Guitarist John Lowery, AKA John 5, is a rare talent. Although his name may not be on the tip of every fan's tongue, if you ask around the music industry youíll hear Lowery described as the player's player. Extraordinarily gifted, his talents transcend genre allowing for a sense of musical taste that, when appropriate, unleashes the most savage riff or a more subtle accent. His musical prowess as well as gentle and unpretentious demeanor has placed him on stages around the world. Perhaps best known for his stint with Marilyn Manson, Lowery has also toured and jammed with the likes of K.D. Lang, Rob Halford, Les Paul and heís currently out with Rob Zombie.
I called Lowery during his recent stopover in Los Angeles. He was backstage, perhaps an hour before the show and with a group of people. Not too surprisingly he was unaware that an interview had been scheduled. Nonetheless he was willing to take the call and I thank him for that.
Initial greetings and congratulations on the new Rob Zombie album turned to talk about the tour. I asked how life on the road has been treating him.
J5: The tour has been nothing but success and sold-out shows.
DB: I was reading through your bio and Iím very impressed by the number and variety of different people that youíve worked with. It shows a real diverse and developed skill on your part.
J5: You know, I just like to keep it new and keep it fresh. You donít want to eat the same food every day.
DB: I completely agree with you and that can be said for most everyone. But at the same time your range is amazing. I mean from K.D. Lang to Halford is a bit of a stretch!
J5: Yeah it is, but itís all music and thatís what I love. I donít just love rock or metal, you know? I love all kinds of music and I really do appreciate the opportunity to learn and study as much as I can.
DB: And your talents do show. You are a player, thereís no doubt about that. I received a press release a few days back concerning your band Loser. It appears that things have come to an end. What can you tell us about that?
J5: Itís so hard to juggle two things. Unfortunately I canít be in two places at once. And it was kind of obvious to me to stick with Rob (Zombie). Heís already established and weíre playing all these sold-out shows and the record is doing great. Thatís instead of starting all over from the bottom. So I chose this road. Maybe itís not your road, but itís the road I took.
DB: I understand. Iím sure there are a lot of fans that are disappointed. I know you had a chance to play a handful of shows in LA. Iím sure you had a substantial response, I mean signing to Island Records and everything.
J5: We went out on tour with Stained too right before I went out with Rob. It was a great success. It was a hard decision, but I think that anybody in my position wouldíve done the same.
DB: Is there any chance of those songs ever seeing the light of day?
J5: I hope so. They are really, really strong. So Iím hoping.
DB: It would be unusual for the record company not to want to recoup some of their investment. Is there any word on what the rest of the band is going to do?
J5: I donít know. Hopefully theyíll get some auditions. They are all very talented, great players. Time will tell.
DB: Youíve released a few solo albums, letís talk about that. I think "Vertigo" was the first.
J5: Thatís something that I love, love, love to do. I love to put out instrumental records. I recorded that "Vertigo" album after leaving Manson to show every body that I could play guitar. It was a great success. And the record company asked if I would please make another, so I recorded "Songs for Sanity." I had Steve Vai and Albert Lee on the record, two legendary guitar players. And soon here I will begin work on my third solo record.
DB: Now the distinction between your solo work and Loser is vocals?
J5: Yes. The solo records are all about guitar. I was going to do those albums just for myself. You know, maybe a handful of people would buy them, but suddenly they started selling well. I was surprised because they are all instrumental.
DB: Yeah, it seems like instrumental music has its own little niche in the world and it doesnít end up on the radio as often as something that people can tie a vocal melody too. I guess the lesson here is that there are fans of the guitar and they will seek out great music.
J5: Absolutely. Itís great and Iím really happy about it because that is something I do simply because of the love of guitar and the love of music.
DB: Back to your bio for a moment, you certainly are busy. Youíre not only touring with Zombie, but youíre also on the record.
J5: Yeah, I play guitar on all of the songs and I wrote, I think it was eight of the 11 songs with Scott Humphrey and Rob Zombie.
DB: Thatís impressive. It sounds that youíre as involved with Zombie as you were with Manson. If I recall you did three tours and two albums with Manson?
J5: I think something like that. We did a live album, we did "Holy Wood," "The Golden Age of Grotesque" and a bunch of soundtracks. There was a bunch of tours. We were working, thatís for sure.
DB: Both Zombie and Manson share a common thread in that they live within the theatrics of rock. Itís interesting that youíve been in both bands. How did you meet Rob Zombie?
J5: Dave Navaro called me to do the Tsunami benefit. Of course I wanted to be a part of that. And Dave said that we were going to do it with Rob Zombie. I wanted to play with Rob because Iím such a fan. We got together and I know all of his songs so I said, "Hey if you ever need a guitar player." Well, he was about to go out and do Ozzfest. It was such a perfect fit, so everything just kind of fell into place.
DB: You have certainly made the best of a great opportunity. After this tour I understand that youíre going back into the studio to work on your next solo record. Have you begun the writing process?
J5: Iím only about three songs into the writing process but each song is about eight minutes long! Itís a lot of music, you know? Itís really fun!
DB: Itís amazing what happens when vocals donít get into the way!
And with a good laugh the interview ended. The welcomed success of the new Zombie record means that Lowery and crew will be out on tour most of the summer. This of course is your opportunity to catch the live show and see what everyone has been talking about. A special thanks to John Lowery for making this interview possible. And donít forget to check out the Web site. http://www.john-5.com/
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