Rock It: Rob Zombie guitarist John5 talks ‘Twins of Evil’ tour Bands Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson join forces for fall

Posted on November 14, 2013


Rock It: Rob Zombie guitarist John5 talks ‘Twins of Evil’ tour Bands Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson join forces for fall

Rob Zombie performed last on the "Twins of Evil" tour with Marilyn Manson and DJ Starscream at Allstate Arena in Chicago on Thursday, October 11, 2012. Rob Zombie- Vocals, Piggy D-Bass, John5-guitar and Ginger Fish-Drums. (Photo by Rachael Mattice/Journal & Courier)

Rob Zombie performed last on the “Twins of Evil” tour with Marilyn Manson and DJ Starscream at Allstate Arena in Chicago on Thursday, October 11, 2012. Rob Zombie- Vocals, Piggy D-Bass, John5-guitar and Ginger Fish-Drums.
(Photo by Rachael Mattice/Journal & Courier)

By: Rachael Mattice

It is the month of Halloween, when fans abundantly watch spook favorites such as “Frankenstein” and “Creature from the Black Lagoon.”

But for John Lowery, the Rob Zombie guitarist better known for his stage name, John5, it’s a nightly ritual to watch clips of these classics before sleep.

Rooted in the monster magazines and those old movies of childhood, the band’s live show and appearance is known to be visually thrilling.

Since 2005, John5 has been the guitarist in the heavy metal god and director’s band. Breaking through the scene with help from David Lee Roth, John5 became the fifth member of the industrial metal band Marilyn Manson, making a name for himself with his ingenuity with his Fender Telecaster guitars.

Now, both John5’s former band and his current group, which share a theatrical, sinister appeal, have joined forces for the “Twins of Evil” tour. Gathering the Manson family and Zombies, so to speak, to Allstate Arena in Chicago tonight will awaken horrific entertainment for Halloween.

John5 talked about the show, writing the score for the upcoming horror film “The Lords of Salem,” his latest solo album and his only instance of drinking alcohol with the late Dimebag Darrell.

Question: One thing that is different with Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson compared to other metal followings is that there are a lot of girl fans. Why do you think they are drawn to these bands?

Answer: The music is not so aggressive, it’s not some bald guy screaming in your face, it’s just not so crazy like that. It’s the type of music that has a sexy beat; there is always that hint of sex in both of the bands, I think. It has that cool, sexy groove element as well as the dangerous, heavy aggressive parts, so guys and girls really dig it.

Q: You played with Ginger Fish in Manson’s band. How did he end up joining Zombie’s? What has changed or evolved since he joined? Did he contribute to the new Rob Zombie album that will be released soon?

A: Ginger wasn’t really doing much at the time in Manson’s band. I would check in with him every year, just to call up old band members to see what they are doing. Lo and behold, we’re on tour and he’s working out perfect. He’s a great drummer and a great guy.

Ginger has always been an out of the ordinary drummer – he has video, is a DJ and has a lot of other visual things going on. We like things that are a little out of the ordinary. Yes, he played drums on the new Rob Zombie album that is about to come out. He’s been a perfect fit.

Q: I heard that Jonathan Davis (J Devil) canceled as the opener. Who is taking his place?

A: It’s a drag that he can’t join, but Sid from Slipknot (DJ Starscream) is opening the show. He came in and saved the day. I think that when he comes on, he rules. People seem to really love it. He’s got a great show going on and wears these crazy outfits, and warms up the crowd great.

Q: Where do the ideas and designs for yours and the rest of the band’s clothes and face paint come from? Are there certain characters, ideologies, mythical creatures or classic films you get inspiration from?

A: It comes from childhood, when you’re a kid and love certain things. I was really into old monster movies. For some reason it caught me and intrigued me. I remember always having my monster magazines with me everywhere I went. Then I saw KISS and it was very inspirational; it was kind of like monsters with guitars. I always thought if you’re going to do a show, put in entertainment. People want to be entertained. I’ve always felt that way.

Q: You wrote the score for the new “Lords of Salem” movie and have worked with a wide array of artists that go beyond metal. How many instruments do you play? Writing film score is so different from writing a regular song. How did you learn to write score music?

A: I can pretty much play anything with a string, although guitar is my main instrument. There were a lot of the orchestral instruments, like your French horns and violins, but it was very unconventional with weird instruments and just scraping things for noise. It was a challenge because sometimes there was no time or key signature. I am very proud of it and I hope people really enjoy it.

You’re right, it’s very different from writing a tune. I’ve always just had appreciation and just love to study music and get into it as much as I can and all types of music, hence my instrumental records. I am a connoisseur of music in general. It’s paid off and helped me down the line. Knowledge is power.

It’s just like if you were to do an interview with a Japanese artist and you spoke fluent Japanese they would go “Oh wow, that’s great,” so it’s kind of like that. You learn as much as you can.

Q: Where did the musicianship come from in your family?

A: I don’t know; it just kind of chose me. I’ve always had an interest for it. I think about that too. I think about why people are hair stylists or racecar drivers or ballerinas or whatever; they’re so into it, that is their whole life. You know some guy could just say “I just want to make lemonade and that’s what I want to do my whole life and just loves making lemonade all day” and some people are like that. That is how I am with music, totally addicted to it.

Q: It seems like you have a strong work ethic.

