ROB ZOMBIE Guitarist JOHN 5 – “Up All Night With KERRY KING”

April 1, 2013, 4 years ago

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By Aaron Small

Guitarist JOHN 5 joined ROB ZOMBIE in 2005, and out of the three Zombie albums he’s appeared on, Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor, due in stores April 23rd, is undoubtedly the best. “Yeah, people love this record! It’s doing really, really well at radio; people enjoy it a lot so we’re excited about it. To me, I think it sounds like old WHITE ZOMBIE; I love old White Zombie. I was such a huge fan. It’s really cool. I’m so happy with this record.”

Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor seemingly came out of nowhere. Fans were focused on Zombie’s new movie, The Lords Of Salem, which will receive widespread theatrical release on April 19th. Then news of Broad Street Bullies, Rob’s next film about the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1970s surfaced. And oh yeah, by the way, there’s a new album as well. A lot of bands today make a big deal of the whole process, announcing that they’re going into the studio, then providing constant updates via Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram; but that’s not the case with John 5 and Rob Zombie; it’s basically done in secret. “Yeah, remember back in the day when the only way you could get information was from a magazine; like VAN HALEN or KISS is recording a new album. It wasn’t like everywhere you look, on your phone you can see they’re doing guitar tracks now and you can watch that. It doesn’t make it as special to me. I remember running to the magazine stores to see what was going on and what was new. But now we get to see when someone’s doing backups or something like that. We just went for the way of doing it like, here’s our new record, now we’re going to start promoting it. We started recording it sporadically, all over the place. From last summer to after Halloween, during Christmas, it was done over bits of time, in between tours.”

You’d never know that by listening to it, as there’s a very cohesive sound running throughout the album. It doesn’t sound like it was done at several different locations over different time periods. “That is very true and I’m glad you’re in tune with that because the bulk of it, the guitars, were all done at once. I’m not talking about if we fill in stuff with overdubs; the majority was done in a month. That’s why it has such a cohesive sound, it sounds like we’re just jamming it out. And that’s the truth too, we just played and turned up to 11, just ripped this thing. You can hear that, it’s really aggressive. It’s not Pro-Tooled to hell, it’s mean and that’s what I really like about it.”

Although drummer Ginger Fish has toured as part of Rob Zombie’s band since 2011, Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor is the first album that he’s actually played on. However, John 5’s history with Ginger goes back quite a bit further to MARILYN MANSON. 5 and Fish appeared on three MM albums together: Mechanical Animals (1998), Holy Wood (2000), and The Golden Age Of Grotesque (2003). “Yes, I’ve been with Ginger for quite a while,” says John. “It’s like when you check in with friends every so often, I asked Ginger what’s going on? He said he wasn’t doing anything and blah, blah, blah. This is when we had Joey (Jordison) in for a little while, then he had to go do some more SLIPKNOT dates. So we didn’t have a drummer, I talked to Rob – but it wasn’t planned at all. I was just thinking, I wonder what Ginger’s doing and how he is? It worked out perfect and he fits like a glove; he’s great.”

The first single from Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor has a bit of a lengthy title, ‘Dead City Radio And The New Gods Of Super Town’. But that’s not unusual for Rob, Hellbilly Deluxe 2 was subtitled Noble Jackals, Penny Dreadfuls And The Systematic Dehumanization Of Cool. “That’s right; it’s not like a PETER GABRIEL album where he just calls it So.” As a young music fan growing up, rock radio was a big part of John 5’s life. “Yeah, that’s all we had. I loved rock radio, it was so rad! It was so cool because there was no playlists. Nowadays stations are like, ‘you have to play these songs.’ It wasn’t like that when I was growing up; it was so awesome. But with Sirius and XM and all that stuff, they’ll pull really deep cuts out; I like that a lot.” It would appear that John prefers satellite over FM radio, however he admits, “the reason I’m not a big fan of FM is just because of all the commercials. There’s a commercial after every song almost, it’s so frustrating. But you know why I love FM? And I’m being completely honest, I don’t know if this is demystifying or anything, but I like to hear what’s current and what’s new; that’s why I like FM.” That being said, John confesses, “I listen to my iPod in my car. I have so much music on my iPod, 14,000 songs or something like that, catalogues and catalogues of music. So I just put it on shuffle, plug it in, and you never know what you’re going to get. It’s really cool because you could be listening to SLIPKNOT, and the next song is BUCK OWENS.”

John, Rob, Ginger and bassist Piggy D covered an old GRAND FUNK RAILROAD song on Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor, ‘We’re An American Band’. That tune was originally issued in 1973, and now 40 years later it’s been heavied up for a new generation. John spills the beans on how this reworking of a classic rock song came about. “Me and Rob were talking in the back lounge of the bus, what should we do, this song? That would be great. I think we had our minds set on a certain song, I won’t say the song ‘cause we might do it in the future. Rob suggested ‘American Band’, I thought it was perfect. If you listen to the track, there’s a lyric in the original that goes, up all night with Freddie King. In our version it says, up all night with Kerry King (SLAYER guitarist). So that’s pretty cool. It was such a fun thing, and we were jamming that before, ‘cause we love to do covers at sound check.”

5 plays the sitar on what could be the title track, ‘Theme For The Rat Vendor’. “Yeah, that’s really cool! It’s one of the tracks I really enjoy on the record, but I love all the songs on the record; it’s just like going to a pizza place, they’re all great to me. But I love the sitar thing, it’s really, I kind of just came up with that on the spot. I love those kinds of modes and that Indian style of music. It’s a nice breather to have on the record too.”

‘Ging Gang Gong De Do Gong De Laga Raga’ will certainly have fans scratching their heads! If Rob and his wife Sheri had a baby, you’d guess that’s where the title came from, but the Zombies are not parents. “You know what, you hear that title and you think oh my god, it’s a crazy title, but that is one of my favourite songs on the record. What a cool tune that is, it’s so hooky! Who would think with a title like that? I love that song.” Once you listen to it, the realization quickly sets in that it’s pretty cool, but before you’ve torn the shrink wrap off the CD, you’re wondering what the hell is that? “Yeah, and I like that ‘cause people look at the titles and they’re like, ‘what the hell?’ Everybody has said that. It’s not like ‘In My Dreams’ or ‘Follow My Heart’, or ‘Rockin’ The Night’; it’s not your everyday song titles. Everything catches your attention, which is cool.”

In addition to writing and playing on Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor, John 5 scored the soundtrack to The Lords Of Salem. “Yes that is right, and what a challenge that was. There was something like 60 cues, a lot of those are 20 seconds, 30 seconds, but I’ll tell you, that was a lot of work! I’ve never scored a full-length feature film, and there’s a lot of music in this movie. In the studio we were making the weirdest sounds; we used very unorthodox instruments, weird string instruments and pounding on stuff. But then there’s a lot of orchestral pieces and choirs, it’s really this huge, grand project. I couldn’t believe it when I saw the movie; the movie’s phenomenal! I’m just so excited for people to hear it and see it; it’s really something else. It is dark man. This movie’s crazy, crazy! After I watched it, I was like, what is wrong with this guy?”

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