John 5

July 23, 2004

I put your CD into my CD player because I had some friends over and we wanted to listen to some music. I didn't tell them who it was. They were so totally amazed at how someone could take so many different styles of music from industrial to metal to country and incorporate all that on one CD. Is this music you listened to growing up that influenced what you do today?

Yeah, this is what really perked me up. The country stuff for instance, which is so unusual, is what perked me up when I first started being interested in music. I was around six. I started playing guitar around seven. What really grabbed my interest enough where I was like "oh my God", my parents would listen to it and I was really intrigued by it because I saw this little boy playing on a TV show and he was around probably my age and he was so good. I was like "I want to do that." Then I got into KISS and Van Halen and stuff so that country stuff took a back seat but it was always in the back of my mind. When I was on tour with K.D. Lang in '96, we had a fiddle player on tour with us who also played lap steel and fiddle and mandolin. He was a multi instrumentalist because he was from a country background so that triggered that thing in the back of my brain where I was intrigued by this country music. Then I started really studying hard since '96 on this country music because it's so interesting to me. K.D. Lang and David Lee Roth and Rob Halford and Marilyn Manson, I always studied it. I was always studying it back stage or in the studio. Things like that. Also with the rock stuff because I was playing with all these other artists. I guess I grew this fondness for it and always just went off and played and studied and then I was in New York just this last summer and played with Les Paul. I came in and I had lipstick on and I was all freaked out. Les Paul is 88 and I played him some of those old songs, country songs, and he was so impressed. He said the world needs to hear these. I put together this album where I have all the things that I really love music wise. I have the really heavy stuff and I have the heavy country stuff and I just put everything I love on one record and tried to make it not boring. Where it's not necessarily boring but I tried to make it as interesting as possible.

It definitely got a lot of different reactions. The country stuff got some giggles but overall it was considered to be a really great CD. That's when I told them it was John 5 from Marilyn Manson which prompted the question of how he could let go of such a dynamic guitarist. What's up with that?

I think we were both just ready to do different things. It was completely amicable and we were just ready to move in different directions. He knew I wanted to and I knew he wanted to. It wasn't bad at all and we're not against each other. We're totally friends still and everything is completely fine. I really wanted to pursue other things as well.

What attracted you to playing with him in the first place?

I was a huge, huge Manson fan. I was on tour with K.D. Lang and I was listening to Manson all the time. This was in '96 when he was just really big and I was really into it. I read every interview and I was really just a crazy, crazy Manson fan. Then I joined Rob Halford who was on Nothing/Interscope which was John Malm's label who was with Trent Reznor. Trent Reznor signed Marilyn Manson so it was all this little family. I was like okay and I was playing with Halford and everything was going great. Manson lost their guitar player and when I got off tour with Halford, my phone was ringing when I walked in the door from the tour. I answered it and it was Marilyn Manson's manager because they were looking for a guitar player. I picked up the phone and he asked me if I wanted to go meet Manson for lunch. They were looking for a guitar player. I said absolutely and I was already such a big fan and I knew the songs and I was familiar with it. It was a perfect opportunity.

I remember when Manson first came out. I'm a little bit older and I grew up on Cooper, KISS, and Sabbath so I've been there, done that, and bought the T-shirt. I thought his shit was cute but what is it about that guy and his band that fucks people up and rocks their world in a positive or negative direction?

That's a great question and a lot of people say Alice Cooper, KISS, and all that but once you get to know Manson...everybody says it's silly or cute or something like that. Marilyn Manson is the most real artist, even more real than a lot of people, because the most questions I always get from fans is, is he really like this. What is he really like? I'll tell you, he is more real because Alice Cooper after the show goes play golf or something like that which is great. It's therapeutic for him and that's what he loves to do. Nothing against that. KISS, they're smart businessmen. Manson is one of those artists who is so real. His mind is so brilliant that it affects how he is. It's so hard to describe. All I can say is he is the real deal. Once I got to know him and saw what he's really like, it made me like him even so much more because I was like this guy is really insane. The first time I met him, he took the picture of me on the inside of Mechanical Animals in the album. It was hot this day and he was going to take the picture and he took his shirt off because it was hot. He had thousands of scars all over his chest just from cutting himself on stage. Something horrible is in his mind if he's really doing that. He is frail. Just run your hand over his chest and it's frail. Just big, big scars. The guy is completely the real deal and that's what really makes me like him even more.

