ROB ZOMBIE guitarist John 5 will release his new solo album, “Sinner”, on Friday, October 29 (just in time for Halloween) via Big Machine Records.
“Sinner” is everything you could expect from John5 and his incredible guitar-playing abilities. The album is instrumentally electrifying and features a power trio of John 5 (guitar), Logan Miles Nix (drums), and Ian Ross (bass).
Ten finely crafted songs that vibrate the soul with an energy rarely found in music these days. From the dynamic “Que Pasa” to the majestic metal crunch of “For I Have Sinned” to the straightforward, fun country cover of “How High the Moon.” All the songs are sonically different, taking the listener on a musical journey. John 5’s unparalleled rock riffs give “Sinner” a depth of groove that sets it apart from his other solo work. If that wasn’t enough, “Sinner” features guest appearances by original KISS drummer Peter Criss on “Georgia on My Mind,” Dave Mustaine of Megadeth on “Que Pasa,” and Carla Harvey of The Butcher Babies on “Euphoria.” Through it all, it remains undeniably John 5.
Correspondent Robert Cavuoto spoke to John 5 about the importance of inspiration, how it typically strikes, the set of disciplines required to create “Sinner”, and what it is like to record a song with Peter Criss. Check out their conversation transcript below, and remember that for more interviews and other daily content, make sure to follow Sonic Perspectives on Facebook, Flipboard and Twitter, and subscribe to our YouTube channel to be notified about new content we publish on a daily basis.
How does inspiration typically strike you when creating such great songs as “Euphoria” and “Que Pasa?”
I think inspiration is one of the most important things that can happen, and you never know when it is going to strike. It’s something that just comes along. With songs on this album or anything else I work on, you have to go after it when it strikes. That’s what I do, and I’m very fortunate to recognize when inspiration is hitting, so I grab a guitar and play. You also never know where it could come from. It can come from a TV show, a movie, or a song. It strikes you as a cool idea, and then you try and play what you hear in your head. I’m always looking for inspiration as it’s one of the most important things you can have.
Are you someone who has their guitar with them at all times and can write a song every time you pick it up?
I do have a guitar with me all the time. It’s like a comfort, just like carrying your blanket around when you were a little kid, but a guitar is cool to carry around. I would look weird carrying a blanket around and sucking my thumb [laughing]. I’m just writing songs like “Euphoria,” “Que Pasa,” “Creepshow,” and “Land of the Misfit Toys” all the time. It’s so important to capture that moment of inspiration, and you have to be open and ready for it. You have to go after it when it does.
What was the song selection criteria for “Sinner”?
There are ten songs, and three of them are cover songs. I always like ten-song albums; it’s just enough. With KISS, Hendrix, and Van Halen, it was ten songs or something close to that. I didn’t write “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” “Georgia on My Mind,” and “How High the Moon.”
Tell me about the set of disciplines required to create your music as the songs go beyond typical rock, metal, or even of your county roots.
It took an extreme amount of discipline! I would practice and play these songs all the time because I wanted to do everything as a performance. I had so much time on my hands with the lockdown I wanted to get it all down and not punch in parts. It worked out well!
There is some tremendous playing and techniques on here, but I feel this album showcases your talents as a songwriter creating riff-driven songs with memorable melodies. Do you feel that was the case?
Yes, I love a great riff and always have, just like anyone else. It’s hard to describe it, but I’ll play a riff repeatedly, and if I don’t get tired of it, then that’s a good riff to me. It has to be enjoyable to play over and over, like “Thunder Kiss 65,” “Black Dog” by Zeppelin, and “Satisfaction” by The Stones. You can play those songs all day and not get tired of them. That is how I try to write cool, memorable riffs.
I loved “Que Pasa” with Dave Mustaine. You could have picked a million musician friends to be on that song; what made him perfect for it?
I love Megadeth and happened to be on a listening kick of their music. Everything is meant for a reason, and there are signs all over; you just have to be in tune to be aware of them. I thought Dave Mustaine would be perfect for this part. I was so happy when he said yes! It couldn’t have come out any better. We had a James Brown sample in there before, and this is Dave‘s take on it. He nailed.
Speaking of riff-driven songs, “For I Have Sinned” has a Metallica vibe. Did they inspire that song?
Oh yeah, Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and all that sort of stuff are there. This album is really who I am! I sit on the couch and play guitar to what I love and what I have experienced my whole life. Every song on here is me loving all that stuff, and it all comes out.
It must have been a dream come true to have Peter Criss perform “Georgia on My Mind,” as he is one of your heroes?
Absolutely! He is a hero of mine. I would have never thought I would know Peter Criss, let alone having him play on one of my songs, so it was a true honor. I can’t say enough great things about Peter. He is the best. He is a great person, an incredible drummer, and musician. I’m lucky to have him on that song.
How did it come about to have him on that song?
I had a solo guitar playing “Georgia on My Mind” and thought it would be great if Peter played drums with me on it. I reached out to him and asked, and he said, “Absolutely!” I flew my producer, Barry Pointer, to over him, and Peter nailed it right away. They were then trying to figure out what to do with all the extra time, so they all went out to eat dinner [laughing].
He did a great job with the brushes on the drums for that jazzy version.
Because he loves that style of music, he understands it more than most. He loves Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich. That style of music is inside him; that is why he is so good at it. It is natural for him. It’s like breathing for him.
Where did Peter’s speaking part that intros the song come from?
That was recorded while Peter and Barry were talking and setting up the microphones. I asked Peter if I could start the song with it because it was so honest and from the heart, and he approved it.
Are your parents proud of you that you go back to your roots to play country-influenced songs?
My parents were always proud. I brought them to concerts when I was playing for K.D. Lang and my mother even came to a couple of Marilyn Mason concerts. I never smoked, did drugs, or drank. I was a good kid who played guitar. I wanted to be a session guy. They were always were proud of what I have done because I wanted it so bad. It’s your child, so you want it for them, but it’s not something you can buy. They have to do it for themselves and work at it, and I think that is what made them proud of me. Country music is great music and very difficult to play it. I loved anything that was done well, whether it was juggling or riding a bike, anyone who is really great at their craft.
This past August was my fourth time seeing you perform live. What struck me was you spoke, joked, and interacted more with the crowd than I previously remember at your shows. Are you getting more comfortable in being a front-man?
I’m very shy in talking with the crowd. I just want to play guitar, but I want to let them know how happy I am doing what I’m doing and for them coming out. Interacting with the crowd is very important. It means you’re personable and are happy to be there.
Is there any chance with David Lee Roth retiring that the entire album you wrote with him will see the light of day?
He keeps releasing songs as he just released “Lo-Rez Sunset,” which is wonderful. There is a song on that album called “Nothing Could Have Stopped Us,” and I have to tell you it is one of my favorite songs Dave has ever done! It’s unbelievable, and I’ll be super excited when he releases that. We are reminded that all of our heroes are human, and they want to retire and all that stuff. They do deserve to retire, and we can’t be selfish. Dave has given us some of the greatest music in the world, as well as live shows. I’m happy that he has done that.
David will always be one of the greatest front-men in rock! Did you see Van Halen when you were a kid growing up?
I saw them for the first time in 1984 when I was 14 years old. I saw them a ton of times later when I was friends with the guys.