20 Questions with Johnny 5

Johnny 5 is cover band in Daejeon, South Korea.  Each member was asked to answer Korea Guitar’s 20 Questions.   The answers may shock you, move you to tears or just make you shake your head.  Here they are in no particular order.

Cassandra Lynn Mech -Vocals/baking

cass1 When and why did you begin singing?
I began singing in the school choir in 7th grade. I actually only joined because I needed another class and wanted an easy A. I was a terrible singer back then, so it took a lot of hard work from me and my church’s choir director to turn me into something decent. Who knew an “easy A class” would change my life so much!

2 What was the first tune you learned?
The first tune I learned was “And This Shall Be For Music” by Mary Lynn Lightfoot. I can still remember how breathy and terrible I was for my first performance!

3 What famous musicians do you admire and why?
Although there are many musicians I admire, the first one who came to my mind was Beyonce. She is such a talented and strong woman who takes her life into her hands. I was recently really proud of her VMA’s performance where she had a quote from Chimaanda Ngozi Adichie (“We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls ‘You can have ambition, but not too much’.”) and the word FEMINIST. It’s so powerful and inspiring because many people fear the word feminist. Beyonce not only brings music that many people love, but she is leader in a social movement for equal rights for men AND women. Since Beyonce is a role model to many, people are now starting to shed their negative connotation of feminism and become more aware of the gender equality issues that persist in society.

4 Who taught you to play?
The director of my church’s small choir, Becky Viebrock, taught me how to sing. I often think about how different my life would be if I hadn’t started singing. Becky is an older woman, but boy I don’t know if I’ve met anyone with as much personality as her. She always encouraged me to keep going. She was the one to say ‘yes you can!’ whenever I decided I wasn’t able to do something.

5 What was your first guitar?
I got a guitar for my birthday when I was young. I took one lesson at the community center and we decided I was better off not being a guitarist. Now I have a ukulele. I have an issue with rhythm so as long as I don’t sing, I can slowly play songs.

6 What was the best/worst gig you’ve ever played?
My best performance was when I had my joint senior recital with one of my friends. A bunch of my friends, family, and friend’s family came to listen to me sing musical theater and classical music. I know that’s not everyone’s top choice in genres of music, so I was surprised and happy to have such a big crowd. I felt beautiful and on top of the world that day.
My worst performance was one time I sang at my church. The song I was singing really hit close to home (it was “For Good” from Wicked –sang about how my church has changed me). I was a bit emotional in general that day I guess because I burst into tears halfway through the song. Some old lady in the back row of my small church asked her friend in a ‘whisper’ “Why is she crying??” Talk about embarrassing.

7 What is your favorite album?
I’m always changing and developing my taste in music, so that’s hard to say. Right now I think Jamiroquai is awesome though. It’s great music to have some wine and cook to.

8 Why do you play music?
I play music because it makes me happy. I love sharing my emotions and voice with others. I’d like to think they enjoy it too!

9 How do you handle mistakes during a show?
Generally if I forget words, I start singing gibberish until I switch to the correct lyrics, or I just sing the words of a different verse. I try to look over the lyrics right before I sing so I don’t get too nervous and mess up.

10 Do you get nervous before a show?
I don’t think I’ve ever been completely calm before a show! It’s much easier going up on stage now that I have a band around me. Now I’m not always the center of attention, so I feel less under pressure. My mother always said that I’m always hardest on myself after my performances.

11 Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?
Do it because it makes you happy and share the joy with others. Don’t be afraid to try new things. I never ever thought I would be in a band because I thought my voice was only suited for classical music. I was able to work past that insecurity with the positive environment that my band has. I love you Johnny 5!

12 How often do you practice?
I try to practice at least 3 times a week. I generally put the new songs on repeat when I’m at home and listen to them for hours on end while singing along or cleaning my apartment. Then when I’m comfortable enough, I find the karaoke version and sing to that on repeat.

13 How do you feel about performing shows in a leopard thong?
Oh my. I’ll need to do a whole lot more working out before that happens.

14 As an 80’s cover band shouldn’t you be wearing more spandex?
My leggings have spandex in them? There’re only so much clothes a woman can buy.

15 If you could make a band with living or dead musicians who would it be with?
I would sing with Michael Buble or Josh Groban because…YES.

16 Who do you feel is the most important member of Johnny 5 and why?
I feel like I can’t answer that properly because everyone has their function in the band. If we don’t have one member, then the sound feels empty. I’m going to say everyone is equally important because everyone plays their part.

18 Zeppelin or The Who? Why?
I prefer Zeppelin because I love their songs. I feel like I could listen Kashmir or Immigrant Song on repeat every day!

19 What is your favorite song that you cover in Johnny 5? Why is it your favorite?
I love Stroke because it has a badass feel to it. It sounds lame now that I’m writing this down, but I feel really cool when I sing it. Maybe it’s because I get to pump my fist in the air and get everyone excited. Or it might be because the guitar part is awesome the whole way through.

20 How do you balance your musical requirements with your job, friends and significant other?
I try to listen to the songs and sing along to them whenever I have downtime. It really helps that my boyfriend is a musician with his own band, so we support and help each other. I’m thankful that even though my mom isn’t here, I have someone who is still happy to give me constructive criticism to help me improve.

Francia Roussow – Background vocals/Tambourine

francia1) When and why did you begin playing?
When: as a baby…Why: who doesn’t like music?

2) What was the first tune you learned?
Mary Had A Little Lamb (I was 2 years old and could play it on the piano)

3) What musicians do you admire and why?
Recently got some new respect for Adam Levine. He has amazing control over his voice and can do some perfect imitations of other famous singers. Generally I admire almost all famous musicians, since they obviously must be doing something great to be famous…

4) Who taught you to play?
My instrumental skills are very poor, but I learned how to play some piano as a kid from my mom and my cousins, and some guitar from my grade 3 teacher, and some recorder on my own. Nothing professional, though.

5) What was your first guitar?
My first guitar belonged to my aunt, who moved to Venezuela. I owned it (or so I thought) for a year when I was 12, then my cousin claimed it and I never had a guitar again. It was too expensive to buy one in South Africa at the time.

6) What was the best/worst gig you’ve ever played?
Have never “played” a gig… I have been a choir singer most of my life, did one year of A Capella in Uni. That was a fun “gig”! For one song I had to sing Timone’s part in “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” from The Lion King.

7) What is your favorite album?
I go through phases. Usually have a craze for movie soundtracks. At the moment it is The Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Mix Vol. 1. It doesn’t count as an album, but it is what I listen to most at the moment. In general I love all The Beatles’ albums, all of Queen’s, and then some South African bands from my childhood.

8) Why do you play music?
It makes me happy

9) How do you handle mistakes during a show?
Pull a face, look at Cassandra with big eyes, dance it off, flirt with the crowd so they would either not notice, or forgive me if they did. 😉

10) Do you get nervous before a show?
Yes, and REALLY thirsty!

11) Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?
Just do it, say yes to everything, practice may not always make perfect, but it definitely improves.

12) How often do you practice?
Once a week with the band, everyday a little on my own.

13) How do you feel about performing shows in a leopard thong?
Not in favor… I don’t do animal prints… not even when it’s a shirt!

14) As an 80’s cover band shouldn’t you be wearing more spandex?
Yes, we should. Where can we get more spandex?

15) If you could make a band with living or dead musicians who would it be with?
Colt on trumpet and keyboard, Matt on bass, Ken on guitar, Jude on the drums, and Cassandra as lead. I think they are awesome as is…

16) Who do you feel is the most important member of Johnny 5 and why?
That’s like asking which planet is the most important. If one should disappear, our solar system would be out of balance and we would all die!

17) What’s your feeling on allowing fans to come up on stage to sing and dance?

No Comment

18) Zeppelin or The Who? Why?I don’t know…

19) What is your favorite song that you cover in Johnny 5? Why is it your favorite?
Obladi Oblada… brings back so many wonderful memories, and it is fun, and the Beatles were just so “fun-tastic”.

20) How do you balance your musical requirements with your job, friends and significant other?
I sing to myself all the time. Always have, always will.

Ken Vantour – Guitars/Limping

1 When and why did you begin playing? ken
I went into my brother Rick’s bedroom and he was listening to some chump named Eddie Van Halen. I still remember the song…Ice Cream Man from the first VH album. I figured, “Huh, I could do that!” Here I am 30 years later still trying to figure out that solo.

2 What was the first tune you learned?
The first thing I remember learning on the guitar was the guitar solo in We’re Not Gonna Take It by Twisted sister. That was before I knew what a chord was.

3 What musicians do you admire and why?
I admire anybody who picks up an instrument or uses their voice to make music. All music is fantastic to me. Except, of course, Bieber. Everyone else though…oh wait…Not a big fan of Kanye. Anyway, ALMOST anyone who makes music.

4 Who taught you to play?
I had a great teacher for a while named Paul Eastwood in Ottawa. Man, that dude can play. I took lessons for maybe a year and then just learned from magazines. The best guitar lesson I ever had, (sorry Paul) was sitting ten rows back from that chump Van Halen guy in Montreal. I learned a lot that night.

5 What was your first guitar?
It was a black Sanox strat that I got for about $150. (My mom wouldn’t spend any more than that, since she figured guitar would be like everything else I ever attempted and I would give up after a week. ) Last summer, (August 2014) she finally got to see me play a show for the first time at Cantina in Daejeon. In yo’ face, Ma!!!) After the Sanox, I saved up and got my first ‘real’ guitar, which was a Kramer Focus 6000. That VH chump played a Kramer, so I figured, why not? (Are you noticing a pattern?) I still play that guitar at some shows here in Daejeon. Love it. It even has a really neat Whammy bar thing that I don’t know how to use very well.

6 What was the best/worst gig you’ve ever played?
Best gig was at Yellow Taxi in Daejeon on September 13, 2014. For some reason, everybody, band and crowd, was totally into it from the first notes of Wipeout to the last chord of Eye of the Tiger. Rockin’ night. I also had some really cool guitar shades. By the way, somebody stole my kickass guitar shades. There’s a bounty out there. Find this person. Please!
The worst gig was every other show I’ve ever played.

7 What is your favorite album?
Favorite album ever is everything the Beatles did from Rubber Soul til the end. (Not the song, the end of the band).
Favorite guitar album was from the chump. The first VH album is the album I’d take to a deserted island if I was only allowed one album.
Honorable mentions: Powerslave-Iron Maiden, Defenders of the Faith-Judas Priest, Rebel Yell-Billy Idol, Master of Puppets-Metallica…Damn, the list just goes on and on.

8 Why do you play music?
It’s fun and it’s the only time I’m allowed out of the house.

9 How do you handle mistakes during a show?
I usually smack myself in the head. My head is pretty raw by the end of a show.

10 Do you get nervous before a show?
I do, but I think that’s a good thing. I get especially nervous when Karl Mischler, Van Walker and Nolan Riley are in the crowd. Don’t wanna screw up to much with those masters watching.

11 Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?
Practice more than I did. I don’t know a pentatonic scale from shinola. I wish I had been more dedicated when I was younger, but hey…I play fun rock in a cool band with cool people. I’m fine.

12 How often do you practice?
I don’t. I just learn songs. I’m super lazy. I should practice, maybe then I wouldn’t start sweating so bad when I have to do a solo during a show.

13 How do you feel about performing shows in a leopard thong?
Wouldn’t be able to do it any other way.

14 As an 80’s cover band shouldn’t you be wearing more spandex?
I actually have a pair of leather pants, but every time I wear them around the house, (and I do) my wife and kids laugh at me, so I feel shame. If they’re laughing at me, what would the people at Yellow Taxi or Central think? I should though. Maybe next show I’ll climb into the leathers.

15 If you could make a band with living or dead musicians who would it be with?
Me and Chump on guitar, obviously with me taking all the leads. Paul McCartney and Geddy Lee on bass. Rob Halford singing. Neil Peart on drums. Colt Worley on Keys and Trumpet. I’ve never heard anything as masterful as his Walk Like an Egyptian intro. Sends chills down my spine. If I had any hair, it would be standing up every time he plays that.

16 Who do you feel is the most important member of Johnny 5 and why?
Me. I’m super cool.  Plus, listen to Jessie’s girl or Eye of the Tiger without guitar.  How does that sound?  Huh?  Tell me!!

17. What’s your feeling on allowing fans to come up on stage to sing and dance?
I don’t think it should ever happen. I’m happy that people are digging the set, but dance floors are for dancing. So, please, unless you’re invited to come up and participate, please stay on the dance floor.

18 Zeppelin or The Who? Why?
Love ‘em both but the question should be Van Halen or Rush for me? Those two bands along with the mighty Judas Priest are the reasons I play guitar. I would go with VH for guitar, Rush for songwriting and Priest for making me wanna be a rock star. Damn they were cool.

19 What is your favorite song that you cover in Johnny 5? Why is it your favorite?
I like them all, but if I had to choose I would say Jessie’s Girl. I believe, I mean, I’m no scientist and I haven’t done any official studies on this, but I really believe that it is the only song ever written that has the word ‘moot’ in it. I like that.

20 How do you balance your musical requirements with your job, friends and significant other?
I usually kick my wife and kids out of the house when I need to learn some stuff. I learn things after work and I don’t have any friends, so that part’s pretty easy.

Jude Falcon – Drums/Stick dropping

jude1 When and why did you begin playing?
I began playing drums when I was 13 years old and I’m about to be 33 so that puts it at about 10 years. I saw a drum kit set up in my school’s music room and thought I can play that. From that moment I knew I wanted to be a drummer. I then pleaded with my parents to buy me a drum kit. The rest is history but my mom and dad may never get their hearing or sanity back.

2 What was the first tune you learned?
If memory serves it was Hotel California by the Eagles. I still love to drum that song.
3 What famous musicians do you admire and why?

I admire anyone who has the guts to step out on a stage or platform and do anything musically in front of strangers regardless of fame or their current bank balance.

4 Who taught you to play?
I taught myself to play and I still teach myself to this day. Drumming was something I could always do without instruction. I could always play with ease and it came naturally to me.

5 What was your first drum kit?
It was a CB-700 5 piece all black with Sabian cymbals.

6 What was the best/worst gig you’ve ever played?
The best gig was at a club called Yellow Taxi on September 13th 2014. The crowd was wild and our band sounded absolutely incredible! Worst gig was in 2001 at a bar in New Orleans Louisiana. I was drumming in a punk rock band called Stiffler’s Mom. The club was a dump, not a single person in the entire place gave a shit about what we were playing and someone threw a pack of lit firecrackers behind the drum kit while I was playing. Not a great experience.

7 What is your favorite album?
Garbage~ Version 2.0

8 Why do you play music?
I play music because I thoroughly enjoy it. And because I get to smash the shit out of something that’s not mine for a couple of hours. That’s right I bang hard!

9 How do you handle mistakes during a show?

I just continue to play through them. As a drummer you can’t stop the beat if you make a mistake because it throws everyone else off and then everyone really knows you made a mistake. Being a drummer is the hardest job in the band mostly because there is you and only you. No one can save you if you screw up which is why knowing your shit is important.

10 Do you get nervous before a show?
I don’t get nervous at all. I spend lots of time behind a drum kit making sure I’m the best I can be at a show. Practice makes you walk on stage, sit behind the kit and play with confidence. Being nervous makes me second guess myself and when I second guess myself I make mistakes and mistakes suck!

11 Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?
You can never spend too much time practicing. You can also never play enough styles of music either. Fortunately I’ve gotten a chance to play Jazz, Punk, Funk, Pop, Rock, R&B, and Soul. Different styles make you a better player and you never know whay the future holds.

12 How often do you practice?
I practice about 4 hours a week.

13 How do you feel about performing shows in a leopard thong? Yes please!

14 As an 80’s cover band shouldn’t you be wearing more spandex?
As long as it accentuates my package and my ass looks great lets do it!

15 If you could make a band with living or dead musicians who would it be with?
Stevie Wonder on keywords
Geddy Lee on bass
Kirk Hammett on lead guitar
Keith Richards on rhythm guitar
Steven Tyler on vocals
Bill Bergman on saxophone

16 Who do you feel is the most important member of Johnny 5 and why?
I am; but in all reality drummers are the most important in any band. Bands would certainly suck without them.

17. What’s your feeling on allowing fans to come up on stage to sing and dance?
Personally I feel that fans can sing and dance on the dance floor where they are intended to be. The stage is intended for the band because there are a multitude of expensive things on the stage that are typically bought by the band that they would appreciate beer not being spilled on.

18 Zeppelin or The Who? Why?
The Who. Pete Moon was their drummer and he was a powerhouse.

19 What is your favorite song that you cover in Johnny 5? Why is it your favorite?
Your Love by The Outfield. It’s just a blast to play on the drum kit and I have so much fun with the tom rolls in that song.

20 How do you balance your musical requirements with your job, friends and significant other?
My wife is extremely supportive and lets me practice or play a show whenever I want. As far as my friends go I invite them to the show. Practice or shows always happen after work so no worries there.

Matt Verslycken – Bass/Stool Tipping

1. When and why did you begin playing?Matt

I started playing guitar when I was 14. On family gatherings, my cousin used to take an old crappy guitar out of a closet at my grandparents place, tune it by ear, and rock out. I too wanted to rock.

2. What was the first tune you learned?
House of the Rising Sun

3. What famous musician do you admire and why?
Eddie Vedder. I saw him take a shoe to the head during a concert and he just kept on going like nothing happened.

4. Who taught you to play?
I took lessons for a couple of years at a local music store.

5. What was your first guitar?
I bought a used and beat up Washburn D21 as soon as I made some money from my first summer job.

6. What was the best/worst gig you’ve played?
I have only played live with Johnny 5. I think our best gig was at Yellow Taxi for the International Welcoming Party. It was all you can drink starting at 7. We started to play at 1130.

7. What is your favorite album?
Rage Against the Machine – Rage Against the Machine

8. Why do you play music?
To have fun.

9. How do you handle mistakes during a show?
I’ve had a lot of practice.

10. Do you get nervous before a show?
Yes, yes but then I take deep breaths, find my center and drink 5 beers.

11. Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?
Listen to all the music you can from different decades and genres. Then, play what you love and how you want.

12. How often do you practice?
3 days a week for a couple of hours.

13. How do you feel about performing shows in a leopard thong?
Uneasy.

14. As an 80’s cover band shouldn’t you be wearing more spandex?
No.

15. If you could make a band with living or dead musicians who would it be with?
Drums: John Bonham
Bass: Flea
Keys: John Medeski
Guitar: Jack White
Vocals: Freddy Mercury

16. Who do you feel is the most important member of Johnny 5 and why?
Everyone contributes. Everyone sacrifices. Everyone rocks.
17. What’s your feeling on allowing fans to come up on stage to sing and dance?
People should have to follow the same rule as vampires; if you’re invited it’s cool.

18. