombie, he’s still working with other artists. As we were lucky to see the guitarist perform this past spring, John 5 has returned for another round of tour dates in support of his latest effort, Invasion (order here), as his fall tour kicked off just in time for Halloween. We recently caught up with John 5 to discuss the new album, his favorite horror films, living a sober life, and always staying busy.
How has the response been so far with the new album Invasion?
It’s been very positive, and I do read reviews. A lot of people don’t really care about them, which is fine, but I read them, and it’s been very positive, which is always a nice thing. Whenever I make my videos, it’s always been very positive. I am so thankful for that because this is truly coming from the heart, that’s for sure.
Between your solo career, working with Rob Zombie as well as working with other artists, how do you balance your time?
It is difficult; I’m not going to lie. I have to go hour by hour of what’s going on in my life. On top of what you just said, there are also day to day things that happen. You know, this or that or that or this. Just think of how busy you are with your day to day activities and then putting two very active bands on top of that. I go in sometimes in hour increments. I don’t get a lot of sleep, but that’s okay. I am happy with what I do, and thankful for what I do. It is hard to balance time, and I do my best. I guess communication is the number one key, especially with scheduling and doing things. If I have to do something, I’ll check with Rob and things like that.
I agree with you on communication; that is the key to many things. You’ve worked with nearly everyone across the musical spectrum from Katie Lang to Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson, Garbage, etc. Can you discuss some of the different processes, and is there an artist or genre that you are looking forward to working on with next?
Well, I work with people that I enjoy, that I am a fan of if you will. Anybody that comes along that I love and I’m a fan of, I’m excited about that. And that helps with the writing too because I’m educated on their catalog and educated on how they write and how they create and what keys they like to write in and what kind of vibe they like to write in. That’s what usually helps me get cuts with them is because of the fact I know their catalog, and I know how they like to make music because I study it so much. So anybody like that, that comes along, I’m excited for.
I did see that you work based off of the album, for how it’s supposed to sound on record versus doing your own thing for an artist.
Yeah. It’s foreign to artists that you usually have this thing called “target writing.” If I’m writing for Steve Perry, have something sound like Journey, but that’s not what he wanted. He didn’t want it sound anything thing like Journey. We talked a lot before we even wrote any music, and it worked out. Again, communication. That’s where that comes in again. It pays off when you have to communicate and know exactly what they want and what they’re looking for.
For the last two summers in a row, you’ve toured with both Zombie and Manson. Despite everybody’s history, it seems as though everyone has made peace with each other. With that said, how was this last run over the summer?
Oh, it was great. It’s true. I think everybody just grows up and you know, we’re all friends. I just saw Manson, and we were doing a show. It was Zombie, Manson, and Disturbed. We were in Kentucky, and I saw Manson talked with him, and everything couldn’t be better. He’s doing great too. He sounds awesome, and he’s got a new record coming out. I’m proud of him, and he’s doing so well. Everything’s great. I know that’s not what people want to hear in the news. They want to hear there’s bickering and things like that, but that’s not the case. Everything is going well.
That’s the vibe that I’ve seen since last year when the first tour was announced. It’s as though everyone just naturally made peace with each other, and it is what it is type of thing.
I wanted to ask you. I know that you’re sober. You’ve never done any drugs or drinking, right?
No, I never have.
This industry can get heavily involved in both alcohol and drug use. Recently, we’ve heard James Hetfield from Metallica had to re-enter for treatment. I wanted to know from somebody sober, what is your response to all of this? How have you managed to stay away from the substances being in the scene all of these years?
I don’t know. I just chose at a young age because everybody was drinking and doing all that stuff. I just decided not to do it. I don’t know. It was pretty easy. I guess it’s pretty easy if you never really tried it or started doing it. But I applaud anyone strong enough to say, “Hey, I want to go back to rehab” or “I want to go back to treatment” because it’s difficult. Addiction is a horrible disease, but I applaud anyone strong enough to go to treatment and get the help that they need to continue, because it never really ends.
No, it never does. That’s interesting because you never tasted it, the disease, there’s no need to even think about it. It’s admirable.
It’s just something that I luckily was never involved in, I just always chose to go the road less traveled, maybe, if you will.
It’s a healthier choice. Can you talk more about your KISS collection?
Everything stems from when you’re a child. It’s a comfort level. It’s nostalgia. That’s what eBay is around for; is for nostalgia. People are going, “I used to have this. I used to have that.” And in my case, it is KISS because that’s what got me started, and it was so comfortable to me as a kid. I had a very happy childhood, and I enjoyed all this stuff. For a hobby, since I don’t do drugs, drink, chase girls, or anything like that, you can only play so much guitar during the day. So what I do is, I started to collect things that I used to enjoy when I was a kid. It’s fun because it’s all the thrill of the hunt, you know? And that’s what makes it very fun. I think it’s a nice, healthy, not dangerous or harmful hobby. And that’s what I do. I have my little Instagram page called Knights in Satan’s Service, which that’s what they used to think KISS stood for. It’s a lot of fun. I post every day since January 1st of 2018, so I’ve never missed a day.
That’s a lot of commitment, and it sounds like a lot of fun, too.
Yeah, it is. It’s a lot of fun. I enjoy it, and it’s a fun hobby, again.
You’re going to be quite busy, and you already are. Between your headlining tour and next year with Queensrÿche, do you have any surprises on stage for fans such as different costumes or props that you’re planning on using?
Yeah, there are always surprises, and there are always things that are going to happen.
That’s what I like about seeing John 5 and The Creatures live. You guys always have randomness happening on stage while performing. I wanted to know since you’ve had quite the journey working with many different artists, is there a particular moment or word of advice you’ve heard over the years from somebody that you’re willing to share?
I’m like a sponge. I am. When I’m around people like Gene or Paul or Rob or Manson, and they’re talking business, I am listening, and I’m taking it all in. For sure. 100% yes. I’m always trying to listen. I learn every single day of what is going on., every single day. If they’re talking, I am listening, that’s for sure.
Can you name some of your favorite horror films?
I love the Universal ones, but the older Universal ones are my favorite — Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, Wolfman, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Invisible Man. But then I love the 70s ones- The Omen, The Shining, Carrie, Amityville Horror, that kind of stuff. Texas Chainsaw Massacre, you know, I love that. But now they’re coming out with some lately that are just incredible. It Follows or even the Annabelle movies or Insidious, I think those movies are phenomenal. I really do.
They’re the ones that made Universal if it wasn’t for horror films, who knows where Universal would be today.
That’s right. I agree. And they hold up.
Is there anything else you want to say or add?
Just come to the shows. Check out the shows online for tour dates because it’s going to be something very, very special.