by Johnny Papan
When: March 31 2019
Where: Rickshaw Theatre
John 5, born John Lowery, could arguably be considered one of the music industry’s most versatile guitarists, honing a portfolio beyond imagination. His early days saw him wield the axe behind Judas Priest’s Rob Halford as a member of 2wo before joining Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth’s solo act. Lowery was given the name John 5 when he later joined forces with Marilyn Manson, and now he writes, records, and tours with Rob Zombie. This is only a small portion of John 5’s eclectic collaborations list. He has also worked KISS members Paul Stanley and Ace Frehley and is close friends with Gene Simmons.
“I would talk to Gene (Simmons) about everything. He was like my big brother,” Lowery says. “I asked him when I was with David Lee Roth if I should stay with Dave or if I should join Marilyn Manson. He has taught me so much about business and my career and everything like that. Just advice and I always listened. That was a really hard decision but Dave totally understood and wished me the best of luck. We’re still good friends.”
Lowery, who is taking this phone-call from his Los Angeles home, can be heard lightly picking and strumming guitar strings throughout the interview.
“I’m always playing guitar, even right now,” Lowery says as he plays the main lick to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama.” He continues: “Everyone I’ve written with I’m a huge fan of. I love knowledge and learning all these people’s songs.”
Lowery’s wide array of musical tastes is freely explored in his solo work. Performing as John 5, Lowery mixes elements of rock, metal, bluegrass and more. The single “Crank It” off his upcoming record, Invasion, sees the artist explore electronic dance music influences.
“I love that EDM type music,” Lowery says. “You know how DJs are doing these things in these big arenas and they’re spinning records? I thought ‘Well, how cool would it be if i do something like that but I was playing the instruments?’ That’s why I did ‘Crank It.’ It’s kind of like EDM music or rave music but performed live.”
The upcoming album’s debut single “Zoinks!,” directed by artist Matt Zane, is an adult-themed tribute to one of his childhood favorites, the Scooby Doo franchise.
An interesting story shared by Lowery involves his time with Marilyn Manson and playing a show with metal juggernauts, Pantera. Lowery, who doesn’t drink, was fast asleep as Manson and Pantera were partying at the front of their tour bus. Guitar legend “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott refused to go to sleep unless John 5 took a shot of whiskey with him.
“It was like 1000 o’clock and Dime was like ‘I’m not leaving until 5 takes a shot. So they wake me up and gave me a little bit. I was like ughhh. But what a great time. If I was gonna have alcohol with anyone it was with Dime.”
Invasion is not Lowery’s only record being dropped in the near future, as he just cut a new album with Rob Zombie.
John 5 performs Sunday March 31 at the Rickshaw Theatre.john 5, Rickshaw Theatre