Reverb Interview: John 5

John 5’s life is one musical whirlwind. Not only does he hold down lead guitar duties in Rob Zombie’s band, but the Los Angeles-based guitarist churns out solo albums and singles; tours with both Zombie and his solo instrumental band; and is an in-demand session guitarist who has worked with David Lee Roth, Paul Stanley and Sebastian Bach.

Oh, yeah. And he’s also a fan of Reverb.com.

“I’ve ordered from there and get your emails every day!” he told us.

Right now, John 5 is revving up to release his latest album with Rob Zombie, The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser, on April 29. He also has tour dates with his own solo instrumental project and with Zombie lined up for the next few months.

John 5 spoke with Reverb about his writing relationship with Rob Zombie, the particulars of his signature guitar and what hundreds of guitars are in his collection.

Congratulations on the new album. What's it like writing with Rob Zombie?

We have a great writing relationship. He wants something out of the norm, so I really have to experiment with sounds and parts to create something that’s not so everyday. That’s the challenge. I write with so many other artists, and there’s a formula, but he doesn’t want that stock thing, so it’s a challenge — but I love a challenge.

Did you do anything different this time around in writing or recording?

Yes, actually! What we did differently is that we took our time and didn’t rush through it. People want the record right away, and a lot of record companies want it right away so they can start promoting it. We took our time with this stuff and made sure we loved everything. It was at our own leisure. We could really dissect it and live with it, which is the most important thing. We’re really happy with the final product. It will be around a lot longer than any of us, and that’s the reality.

What guitars do you use to write?

I’m always with my gold Telecaster, my signature model from Fender. I always with it. I’m never apart from it. It’s my blanket. It’s my toy I grew up with. I usually write with that all the time.

Squier J5 Telecaster

Squier J5 Telecaster

Fender J5 Triple Deluxe Telecaster

Fender J5 Triple Deluxe Telecaster

Fender Custom Shop John 5 Telecaster

Fender Custom Shop John 5 Telecaster

What particulars did you want on your signature?

I love old vintage Telecasters. I’m a connoisseur of old vintage Telecasters, and I have this Fender Telecaster Custom that came out in ‘59 and ran until ’71. I have binding from the old Telecaster Custom, and I love the necks from around ’59, ’60 and ’66, so I have that radius and width. It has two humbuckers, like a Telecaster Deluxe. I can play it really heavy, and it has a great, clean sound, too. It’s a guitar that does everything. If you’re going to buy a guitar, it’s a great guitar to use, and it’s great for studio and live. It’s a great all-around guitar.

What other guitars are in your collection?

I have hundreds and hundreds of guitars that I love. It’s my world."

I have hundreds of Telecasters. I love every Telecaster from every year, from the first year they started up. I have multiples from every year, so I have hundreds and hundreds of guitars that I love. It’s my world. I also have a ton of Gibson Les Pauls and SGs and Gretsch and Martin guitars. I have everything, so that when I do a session and someone asks me, “Do you have a Les Paul from this year or a Flying V?” I do.

You have a lot of signature gear. Can you talk about some of your favorites?

I have a pack of Signature Dean Markley strings, which I love. I never break strings. They’re wonderful. All of my gear I love. It’s not just playing with it, it’s the traveling and having to push and pull it and all that stuff.

How has the gear you use influenced your sound or technique?

The gear is really important. I love history, and the Fender Telecaster has such a great history. That guitar is meant as a county guitar, but these guys could really play. There were unbelievable guitar players back in the ‘50s and ‘60s, so I would watch “Hee Haw,” and they all played Telecasters. I was like, “That’s the guitar I want to play.” So guitar has inspired me so much, just the history of it.

Your solo tour with John 5 and the Creatures kicks off in March. Tell me about your solo shows.

It’s completely instrumental, and it’s really fun. We play all different styles of music: Western swing, Spanish-style flamenco, heavy stuff. So it’s cool because you never know what style is going to come next. With my solo music, I’m going to release a song every month with a video instead of putting a record out. Every month, you get a brand new song with a video. That’s what I’ve been doing since January 1.

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