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© Amy Harris/ZUMA Press/Corbis
If you're the kind of guy who likes to sport horror film makeup while peeling off scarifying licks of doom with Rob Zombie, you must be cranking the metal 24/7, right? Not if you're the kind of guy who calls himself John 5. This shred monster doesn't live by headbanging along, not by a long stretch.
"You can't listen to the same thing every day," 5 says. "I mean, come one, would you eat the same food or wear the same clothes every day? That would get boring. You need some variety, certainly in the case with music."
Well-oiled guitar picking from the rural regions of the Southern United States is deep under 5's skin. In act, before he made his name as an axeman for Marilyn Manson, Zombie, and years before his own successful solo career, 5 caught country star k.d. lang's attention and joined her band in the late '90s.
"Country music is so important to me," he says. "It's always funny – with my friends growing up, and even now with some musicians I know, they'll say, 'Ah, country. I don't want to listen to that.' But then I'll start playing it and they'll be knocked out. It's completely different from the metal shred thing. And the guitar playing – you're using all of your fingers. The playing style is night and day."
On the following pages, John 5 runs down his not-so-guilty pleasures – five albums (the number of which is purely coincidental) that he would gladly play for any card-carrying metal maniac any time. "I'm very proud of these records," he says. "They've inspired me a lot. And I bet, if people check them out, they might feel the same way."