I've seen him perform twice. The first time was a few years back when a friend of mine was reviewing his show. I nearly fell asleep during the performance. Every time the guy left the stage, the whole auditorium was silent. You could hear a pin drop. The next time I saw him was at Ozzfest. I was totally intrigued. He held my interest. He has really grown as an artist and has changed a whole lot.

Isn't that great to see someone evolve? You had the pleasure to see him early just like KISS. When they started out, they had nothing. But now, oh my God. What if you saw KISS in '73 in a bar and you're like "oh yeah, I'm going to see this KISS band again" and it's today. You'd be like "ah, oh my God." It's just the pleasure of seeing something evolve like that.

Yeah, I thought that was so amazing.

Yeah, that's great. What a great story.

Someone got me a copy of The Golden Age Of Grotesque and I love industrial music. This is some good shit. Was this one of the albums you played on?

I played on that. I first came into the band right at the end of Mechanical Animals which was '98. Then I did Last Tour On Earth which was a live album for that tour, the Mechanical Animals tour. Then I did I did the Holy Wood album. Then I did The Golden Age Of Grotesque. I've done tons and tons and tons of recordings.

You remind me a lot of Steve Vai and Yngwie Malmsteen. I've noticed that guys like that almost invariably wind up going from a band situation into a solo situation. Do you feel that being in a band situation limits your creativity?

No. Great questions, by the way. What I want to do is, for instance like Manson, sometimes it's not that kind of band where there's a lot of solos. It's the same if I was in Garbage or something like that. You're not going to hear a lot of solos and that's fine. I love that music but there's just not a lot of guitar solos in that kind of music. So when I started doing this, because I love instrumental music as well, I'm doing this and I'm also doing a band called Loser which is more of a rock radio type of band with a singer and all that. There are no guitar solos because it's that kind of rock radio type of band. You don't hear solos nowadays. Luckily I get to get my ya-yas out in doing instrumental music now as well as doing a band with a singer. I'm getting the pleasure to do the best of both worlds.

You've completed Vertigo. Tell us a bit about the album.

I started recording it when I got off tour in January. I'm such a workaholic. I don't sleep that much and I just wanted to do it. I worked every day on it and just started recording songs and playing with people and just creating it and finishing it in about two months. Then I just started recording more music and the producer said that I had 30 songs here and let's put this all together. The album was pretty much finished. I was still in Manson and I already had this record finished but I didn't know what to do with it. Once everything fell apart in Manson, I was like okay, I'm going to put this out. Everything has been happening so fast. The album is so fresh to me and to a lot of people, the artwork is finished but none of the reviewers and a lot of the people that are doing interviews don't even have the artwork because it all came together so quickly. Which I really enjoy because I love having something turn around so fast. Like a lot of albums, the records will be recorded and mixed and all finished and then you have to wait three or four months for it to come out. With this, we just finished it and it's coming out on August 31 so it was a really quick process and I'm very proud of it. It's very difficult to do an instrumental album because there's so much information and I don't like to have things sound the same. That's how it all came together.

I think one of the difficult things about instrumental albums is you have to basically figure out a way to hold a person's interest because those things can get boring at times.

You're absolutely right. You couldn't be more correct. That's absolutely right. I wanted to make myself the listener and to feel the devil's advocate where I'm like alright, am I going to keep my interest. That's why I don't make the songs too long. You'll look at the songs and you'll see that I don't think any of them are really...they're right around 3:30. Three minutes type thing. I just don't want it boring. If you don't like it, another song a whole different style is coming at you in three minutes. That was the one thing because even I, and I love instrumental music, I get a little bored sometimes and it's so hard to keep people's interest nowadays. People are so jaded because they've heard the greatest of the greatest of the greatest and they're like "okay, I've heard this and I'm bored." That's what I tried not to do. I just tried to mix it so much that I really put out a great record of great melodies and great guitar work.

