Simple rig, spectacular sound—it’s a phenomenon that has proven quite common to Telecaster masters over the years, as has been demonstrated by such Tele heroes as Jimmy Bryant, Danny Gatton, Keith Richards, and others. In the modern era, upholding this Tele tradition of minimal gear and maximum magic is John 5. In Episode 13 of the No Guitar Is Safe podcast, Mr. 5 gets a stunning array of sounds through just a cable, a small practice amp, and his signature model Fender Telecaster.
The interview is brought to you by Audio-Technica and their System 10 Stompbox Digital Wireless system. The interview opens with 5 getting an array of wild Telecaster sounds while performing his song “Villisca.”
“I love performing instrumental music,” says the Rob Zombie lead guitarist, who is launching a tour with his solo band, John 5 and the Creatures, starting in Ramona, California, on November 4.
Employing the classic Telecaster tactic of behind-the-nut-bends as well as featuring more aggressive approaches, such as getting animal noises by mashing the low string against the neck pickup, “Villisca” shows how much fun a guitarist can have on Fender’s famous plank.
“I always want to be able to play things with just a cable and an amp,” says 5, who also debuts some of his new instrumentals on the podcast, including the faux-pedal-steel tour-de-force, “Behind the Nut.”
“In the studio, it’s pretty much the same deal,” says 5. “I might put a Boss Super OverDrive in front of a Marshall head, but that’s about it. I keep the gear simple.”
In the interview, 5 also discusses how he built his career—how he left Michigan while still a teenager, came out to California, took jobs serving frozen yogurt and parking celebrities’ cars, and ultimately ended up working with everyone from Salt-N-Pepa, K.D. Lang, Rick Springfield, Rob Halford, and David Lee Roth to Marilyn Manson and his current boss, Rob Zombie.
“Playing with Zombie has been my dream gig,” says 5. “We have the best chemistry, on stage and off. People always ask me, ‘If you could play with anyone, who would it be?’ I tell them ‘I’m playing with him.’”
To hear John 5’s No Guitar Is Safe podcast, open your favorite Podcasts and search for “No Guitar Is Safe,” or simply click the iTunes, Soundcloud or RSS links below.