John-5 Gets in Touch with His Inner Child
By FW staff
There are many ingredients that go into the making of a rock icon.
You’ve got to have the 3ds ~ discipline, determination and dedication ~ (contained, not so ironically, in my moniker), the uber-cliché (but accurate) combination of “hard work and a little luck,” and, most importantly, an abundance of what is instrumental (pun intended) in creating a legitimate icon, not just another musician: talent.
Gunslinger John-5’s latest solo effort, Careful with that Axe, showcases just how much of that vital attribute he possesses. J-5’s 8th solo album is a slight departure from his previous efforts as it’s a bit more traditional than many instrumental albums; however, that minor shift shines a major spotlight on the artist’s range, musical taste, and overall mastery of his “Axe.”
“Everything means something on this record,” John stated very clearly. “The names of the songs all have something to do with an axe or axe murders. If you look up the titles you might be surprised at what you find.”
The title of the album itself has an especially personal meaning which John shared: “I remember as a kid, my dad handing me my first guitar and saying, ‘You know John, it’s a one in a million shot this will amount to anything, it can bring you as much poverty and sadness as joys and riches…’ Essentially, my dad was saying ‘…careful with that guitar, son…careful with that axe.’”
It would also appear that John spent some time, as did a lot of us in his generation, watching shows like “Hee Haw” with his parents and grandparents ~ and that he may have enjoyed the experience a tad more than most of us did or would have been willing to admit we did. That he not only enjoyed but also absorbed the music is evident in covers of legendary bluegrass/country-western picker Jerry Reed’s “Jiffy Jam” and “Jerry’s Breakdown.”
“I remember those shows so vividly and still watch the old reruns on DVD. At the time, I just liked the speed and feel of the songs, but as I got older I began to appreciate them on a technical level.”
The nostalgia continued as John recalled the influence of a more classical composition: “I loved ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’ as a kid, I can remember being very young and dancing wildly around the house to it.” The track “Flight of the Vulcan Kelly” is an homage of sorts to “Bumblebee” but is also a perfect tie-in to the album’s theme. “The Vulcan Kelly was an axe manufactured in the 1800s so ‘Flight of the Vulcan Kelly’ implies the swinging of an axe,” John explained.
As Rob Zombie’s longtime right-hand man and a veteran of scoring films and writing material for his solo records (find out more about John’s career here, from one of our first conversations), J5 is no stranger to the “hard work and a little luck” concept, either, and I was curious as to whether he ever gets a chance to play his solo music live or whether all the hard work pays off only in the form of a finished album. It was my turn for “a little luck” as the timing of my question couldn’t have been better; John was extremely excited to share some news regarding that very topic.
“On October 18th we will be broadcasting a live show over three different time zones worldwide. It will be the first time I’m playing the new material and some of my older stuff live.We’re finalizing everything now. The show will be held in L.A. and hosted by Megadeth’s Chris Broderick. Ordering the show will be super cheap and super easy, you’ll just have to click a button on my website, john-5.com, and watch.”
“I love Halloween! It’s such a perfect holiday. You don’t have to buy anyone anything, you don’t have to see family you haven’t seen in forever and you get to dress up like monsters, I mean, what could possibly be better than that!?”
J5 will start the holiday festivities early by opening up Rob Zombie’s Great American Nightmare (read our full article about “The Ultimate Halloween Horror Event” here) in Scottsdale, AZ on Sept 19th (and yes, we’ll be covering the Nightmare live…no way we’d pass up that media invitation!).
John 5 is many things in his professional life: musician, entrepreneur, virtuoso, icon, each of which demands that he display different qualities and rely on different elements of his personality and talent ~ but after getting to know him a little better over the past couple of years, I’d say the most important quality he possesses, one that most people lose early on, is that he’s a kid at heart. After all this time in the business, he still has an almost wide-eyed innocence and openness that keep both his love for what he does and his eagerness to keep exploring music alive and very much a part of who he is.
You can (and should) download Careful with that Axe from any of the major reputable download sites and in a variety of formats on August 12th ~ also be sure to check out the live broadcast of John-5 and the Creatures on October 18th, available for order soon on John’s website.
For a list of John’s upcoming tour dates, click here.