John 5 likens playing the Telecaster as a metal guitarist to “wearing a cowboy hat to a Slayer concert”
The guitarist also admits that he started with the Tele because he “thought that was the only electric guitar” shape that existed.
Image: Steve Jennings / Getty Images
Mötley Crüe guitarist John 5 has opened up about what it’s like being one of the few players in the metal genre who uses a Telecaster.
Speaking on a recent episode of The Kenny Aronoff Sessions, John recounts how he first got to know of the single-cutaway guitar as a kid, saying [via Killer Guitar Rigs]: “I loved music just like any kid, and I loved TV. I would see clips of bands playing on TV, and I was really drawn to it, for some reason. You know, it kind of picks you.”
“So I was watching ‘Hee Haw’, that show back in the ’70s — I loved it, and the whole family would watch it — and this little kid got up there and played. He was a banjo champion.”
“I don’t know why that impressed me so much, but it literally changed my life,” says the musician. “It was an epiphany. I was so young, but I knew that banjo wasn’t super cool, [and] I was like, ‘I want to play guitar.’”
John also reveals that he ended up picking the Tele out of everything because he thought this was the only shape an electric guitar could have.
“I was so little — I had to be six — and I was like, and ‘I want to play electric guitar,’ and they all were playing Telecasters, so I thought that the only shape was a Telecaster.”
Asked if he’d listened to any other bands at that point, the guitarist says: “It was just that in the beginning, and I was like, ‘Wow!’ My sister had Beatles records and Stones [records], but for some reason, this really made a connection to me. I asked for a guitar for Christmas, I got a guitar, and I started taking lessons right away.”
“And I was so obsessed for some reason, it was just more important than food or anything, or sleep or anything, I was just so obsessed with it. And it’s kind of what it’s like today still.”
Host Kenny Aronoff then commented that there aren’t many guitar players in the rock and metal genre who play Telecasters, to which John replies “That’s because of the ‘Hee Haw’ thing… because I thought that was the only electric guitar.”
“It’s like wearing a cowboy hat to a Slayer concert. It’s just weird, and I wasn’t trying to be weird. It’s just what I’ve always played.”