John 5: He’s Rocked with Marilyn Manson, Alice Cooper, k.d. lang–and It’s all God’s Fault

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John 5 is proud of his work with Meat Loaf. It’s just not mentioned in the press release for his new God Told Me To album. Of course, it’s hard to list all the artists who’ve brought in the guitarist to liven up their sound. You’ve got Marilyn Manson, David Lee Roth, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Ricky Martin, Alice Cooper, k.d. lang, and plenty more. That’s a lot of ground to cover.

“Yeah,” says John from his L.A. studio, “I guess they could only list a certain amount of people. Does it say Scorpions, or Paul Stanley? I’ll tell you, I loved working with Meat Loaf. It was a big honor to be on a Bat Out of Hell album. I’ve been really lucky, because everybody I’ve worked with has been on projects that I’m very proud of. I really try my best to get to a session whenever I get a call. I’d love to work with Prince someday, and do even more things that are out in left field. I haven’t done a classical session yet. I’d like that a lot.”

Right now, John 5–known to his parents as John Lowery–is on the road playing guitar for Rob Zombie. The rock star/director needs that kind of back-up, since it’s a co-billing tour with Megadeth. John has also written the soundtrack to the upcoming Zombie film The Lords of Salem. You can hear how John got the job on God Told Me To. The instrumentals are an amazing mix of eerie blues, howling rock, and some spaghetti-western Cinemascope dramatics.

“I put a lot of time and effort into it,” says John. “Every song is like a little symphony to me. I have to put enough melody in there, you know? It can be tough to do with an instrumental song, to put everything together and make it perfect. I wanted the album to sound like an iPod shuffle. You never know what’s coming at you. Pantera one moment, and then Simon & Garfunkel. I mean, that’s why my iPod is like.”

The album’s twists even include John’s epic cover of “Beat It.” He’s not trying to be cool, or trying to goof on anything. (“I’m kind of paying tribute to Michael Jackson and Eddie Van Halen, but it was also a big part of my life.”) The revved-up pop hit is just another way that God Told Me To is an incredibly accessible album. As it turns out, even the creepy album title is meant to sound upbeat.

“That’s really about one of the very few times I went to church,” John explains. “When I was a kid, I’d only go on Christmas, or something like that. All I’d ever pray for was to be a successful musician. Not even a rock star. Luckily, I got my wish of being a successful guitar player. Of course, it’s also something that crazy people say when referring to awful murders they do. I just wanted to spin it into a positive.”

And God Told Me To is also the title of a grindhouse classic from 1976 about an alien walking around Manhattan and inspiring a few human sacrifices. It’s a fine film with the kind of depth that would really appeal to a smart guitarist.

“Oh, yeah,” agrees John. “I’ve seen it. That’s a great movie. I need to watch it again.”

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