On Stage: John 5 and The Creature to rock Sellersville

By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

John 5

Prog rock fans have a lot of concerts from which to choose every year and the smart ones know that anytime John 5 and the Creatures play the area, it is a concert not-to-be-missed.

On March 12, John 5 and his band return to the Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com) to treat fans to an evening of progressive music with an emphasis on tasty guitar work.

John 5 is a musician with impressive credentials. He has been the guitarist for several arena-filling acts including Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson and David Lee Roth.

He is also a solo artist with nine guitar albums in his discography. His most recent album was recorded with his band The Creatures – Ian Ross on bass and Logan Miles Nix on drums. The album — “It’s Alive!” — owes a lot to the previous disc “Season of the Witch,” which was released in 2017.

Both albums relate heavily to the Sellersville Theater. “It’s Alive!” was recorded last April when the band played Sellersville while touring in support of “Season on the Witch.”

Now, John 5 and The Creatures are almost ready with a new album of sonic adventures.

“I’m working hard on an album, a video and the tour,” said John 5, during a recent phone interview from his home in Los Angeles. “I’m really, really busy – and I love it. It’s a labor of love. I really enjoy it.

“The new album is almost done. It should be out in July. Right now, I’m releasing singles and videos. It’s a great way to promote the music. It keeps an album alive.

“Making videos is so challenging – so difficult to do. A lot of these videos are animated. The new video ‘Zoinks’ is all animated – and it took forever.

“There is no pressure for a release date for the album. I have no manager and no record company. It’s the greatest thing ever that I’m doing.

“Most of the music is finished,” said John 5. “Everything is basically done and mixed but I’m still working on a couple things. It’s a wonderful, wonderful record.”

John 5’s new album will offer a wide variety of music with everything from samples to pedal steel…from EDM to Metallica-style metal.

“You don’t get bored with this album,” said John 5. “It takes you in every which direction. It has a lot of diversity. That’s just who I am.”

John 5 talked about his connection with the Sellersville Theater and how the live recording happened.

“It really came about unexpectedly,” said John 5. “We were at the Sellersville Theater setting up. A guy asked if we wanted to record the show that night and we said yeah. I told the band to be careful with their playing because of it. And, I told the audience we were recording.

“We didn’t change the order of the set list. I just told the guys – let’s do a perfect show. It’s such a great place and the people were awesome. Everybody that was at that show is on this record.

“‘Season of the Witch’ is my favorite record. It’s been incredible playing all these songs.”

“Season of the Witch” is a fully-instrumental album that features his band The Creatures and showcases experimentation with various genres such as western swing, Spanish flamenco, heavy metal and straight-ahead rock.

“I’ve been doing instrumental albums on my own since 2004,” said John 5. “What I did with this album, I started with the way people get their music. Last year, I put a song with a video on YouTube. Everyone watches videos. So, I put out one-a-month for six months.

“They were getting a million views. I would have never gotten a million spins on radio. When I was done with the videos, I started rehearsing for the first tour.”

Both John 5 and his fans are liking the new album.

“I worked very hard on this record because I had time to do it,” said John 5, who has written for acts Avril Lavigne, Ricky Martin, Paul Stanley, Rod Stewart, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Garbage.

“I did everything at Doghouse Studio in Woodland Hills (California). It’s a good thing I don’t have a studio in my home because if I did, I don’t think I’d ever leave. I play guitar so much – hours and hours and hours every day.

“When I play live, I get a very diverse crowd.  When you come to our shows, you’ll see fans of Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson, kids who like shredders, adults who are into hard rock and guitar fans.

“That’s all I want to do – inspire people. And, I just want to influence kids to pick up guitar.”

Video link for John 5 —  https://youtu.be/1uWAGs10D6Q.

There are times when losing is not necessarily a loss.

We Three

We Three, a band of siblings from McMinnville, Oregon made it all the way to the semifinals of the “America’s Got Talent” television show and that could hardly be considered a loss.

We Three is a family affair featuring siblings, Joshua Humlie, Bethany Blanchard and Manny Humlie. Joshua plays the piano and drums – sometimes simultaneously, Manny the guitar, and Bethany the bass.

The trio gained great national exposure and used the appearances on the show to propel the group to making its debut album. Now, the band is touring in support of its debut album and its “Lifeline Tour” is coming to the area on March 13 at the World Café Live (3025 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, 215-222-1400, www.worldcafelive.com).

The band had a three-month journey competing on “America’s Got Talent” – a journey that screeched to a halt one stop before the end of the line – the finals.

“We have no regrets about how things went on ‘America’s Got Talent,’” said Bethany, during a phone interview last week as the band travelled in its van to session of Billboard Live. “We showed people what we can do.”

Bethany (25), Manny (22) and Joshua (28) have been making music together a long time.

“We all officially started piano at age 10,” said Manny. “We started playing together as a group 10 years ago. We would do arrangements of Stevie Wonder songs. We played more covers than originals.”

Joshua said, “We had also been playing with our dad and his siblings’ band when we were young. I started playing percussion with him. When we started playing with the three of us, our first gig was at a farmers’ market in McMinnville.”

Manny said, “In our area, we have a lot of wineries. So, we did the wine tour for a couple years. Then we shifted into being a wedding band.”

Bethany said, “When we started playing originals, that’s when we moved to a different level. That was three years ago.”

Then, We Three moved to an even higher level thanks to the TV talent show.

