Rob Zombie guitarist John 5 recently sat down with Premier Guitar to talk about his upcoming solo album ‘God Told Me To’ and to give a few pointers on how to make it in the cutthroat music industry. A couple of excerpts from the chat can be read below.
After already releasing five solo records, the highly esteemed axeman decided it was time to mix things up and began writing the half electric, half acoustic album that would become ‘God Told Me To.’ John 5 said the ending result was nothing short of an evolution of his sound. “I think it is… I’m dabbling in some Spanish style music on this one—some different acoustic types of playing like knocking on the guitar and creating rhythms, and using the violin bow. I’m also using the mandolin and all sorts of crazy stuff,” he said.
With John 5 the message is clear, expect the unexpected. “I want to make every album special, so people aren’t like, ‘Oh, here’s another John 5 album. It’s going to be a little country and a little rock.’ I want to keep them on their toes so they never know what they’re going to get.”
Before he was selling out headlining tours with the likes of Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie, John 5 was cutting his teeth as a session guitarist. “I was just a guitar player around L.A. looking for work and I didn’t know what people charged for sessions. I was like, ‘I guess $100,’ meanwhile people were charging like $1,500 a track.”
John 5 explained that it was this generosity coupled with his ability that got him the reputation, which would eventually lead to a successful career in music. “I would do everything for half the price everybody else was doing it for and I would do it in half the time just because I didn’t know. And so I got a reputation—everybody was like, ‘Hey, this guy will do this really cheap and he’s really good.’”
Even as an established and sought after musician, John 5 has had to endure the process of trying out for various big-name acts like Rob Zombie. He gave a few pointers on how to best prepare for a big audition. “You have to really know the songs. In addition to all the guitar parts, I would learn the keyboard parts and I would practice and practice. I did so much research. I would just be so prepared it was ridiculous. I would find out what guitars were played for certain gigs and what kind of clothes they wore. Because it wasn’t enough to just know the songs. You have to have the look and you have to play the right kind of guitar. If you’re going to go audition for The Allman Brothers, you’re not going to go up there with crazy makeup on your face.”