THE COMMITTED SINNER
Guitar World|January 2022
JOHN 5 — a guy who really, really, really loves playing guitar — tells you everything you need to know about SINNER, his brand-new solo album featuring a QUEEN cover, some carefully hone driffs — and guest appearances by DAVE MUSTAINE and KISS man PETER CRISS
ADAM KOVAC

JOHN 5 REALLY LOVES PLAYING guitar. It might seem like a redundant statement; he’s a professional guitarist being written about in a guitar magazine, after all. It’d stand to reason he enjoys picking up the instrument every now and again.

But this can’t be stressed enough: John 5 really, really, really loves playing guitar. Put aside the fact that instead of taking well-earned vacations when he’s not on tour with Rob Zombie, he collaborates with artists as varied as Rod Stewart, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Ricky Martin and puts out solo albums, including his latest, Sinner. Ignore the fact that his Instagram is peppered with tour preparations consisting of running scales while trotting on a treadmill.

Let’s put it this way: When most guitarists sit down for an interview, they get on the phone and answer the questions. Sometimes they gush about a new project or a new signature axe, but the format is consistent. When the man born John William Lowery sits down for an interview, he insists on a Zoom call and appears on the screen holding his signature frost gold Fender Telecaster. It’s a guitar that’s been so well-loved that he recently had to replace the pickguard because of wear and tear.

“I’m just mostly comfortable with this guitar,” he says. “The metal was worn in. And now, already you can see it’s getting worn away again and it’s only been a month or so.”

Throughout our interview, John 5 doesn’t just answer questions about Sinner: he offers an intimate and unprompted playthrough of favorite tracks, demonstrating riffs and solos (and only occasionally getting distracted by one of the Sphynx cats strolling over his coffee table).

So, yeah: John 5 really loves playing guitar, and that love is all over Sinner. Which isn’t to say this is the typical shred album. Sure, there’s mind-blowing technique sprinkled throughout the 10 tracks; lightning-fast arpeggios on album opener “Welcome to the Island,” sweeps and taps galore on the verses of “Euphoria,” and, of course, the country runs that have become a John 5 signature on a demented version of Les Paul and Mary Ford’s “How High the Moon.”

What’s most noticeable on Sinner is just how concise everything is. On previous solo records, John 5 would go off on whatever tangent his fertile imagination would take him, which resulted in some very inventive, if somewhat unfocused, music. Here, that cerebral chaos has been finely honed. The album is eclectic (this is a guy who spent an early portion of his career backing k.d. lang, after all) but keeps from meandering.

“I love rock, mostly, but I just love music — and that’s what’s most important. I just love all these different kinds of guitar playing there is. All these different kinds of guitar players and styles, I try to use that in my records. It’s just what I watch on TV, it’s what I do and I try to incorporate all these cool licks with heavy rock music. People really enjoy those parts of the show because it’s not just metal, metal, metal music in your face,” he says, veering off into a quick chicken pickin’ run.

It’s entirely possible that the blade sharp songwriting on Sinner is a result of John 5, like the rest of the world, not having a ton else to do while working on it.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM GUITAR WORLDView All

Zakk's Dirty Dozen

From Ozzy Osbourne's “Miracle Man” to Generation Axe’s “Highway Star,” Zakk Wylde Discusses 12 Musical Milestones From A Career Spanning More Than Three Decades

10+ mins read
Guitar World
January 2022

Love at First Stang

Fender Kurt Cobain Jag-Stang

3 mins read
Guitar World
January 2022

Blitzkrieg Rock

PUNK LEGEND BRIAN BAKER KEEPS BAD RELIGION — AND FAKE NAMES, HIS LATEST PUNK SUPERGROUP — ROLLING WITH HIS STASH OF VINTAGE GUITARS

7 mins read
Guitar World
January 2022

Twice As Nice

FENDER DUAL MARINE LAYER REVERB AND DUEL PUGILIST DISTORTION

4 mins read
Guitar World
February 2022

Separated at Birth

DID YOU KNOW KIRK HAMMETT’S FAMOUS AND HISTORICALLY SIGNIFICANT 1959 GIBSON LES PAUL, GREENY, HAS A SIBLING? AND THAT IT’S OWNED BY HIS FRIEND, GIBSON BRAND PRESIDENT CESAR GUEIKIAN? NEITHER DID THEY! UNTIL VERY RECENTLY...

5 mins read
Guitar World
February 2022

Rockabilly Renaissance Man

CANADIAN GUITARIST PAUL PIGAT GETS BACK TO BASICS ON COUSIN HARLEY’S LET’S GO!

6 mins read
Guitar World
February 2022

The ROYAL TREATMENT

SIX-STRING HEAVYWEIGHT ERIC GALES DISCUSSES HIS TRIUMPHANT NEW ALBUM, CROWN, AND HIS JOURNEY TO ULTIMATE BLUES SALVATION

10+ mins read
Guitar World
February 2022

Romance Play - EASTMAN ROMEO LA

IF YOU’RE IN the market for a thin-line semi-hollow electric, there’s never been a better time to shop than the present. Whereas only a few years ago the selection was pretty much limited to large, double-cutaway 335-style models with a pair of humbucking pickups, today one can find semi-hollow guitars in a variety of body sizes and styles with a wider variety of pickup and electronic configurations.

3 mins read
Guitar World
February 2022

KINGPIN of the BLUES

JOE BONAMASSA RETURNS WITH TIME CLOCKS, HIS STRONGEST AND MOST DIVERSE ALBUM TO DATE — AND ALSO DISCUSSES HIS NEWFOUND ROLE AS 2021’S FOREMOST BLUES/ROCK IMPRESARIO

10+ mins read
Guitar World
February 2022

Joanne Shaw Taylor

WITH JOE BONAMASSA AT THE HELM, THE HERALDED BRITISH GUITARIST TACKLES 11 AWESOMELY OBSCURE BLUES GEMS BY LITTLE MILTON, MAGIC SAM, ALBERT KING AND MORE

2 mins read
Guitar World
February 2022