A: It is very strong, its been great but it’s also been tough as well with relationships and stuff like that because I love it so much, its hard for people to understand. I’m very lucky to be doing what I do.

Q: In other interviews, you said that working with Manson is so different than with Zombie. Besides organization, can you tell me what it’s like working with Zombie? How do you connect with him and this band more on projects, writing, even performing on stage?

A: I think with this band it’s just like friends, you meet people that you can really relate with and they have the same vision and outlet. That is what it is like with Zombie. He makes me look like a lazy guy because he works so hard and I really like that because he is so driven. It is inspiring for me, birds of a feather flock together and I have always believed that.

I really love where I am and don’t take it for granted at all. I’m glad to be working with a group of guys that love to work like I do.

Q: I’m intrigued by the cover of your album “God Told Me To.” Who designed it? What is significant about the “X” on your forehead?

A: Rob Zombie painted it! It was a great honor. He jotted that all together. He asked “what’s the name of the album?” and I said “God Told Me To,” and that’s all I needed to tell him.

That’s kind of a Zombie thing he’s had his whole career, an X in the middle of his head. First of all, it’s a great question, no one has ever asked me this question and there’s such a great answer to it.

On the Marilyn Manson “Guns, Gods and Government” DVD, I had this big “X” on my head because I really loved Rob Zombie. Nobody really knew this, it was an inside secret but I had the same makeup I had on in Marilyn Manson that I do today with a big “X” as an inside thing for Rob Zombie.

Q: I love your songs on your latest solo album: “Welcome to Violence,” “Killafornia.” Is “Ashland Bump” part of a street in Detroit?

A: (Laughs) Yes, it is! It’s so funny. I grew up in Grosse Point, Mich., which is a very safe and secluded area. You don’t cross over this street called Alter. That is when you get into Detroit in the bad neighborhood. When you cross over that street, there is a street called Ashland and there is a HUGE bump there. Whenever you went over it you thought, “Oh here is the Ashland Bump, we’re into bad territory now.”

Q: “Creepy Crawler” grabbed me. The song stuck out in my mind. Can you tell me the background about this song?

A: Back in the ’60s, there was the Manson family in Los Angeles. They would run around neighborhoods and go in backyards and turn everybody’s furniture upside down or run on people’s roofs or knock on back doors or things like that. They would be called “creepy crawlers,” and I just thought that was so scary and frightening.

I used to be in a band with Rudy Sarzo and he said he was staying at Ringo Starr’s house one time, and here comes those creepy crawlers, and told me it was so scary. I was always intrigued by that.

Q: I also read that you do not drink or do drugs, is this correct? Seems a bit uncommon in the industry. Can you tell me why you chose the path away from it instead?

A: I would look around and see how people were operating doing drugs and alcohol and people felt like crap. It was hard for them to get up and do a show the next day or they weren’t coherent and I just thought, “God, that sounds terrible!”

The funny thing is that I’m the person that is out of the ordinary. Everybody does it. If I tell people I don’t drink or smoke they respond “What? What are you talking about; you’ve never drank before? That’s crazy.” I’ve just always been like that. I want to get up and do good and get things done.

Q: Wait, you’ve never had a drink before?

A: There was one, ONE instance when the Pantera guys were on the bus. It was Vinnie Paul and Dimebag (Dimebag Darrell, also known as Darrell Abbott) and they were on our bus really late, a thousand o’clock. I was in my bunk already sleeping and the bus driver said “All right, everyone off the bus, it’s time to go” and Dime said, “We have to do one more shot before we go.” He asked where I was and someone told him I was sleeping. He replied, “I’m not leaving until 5 gets out here.” They told him that I don’t drink but he still said “I’m not leaving” and sat back down.

They got me out of the bunk and they poured me this shot of, I don’t know what it was, gasoline or something. I told them I didn’t drink, so they poured a little bit out, but I did it and it felt like someone stabbed me in the stomach. That was the only time. I guess if there had to be only one time, it’s good that it was with Dimebag.

Q: You’ve released six solo albums, you’ve worked with numerous people from different genres, you wrote the score for “Lords of Salem,” you’ve been on the cover of several magazines, you are in a band with Rob Zombie of which you were a fan of with White Zombie before you joined, what else do you want to accomplish in your life?

A: I’d love to get my master’s in music. I’d like to do something like that; it would be exciting. I’m just probably going to be doing what I’m doing now for as long as I can. Who knows, when I’m in my 60s I’ll probably be playing for a country act or something like that.

Q: I’ve seen you play with a violin bow and you love Fender Telecaster guitars. What else would you say is signature to the “John5” image?

A: A lot of people don’t really know this, but before I go to sleep, I always have to watch a Universal horror movie like “Frankenstein,” “Creature from the Black Lagoon,” “The Wolfman,” or “Dracula” for about 15 to 20 minutes. It doesn’t matter where I am in the world, I always do that; it relaxes me and puts me to sleep. It’s weird.

Q: After the show is over in Chicago, what do you want all of the fans that came to the show to walk away thinking?

A: It couldn’t be a better time of year for this tour. I want them to be entertained and get in the car on the way home and go “That was a great night.” It’s just like if you go see a movie and you talk about it on the way home. I just want people to have a great time.”

Get last minute tickets for the show tonight at Allstate Arena at

Mattice is a producer and music journalist for the Journal & Courier. She can be reached at or on Twitter @RachaelM_JC.

Posted in: "Rock It" Column