Some of it was covers and some of it was stuff you wrote yourself.

Yeah, some of the country stuff, I thought this all out. The rock stuff I did right away. They understand it because I love it. I'm like how can I do country stuff where people would think it sounds familiar. A lot of people don't like country music but it'll sound familiar and it'll give them a little interest. Like "Sweet Georgia Brown". I think we all know that song from the Harlem Globe Trotters. A lot of people know that song. I used old country songs and really beefed them up and just put them on there. That's the way I like to hear them. I'd like to hear them like if you're in a bar and I'm playing these songs, it's going to be a dangerous bar where you're going to get either stabbed or punched in the face or something like that. It's that type of record.

One of the songs I really dug was the last one, "Good Night", where it had that narration on it.

It's true. I have terrible, terrible insomnia. I can never sleep. I remember there was this preacher. He was always at our Manson shows and he would preach and I would just listen to him. Like out in the bus, I'd crack the window so I could listen to him and he would say "the Devil is inside you. You cannot sleep. The Devil's keeping you awake." Alll this crazy, crazy stuff and he was always at our shows preaching. I can never sleep and that's why I work so much. I put this song together at the end of the record because my life is so crazy so that was the last song on the record. That song saying this is why I can't sleep and hopefully I'm going to sleep. That's the only song that will make you go hmmm, finally. It's a breath of fresh air. It's just this weird, crazy song that I came up with because I do have insomnia and this preacher would always follow us around and talk about the Devil keeping you awake and all this crazy stuff. It's just a great way to end the record I think.

I remember the first time I went to see Manson and we came out of the arena, all these people were walking around with picket signs. Then at Ozzfest there were a handful and I always wondered if these people realize that by giving someone so much attention, that they actually drive folks into the arms of Manson.

I think they do. Here's what I think about that. I think that people and they're always in these small towns. They're always maybe somewhere in Kansas or somewhere in smaller towns and they're never really in big cities. I think unfortunately these people are very religious and they're like "that Manson is coming to our town." I think that they're so bored at home that they're like "I'm going to go out there and preach the word of God." I think they're so bored in their lives just going to church every day which they feel great about. There's nothing wrong with that but I think that they're so bored in their daily lives that they're like "I'm going to go down there and speak the word of God." You never see it in New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, or any place like that because people are busy. They're like "ah man, I haven't got time for Manson. Whatever. Who cares? I have to get to work." That's what I think. I could be totally wrong.

I live in Dallas and it's in the heart of the Bible Belt. We have crazy shit like that going on here. I'm totally amused at all the attention this guy gets and I remember as a kid Cooper and KISS getting the same attention. I wonder if these people ever come up with new material. It's like a broken record and I guess when I'm 70 years old and someone else comes along, it'll be the same thing.

It's pretty weird, but I could be totally wrong about the people that are outside trying to stop the show.

Are you going to be touring for your CD?

It depends on if it's the right tour. I don't want to go on a tour that's really not going to benefit me. Just from experience and I know what's going to be worth my time but if I go with Steve Vai or Damage Plan or Black Label Society, I would do that. I just want to make sure that it's something that's going to be the right tour for me to do. I don't want to go out on some tour where I'm playing in some teeny place where there's only going to be a handful of people that's going to get in. If I'm going to tour, I want to do it the right way and have it promoted the right way. We'll see. We're going to see how the album comes out of the box. I think it's going to do really well because I'm getting a lot of great reviews and a lot of great interviews. I think it's going to do really well.

Any other thoughts or comments?

I just hope that you enjoy the record and everybody enjoys it. I thank you for taking the time out. Great questions.

John 5