JOHN 5 On His Unreleased 2007 Album With DAVID LEE ROTH: 'It's Just Me And DAVE Playing And Recording Live'

October 28, 2023

During an appearance on yesterday's (Friday, October 27) episode of SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk", John 5 was asked about the recently released song "The Shit That Killed Elvis" which was recorded in 2007 with VAN HALEN singer David Lee Roth for an album that has yet to see the light of day. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I really like that song. I think it's really hooky and I think Dave sounds amazing on it.

"I think what's magical about those songs is it's just me and Dave — it's just me and Dave playing and recording live," John 5 continued. "And I think that's what you don't really hear a lot today.

"Whenever I hear this stuff, I can visualize it. And it's pretty magical that way, 'cause it's, like, 'Okay.' It reminds me of back in the day when they were recording and the records were spinning and they were making the record as it was recording because you can't mess up. And especially you don't wanna mess up around David Lee Roth. So it's really cool that way. I could just visualize just me and Dave going through these songs and recording 'em that way."

Asked if Dave notifies him every time he releases one of the songs from the 2007 album or if he just finds out about it once they have already been made available, John 5 said: "I just find out. And I'm, like, 'Oh, rad.' But I really think the greatest song that just broke my heart, too, was 'Nothing Could Have Stopped Us Back Then Anyway'. And that is the one with the video, with the VAN HALEN video, and it's about Dave and the band and Eddie [Van Halen] and things like that. That one really is something special to me."

John 5 went on to say that he would like to rework some of the songs from the 2007 sessions "'Fair Warning' style — heavy, distorted guitars and riffs and solos and all that cool stuff. But I don't know. We'll see."

Roth mentioned "The Shit That Killed Elvis" when he discussed his unreleased John 5 album in a Rolling Stone interview back in 2013. Asked if he wanted to take those songs with John 5 to the stage, Roth said: "Absolutely. That's what it's aimed at. It's autobiographic. 'Somewhere Over The Rainbow Bar And Grill' is the opening theme song, and it's about an Indiana kid who goes to sleep — think the Wizard Of Oz — and the characters in his life, the butcher, the baker and the newspaper guy, pop out of posters and sing him a song called 'Giddy-Up!' And he finds his way to all the good things in life, having discovered rock in the '60s, and there's a song titled 'Alligator Pants' — yes, I own a pair, I wore them for the last two tours. And things go horribly left-of-center wrong, of course, when you sell your soul to the devil, and one of the tunes is called 'The Shit That Killed Elvis'. So yeah, it's pretty stellar material."

In 2020, Roth included five previously unreleased songs in The Roth Project, an online comic narrated by the legendary VAN HALEN singer, with music from John 5 on guitar and bass, Gregg Bissonette on drums, Brett Tuggle on keyboards, and Luis Conte on percussion. The recently released "Manda Bala" and the other four tracks — "Giddy-Up!", "Somewhere Over The Rainbow Bar And Grill", "Alligator Pants" and "Lo-Rez Sunset" — were recorded at Henson Recording Studios in Hollywood, California.

John 5 previously spoke about the recording sessions for the unreleased Roth record in an interview with the "Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz", saying: "We had a great time. We had a blast — a lot of laughs, a lot of fun. I'm just so happy that I had that cool working vibe with Dave that we can just jump into the studio anytime and knock out some songs. And I'm very lucky 'cause not a lot of people get a chance to do that with Dave.

He added: "We were all in there together — I remember we were just all in there together. And that's how it was. We were all just doing it together — kind of like the old days, and he wanted to do it like that. And it really was a lot of fun. We had so much fun doing it. And it's one of my fondest memories."

In August 2021, John 5 told that the rest of the unreleased Roth record is in the same vein as the songs that have come out, which have a singer/songwriter sound. "[Dave] wanted to do this kind of a more California sessions type of thing," the guitarist explained. "And he's such an artist, I was, like, 'Whatever you want to do, I'm there for you.' So it is that kind of vibe. But there's a lot of multi tracks and different acoustic parts that all work together. It's kind of orchestrated, if you will."

John 5 got his first big break playing on Roth's solo album, "DLR Band", before landing stints with Marilyn Manson and now Rob Zombie. His latest sessions with the iconic VAN HALEN frontman apparently took place a decade and a half ago, with John 5 unveiling a snippet of the album during an interview with Masters Of Shred back in May 2019.

Four years ago, Roth was asked by Meltdown of the Detroit radio station WRIF if his LP with John 5 will be made available at some point. He responded: "It will. There's been a revision of things, and I can start making real plans and start marching into the future. And, of course, you'll start hearing that material. This is material that we wrote variously for me solo and for VAN HALEN, and it's quite a bank of stuff."

Back in 2015, John 5 told Guitar Player magazine that the sessions for his unreleased Roth album were remarkably relaxed. "I would just go to his house and I'd write these songs with him, and he would say, 'Let's go into the studio,'" John 5 explained. "So he would go to Henson studio and record these songs. They came out… They're so good. They're so good. And we've got Gregg Bissonette playing drums on it, and I played the bass, and they're really great songs."

The guitarist said that Roth's vocals on the album sound "like nothing you've ever heard. It's old VAN HALEN — sounds like 'Could This Be Magic?' or anything like that. It's just that sound, that tone."

In a 2014 interview, John 5 described the LP as "11 of the greatest songs you'll ever hear, and it's just me and Dave, and we had Gregg Bissonette play drums on it. And it's unbelievable," he said. "You know, just great, great songs."

Photo credit: Israel Perez

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