Shocking audiences is nothing new for John 5.
The position of lead guitarist is one he has held for heavy-metal giants Marilyn Manson and, for the past 11 years, Rob Zombie's reliable axe-man.
What may surprise fans is what John 5 brings to the table for his instrumental solo tour, which is thematically ghoulish, just not in the way you may think.
During a February phone interview, John 5, whose real name is John Lowery, said his current show is visually inspired by vintage Alice Cooper, but with a twist. In many ways, his solo concerts are the opposite of what fans are accustomed to seeing when John 5 is thrashing away in full makeup and boogieman garb. He enjoys jumping styles and crisscrossing genres, from bluegrass to flamenco to speed-metal and back again.
"Especially for us, there's so much going on ... It's nonstop," he said. "With instrumental shows, I don't think anybody has done (this). This is so completely, utterly different."
Tonight, John 5 and the Creatures perform at the Sellersville Theater in Sellersville, Bucks County. On March 16, he heads to the Highline Ballroom in New York City.
Guaranteed to be included in the set is John 5's recent single, the instrumental slow-burner "Behind the Nut Love." The song, which was released in February, features Lowery exploring his country-blues influences by using a guitar tuned to an open chord, and playing behind the nut of the instrument to mimic the sound of a lap-steel guitar. (Lowery has released eight solo albums under his John 5 moniker, the most recent being 2014's Careful With That Axe.)
"I've always wanted to play pedal steel, but never learned," he said. "Being a kid watching Hee Haw, I remember listening to that instrument. I thought, 'This sounds so good'."
"Behind the Nut Love" is the latest entry in a series of new singles, and accompanying music videos, released on the first of every month -- a move John 5 said he plans to adhere to throughout the year. This month's single, the prog-metal hybrid "Making Monsters," was unleashed March 1. That song will be featured on Lowery's upcoming ninth solo album, Guitars, T!its and Monsters, is set to drop later this year, according to Blabbermouth.net.
"I have one thing in mind. It's 'go'," he said.
After wrapping up his solo trek, John 5 will return to the road for a spring/summer tour with Rob Zombie. The latter will be promoting his sixth studio album, The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration, which drops April 29.
John 5, who first teamed with Rob Zombie for the latter's 2006 album Educated Horses, said Electric Warlock is his favorite album by the "Dragula" singer and White Zombie "by far." He said Electric Warlock has a similar vibe to that of Rob Zombie's 1998 debut album, Hellbilly Deluxe, and White Zombie's Astro Creep: 2000. "The record turned out phenomenal," he said.
Being on stage with Rob Zombie presents its own set of challenges and dynamics, said the Michigan native. He admitted there have been a few close calls with fire and pyrotechnics, but so far he has managed to avoid injury.
"You kind of just lose yourself. You're aware (of what's happening), but also concentrating on what you're doing," he said. "You're playing and seeing the crowd and watching what's going on around you. It's like a car crash, it happens so quick."
For his upcoming outing with Rob Zombie, John 5 said the pyrotechnics have been ratcheted up to new level. "There's so much pyro. It's an insane, insane show," he said.
In addition to the new Rob Zombie album, John 5 scored the music for Rob Zombie's latest directorial effort, 31. Creating music for films is challenging, but rewarding work, John 5 confessed. "You're creating emotion, you're creating a sense of intensity. But you don't want to mess with the dialogue," he said. "You don't want (the music) to be a distraction, which is difficult to do."
John 5 performs 7:30 tonight at the Sellersville Theater, 24 W. Temple Ave., Sellersville, Bucks County. He performs March 16 at the Highline Ballroom in New York City. For tickets and more information, visit john-5.com.