John 5 plays Trees on Sunday, March 26
Given all of his years touring with Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson and David Lee Roth, it's surprising that guitarist John "John 5" Lowery was hesitant to take his instrumental solo material on the road. His reasoning? He wasn't sure anyone would want to hear his work outside of these marquee projects.
He's amazed how many people have come out to his shows since he took the leap to promote his latest album, Season of the Witch, with his backing band the Creatures.
Lowery is a six-string wizard. He earned a high profile touring with Zombie and working on the soundtracks for Zombie's films. He continues to be a highly in-demand musician, having worked with acts as diverse as Ricky Martin to Paul Stanley, and recently did some session work with former Journey frontman Steve Perry.
Lowery is confident in his guitar skills, but he doesn't consider himself much of a frontman, which is why he's been so pleased with the tour so far. "I don't know how to talk to the crowd. I know how to play guitar and all I say is how much I appreciate them coming to the show," he says.
Right now he's focusing on his solo shows, but soon he'll be joining Zombie for another world tour. "It's going to be very busy, but it's what I do," he says.
Lowery recently found inspiration in a documentary on B.B. King, a man who played over 300 shows a year for decades. "If I have kind of a full schedule, I think I'll be just fine," he says.
Dallas is one of Lowery's top three places to play, behind Los Angeles and San Diego. And he assures us he's not trying to flatter. "We love Dallas. We recorded the Zombie DVD [The Zombie Hour Picture Show] in Dallas, and the crowd has always been incredible," he says. "There's everything you need there and I love the warm weather."
Hitting clubs as a solo act is not a demotion for Lowery. "Maybe because I have the best of both worlds, but I don't really mind playing small venues," he says. "When I was growing up, I would go see major artists in small clubs in Hollywood. They would get together and go play. I always thought that was so special and such a cool experience. I just love playing and I love having a guitar in my hands."
His solo material gives him a chance to let loose. Performance is important to him, no matter what the size of the stage is. "When I go play for people, I have it in my mind to play as well and as perfect and represent the song to the best of my abilities," he says. "It's the exact same way with my instrumental stuff. It's a diverse crowd. For some odd reason, people are loving this."
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Part of what makes Lowery's playing so appealing is his faithfulness. When he has played with Rob Zombie, or further in the past, with Marilyn Manson, he hasn't improvised. He plays what people want to hear. "If you have a piece of music written out — it could be from Mozart to Marilyn Manson — if you have sheet music, that is what you're supposed to play," he says. "I always play what is recorded. I give respect to the song."
Lowery has considered trying his hand at other solo creative pursuits, like writing a memoir, but similar to his attitude about solo performances, he's not sure if anyone would read it.
"Do people really want to hear my story about guitar solos and girls smoking cigarettes with their vagina?" he wonders. "Do they really care? I don't know. Maybe they do. I'll tell a bunch of crazy stories, but I will never, ever throw anyone under the bus ... I'm that person they can trust. That's why I wouldn't sell any books because I wouldn't talk bad about anyone. But I would tell funny stories."
John 5 and the Creatures, 8 p.m. Sunday, March 26, Trees 2709 Elm St., $16.50, treesdallas.com.