WILMINGTON — John William Lowery, better know as John 5, loves guitar.
Lowery, who took on the moniker John 5 when playing with Marilyn Manson in 1998, has also played with David Lee Roth, Lynyrd Skynyrd and – most recently – Rob Zombie.
When he is not touring, Lowery’s love of eclectic guitar styles has spilled over in eight solo albums.
Lowery will play songs from his latest album, “Season of the Witch,” when he appears at the Calico Room in downtown Wilmington on April 1. Local bands the Maddhatters and Good Good Grief will open.
Lowery and his band, The Creatures, caught up with Port City Daily from the road to talk about their tour, the new album and visiting North Carolina again.
How has this tour been so far?
It couldn’t be better. Today’s a great day because we got to sleep in. We’re playing every single day, every single night. The crowds have been incredible, but it’s tough to do. You don’t get a lot of sleep, but we’re doing it. I couldn’t possibly complain – and don’t take it for granted. I’m just so grateful and happy that we are doing it.
Tell us about the new band, The Creatures. How are they doing?
We’ve got a new drummer, Logan Miles Nix. He’s incredible – hey, Logan, how old are you? – he’s 30 years old and he’s an incredible drummer. We’re really happy to have him. And Ian Ross is on bass, and he’s been with me since the beginning.
Did you work with Ian on the composing of your new album, Season of the Witch?
Yes, we did. We all worked together. I love input from other artists – a lot people don’t. I love it, because I don’t have all the answers… it worked out great. You’ll never have the same idea as the person next to you has. And that’s the gift of working with other artists.
The new album covers a lot of musical styles. Where you trying to cover as much ground as possible?
It’s actually who I am. It’s just who I’m sitting on my couch at home. I love playing country, I love playing western swing, and I love playing metal. I love playing all these different styles of music. I’ll sit and I’ll watch “Hee-Haw” and I’ll watch “Creature from the Black Lagoon.” When I was doing these records, I was thinking, ‘people do not want to hear the same ten songs.’ That’s the great thing about iPod shuffle, the diversity, that’s what I wanted to create.
Is there one song for you that’s ‘the one,’ in the set?
Yes. “Hell Haw.” That’s the one. Hey, Logan, what’s your favorite? It’s “Behind the Nut Love” for Logan [‘behind the nut’ refers to a guitar-playing style]. And Ian’s is “Guitars, [expletive] and monsters.”
You play some pretty technical instrumental music. How do you keep that kind of music fresh for the listener?
I don’t know. That’s what I’m still trying to figure out… but that’s my first thought. That’s my first real concern. How am I going to entertain girlfriends and wives who maybe don’t really want to go to the show they’re being taken to. How am I going to entertain them?
What we’ve done is put together a show. Even if I didn’t have a guitar in my hand, things are going to happen that will entertain the audience. And I think that’s important. Even for me – I love the guitar, and I love instrumental music – it gets tiresome. So, I thought ‘okay, I’m going to put together a show, like an Alice Cooper-esque show, to go with this instrumental thing.’
As with previous albums, you play some Spanish-style guitar.
It’s such a wonderful art. I love the guitar, and that is just an amazing style. We were playing a song called “El Cucuy” – the boogeyman – for a while. Maybe we should throw that back into our set.
I just love that style of playing, it’s just a whole other world. It’s pure inspiration.
Speaking of inspiration, who are you listening to on this tour? Or do you block out other influences?
Oh no. My ears are always open. Music can change your life, it happens to every person, so you’ve got to be open to it.
I’ve been listening to Steely Dan [laughs]. This is great, because this is how I go with my shows. Perfection…Steely Dan wants to get beyond perfection. It’s what we’re reaching for.
Besides Steely Dan I’ve been listening to the Aristocrats, Jerry Reed, I’ve been listening to Slipknot’s last album – just good music. It’s like that line in “Almost Famous,” you know, ‘I dig music.’
How has this tour been different playing with Rob Zombie?
It’s a lot a different without the big stages and the big crowds. It’s not that I like the small shows more. I love the small shows, but I love the Zombie shows. I don’t love one or the other. I’m being completely honest with you, I could easily say, I love the Zombie shows.
But I love the stage experience. I love playing music with people really close up. I do enjoy playing in front of the crowds with the Rob stage, but the front row is 50 feet away sometimes. In a small show, I can put my head down and it can rest on someone’s head. Those are cool things. I love that stuff.
Because when I was a kid, I would go so people that were in major bands that were playing tiny shows, in small clubs. And I will never, ever forget those shows.
Last question: you are tearing through town after town. Do you ever get to see any of the towns you play in?
I’ve been doing this touring thing professionally since about 94… so I know my way around every town. I know where everything is…which is weird. It’s strange. It’s pretty scary, actually, if you think about it.
In North Carolina, though, it’s more of a feeling. And I’m not a hippy, zen kind of guy, but there are places, when I visit, that I just can’t wait to be back in. North Carolina is one of those place. It’s just beautiful, it really is beautiful. And it’s nice people. I always have a great time when I’m in North Carolina, and I can’t wait to get back there. I’ve had nothing but great times in North Carolina. And I’m not just saying that because I’m talking to you.