John 5 wasn’t planning to do a live album. It’s not something one does spur-of-the-moment like.
“If you’re going to make a live record, you have to prepare,” says the guitarist, talking in advance of his performance with his band, The Creatures, Saturday night at Full Circle Brewing Company.
But there he is, on tour last year at the Sellersville Theater in Sellersville, Pa., and the sound guy offers to record the night’s set and he thinks, “Oh my god, everything is right here.”
So, he gathers his band and tells them to forgo the typical on-stage antics in favor of precision in playing. The recording becomes the aptly titled, “It’s Alive,” which is available now in a limited edition double LP (it’s also on digital formats).
In a way, it wasn’t that much of a stretch from what the band does most nights, says the guitarist, who is best known for stints with best known for working alongside metal icons Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie.
It’s a friendly competition he has with the band.
“We see how tight and how perfect we can get every show,” he says. “When it all comes together. It’s pretty wonderful.”
Here, John 5 talks about his favorite live albums:
‘Live After Death,’ Iron Maiden (1985)
“Everybody always jokes, ‘Hello Long Beach,’ ” John 5 says, in an impression of Maiden singer Bruce Dickenson. The line itself is a reference to the Long Beach Arena, where the album was recorded. The fact that its gets referenced so often is owed to the fact that “Live After Death,” is considered (by Ultimate Classic Rock at least) as the ultimate live album of the decade, both in terms of its content (a four-sided, 18-track LP that runs more than 100 minutes ) and delivery.
It came with dozens of photos and statistics on the tour. The album served as inspiration for the packaging and release of “It’s Alive,” John 5 says.
‘Alive in America,’ Steely Dan (1995)
If there is a certain level of perfect that John 5 and his band looks for in live shows, it’s Steely Dan perfection.
Indeed, Steely Dan is known for taking its musicianship to next levels. Like using different drummers to record the verse and chorus of a single song. “These guys are such perfectionists. Really like beyond perfection,” John 5 says.
He’s listened to the “Alive in America,” more than a few times, trying to pick out any imperfections and had fun doing it. The album isn’t perfect, FYI.
“It’s pretty close,” he says.
‘Alive!’ Kiss (1975)
Kiss was (and still is) a band you need to see live. Which, was what its record company was trying to capture when its released “Alive!” in 1975. John 5 was four years old, too young to buy the album, obviously, or to really understand the music. But it left an impression on his young mind.
“I would just fantasize about my self being at the show,” he says. “It was so, so cool for me.”
It doesn’t hurt that is also sounds amazing. Even if parts were overdubbed.
‘Alive II,’ Kiss (1977)
Putting aside the song list (which pulls from “Destroyer,” “Rock and Roll Over” and “Love Gun”) what makes “Alive II” so great is all the extras that came with the record.
“It’s the gate fold and the tattoos and the bootleg,” the guitarist says.
This is Kiss at the height of its marketability. The album included a set of temporary tattoos (a skull and crossbones for Gene Simmons) and an order form for official Kiss merchandise and one to enlist in the Kiss Army.
With Stellar Corpses and and locals
Six other noteworthy events happening this week:
- Central Valley Guitar Summit feature concert 7:30 p.m. Friday. OAB Auditorium at Fresno City College. $8-$12. 559-442-4600 x 8461, www.fresnocitycollege.edu
- AlleyWave Alley Party Noon, Saturday. Broadway Event Center, 721 Broadway St. Free and family friendly. AlleyWaveFresno on Facebook
- Tower Car Show 10 a.m. Saturday. Olive and Wishon Avenues. Free to attend. 559-497-8362, www.towerdistrict.org, www.hotrodsfresno.com
- Los Lonely Boy 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 17. Fulton 55, 875 Divisadero St. $30-$35. 559-412-7400, www.fulton55.com
- Dixie Dregs 8 p.m. Thursday, April 19. Tower Theatre, 815 East Olive Ave. $41.50-$81.50. 559-485-9050, www.towertheatrefresno.com