“We were playing gigs before ‘America’s Got Talent’ but being on that show pushed us over the edge,” said Joshua.

“Now, our fans want us to play original music,” added Bethany.

We Three’s fans are getting what they band. The three siblings released their debut album on December 14.

“We cut the album with producer Keith Sommers in McMinnville last summer,” said Manny. “Most of the songs were new. There was only one really old song.

“Fans are drawn into our songs by the combination of lyrics and music. For us, lyrics are important. People can tell if you’re fake.”

Bethany said, “This tour is our first headline tour. We just had our first show last night.”

The tour will feature a one-of-a-kind augmented reality poster, developed by world-renowned IT-artist and creator of AR.  Gallery. All posters will be encrypted with a QR code that when scanned with a smartphone through the AR. Gallery App (available in Apple App Store and Google Play Store, or via a link on the band’s website) will bring the poster to life and transport the viewer into We Three’s “alternate world,” where the band will be in conversation about the tour and offering the sounds of exclusive unreleased music.

“We knew the guy who created the poster,” said Bethany. “We met with him in L.A. and came up with the idea together. It’s an augmented reality poster. Hold your phone to the poster and it takes you to a different world. We tell you about the tour. And, there are also a couple secret things – and a back door that takes you to a concert hall. It’s nice because we’re able to constantly update it.”

We Three may have lost the chance to be in the final round but the three talented young musicians definitely came away as winners.

Video link for We Three – https://youtu.be/FH-VMtAU2-U.

The show at World Café Live (3025 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, 215-222-1400, www.worldcafelive.com) will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25.

A Fragile Tomorrow

On the same night, another band featuring three siblings will be playing Philly. On March 13, A Fragile Tomorrow will headline a show at Bourbon and Branch (705 North Second Street, Philadelphia, 215-238-0660, bourbonandbranchphilly.com).

A Fragile Tomorrow, which features singer/guitarist Sean Kelly, guitarist Brendan Kelly, bassist Shaun Rhoades, and drummer-turned-synth player Dominic Kelly, initially made waves as a leading power pop group and then began a natural shift towards more progressive and complex compositions and production a few years ago. That led to a major reshuffle with Dominic Kelly moving to synths and the introduction of recording and touring drummer Josh Kean.

“Our first show on this run is Philly,” said Sean Kelly, during a phone interview last week from his home in Savannah, Georgia.

“It’s just a short run. Most of us are married now so we do smaller tours. It’s still the same four guys – Brendan, Dominic, Shaun and me. These shows will be without a drummer.

A Fragile Tomorrow began as a trio of teen brothers who rose above a difficult, tragedy-laden childhood and channeled their emotions into smart, catchy, dreamy pop music.

“We’re originally from Montgomery, New York,” said Kelly. “We moved to Charleston, South Carolina 10 years ago. We had toured the South a lot and had a lot of friends in South Carolina.

“We had done a tour in South Carolina. When we got home from that tour, our parents suggested we move to South Carolina. Once we got here, we fell in love with it.”

A Fragile Tomorrow released its debut album “Wishful Thinking” in 2006 and its sophomore disc “Beautiful Noise” in 2008. The band followed with “Tripping Over Nothing” (2010), “The Palmetto EP” (2010), “Live at Awendaw Green” (2011), “Be Nice Be Careful” (2013), “Belgique EP” (2014), “Make Me Over” (2015) and “Generation Loss” this year.

“We did our first two albums in New York,” said Kelly. “Since then, basically all our recording has been done in South Carolina. The last two were done at our own studio and were self-produced. We got signed to MPress Records a few years ago and they’ve allowed us to do whatever we wanted.”

The members A Fragile Tomorrow have collectively collaborated with many renowned musicians including Gail Ann Dorsey (David Bowie), Mark Hart (Crowded House), Emily Saliers (Indigo Girls), Susan Cowsill, Peter Holsapple (the dBs) and Lucy Wainwright Roche.

“We’ve been listening to krautrock, Devo and prog. Krautrock has been a big influence,” said Kelly. “Peter Holsapple has ben a friend of ours for years. He told us – you have to work with Mitch Easter because he’s really into krautrock.”

“Generation Loss” was co-produced by Ted Comerford and mixed by Mitch Easter –two of the top names in the business.

“It was a super team effort,” said Kelly.

“Generation Loss” is a quasi-psychedelic pop soundscape touching upon themes of loss and regeneration in our questioning, chaotic social times.

“When we realized we had something new, we decided not to do power pop,” said Kelly. “It’s more left-of-center – just trying to evolve more and challenge ourselves. Brendan and I co-wrote the songs. A lot of the riffs are his. But the album was a real collaboration. Dom brought in ideas and Shaun contributed lot.

“Making the album happened over the course of a year. A lot of ideas were sent back-and-forth. The recording was the quickest part for us. Ted has his studio in downtown Savannah – right in the shopping district. It’s a great studio with a lot of amazing gear.”

Kelly also works as a music critic at a newspaper in the Palmetto State. With a dual career as a rock musician and a newspaper journalist, it’s obvious that Kelly isn’t “in it for the money.” Instead, he’s doing what he loves – a trait he shares with his bandmates.

Video link for A Fragile Tomorrow – https://youtu.be/hfba2iOgq58.

The show at Bourbon and Branch, which has Sleepmonster as the opening act, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $8.

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