Features > On the Horizon > Loser
Antigone Rising


Official Site



   Think hard. When was the last time you remember talking about a guitarist? Not just any good axeman, but a true virtuoso, a guy who you can identify purely by a single name (Page! Vai!).

   Say hi to John 5, the first guitar hero of the 21st century. You may know him from his stints with Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, Rob Halford and David Lee Roth. But that's only a very limited side to his talent. John 5 has actually been one of the music world's most in-demand session men and songwriters; his name has appeared on records ranging from Grammy-winning country artist K.D. Lang to the Go-Gos to Salt-N-Pepa.

   "I just love all types of music," he says. "When I played with K.D. Lang, I was really into country and studying it a lot. Same when I work with the Go-Gos or when I do my own instrumental records, which is kind of like a combination of everything I love - it's bluegrass meets Slipknot meets whatever. I just have to be diverse to keep my sanity."

   Until now, nobody's really let John 5 realize his true potential. That's going to change. LOSER is primed to be one of the biggest rock bands in the world. Joined by Joe Grah on vocals and veteran music hands Glendon (drums) and Charles Lee (bass), Loser is something entirely new and different for the guitarist, and today's music world as well. While the album has its share of technical wizardry (call it the "holy shit!" factor), it's also possibly the catchiest album of the last twelve months.

   Easier said then done. Marlette, best known for his work with Black Sabbath, Seether, Shinedown and Saliva, flew down to Texas to check out a singer of a local "buzz" band. "They were terrible!" says John, laughing. "But the headliner was great, more specifically the lead singer. Bob just said 'Everyone who's not the singer take one step back,' a few flights to Los Angeles, and we were on our way."

   That would be Joe Grah, a former punk rock drummer, BMX rider, skateboarder and, most recently, vocalist for the popular Texas band Jibe. If John comes off as measured and amazingly even-keeled, then Grah is his dynamic opposite: a charismatic, hyperactive, dramatic, funny, reach-for-the-stars kind of guy. Grah brings the elements of danger and intensity to this dynamic duo.

   "I've always felt a kinship with great, solid rock music that's melodic and thought-provoking," says Grah. "I'm fueled by angst, beauty, love and pain. When I met John, it just felt right. Personally, I was in a sort of fetal position, broken down, beaten, at the end of my rope; I've had to climb my way back up and I'm finally excited to be alive.

   That dynamic between John 5 and Joe has caused a few sparks. First and foremost was the band's name. John took the moniker "Loser" as a snub to his hometown of Grosse Pointe, Michigan. "That place is like Beverly Hills times ten," he says. "It's about money, popularity, looks. A lot of kids committed suicide because their test scores weren't good enough, and all the rocker guys were 'losers.' I heard the word so much that it just kind of stuck with me.

Grah wasn't as convinced...at first. "But then late one night I had an epiphany, the album should be titled (Just Like You). From that moment on everything began to align with an overwhelming sense of relevance and clarity."

   The newly christened band began recording the material John had worked on with producer Marlette, alongside new songs all featuring Grah's passionate lyrical style. "For me, it wasn't brain surgery -- I just wanted great songs," says the guitarist. Bob is really good at saying 'that sucks' if something didn't work. Bob's an amazing coach."

   The end result, Just Like You, is direct, honest, heavy and yet as catchy as any good pop record. And it's got depth. Opener "The First Time" both reflects Grah's emotional rawness ("this is the first time/I can remember all the days I gave away") while sounding positively glam. Potential single "Down", meanwhile, is a guitar anthem with an indelible hook, and "Girl Like You" features a dance-rock vibe that recalls Bowie, LCD Sound system and Mechanical Animals-era Manson all at once. Oh, and the band isn't ashamed of full-on, lighters-in-the-air ballads, as "By My Side" and the first single "Nobody Knows" can attest.

   John thought it was easy. His opposite disagreed. "I went through a lot making this record," says Grah. "It reflects an extremely volatile and transitory period in my life."

   The band recently completed a tour with Staind, and plans to head out on the road for the rest of the year. Look for LOSER to impact your part of the world in 2006!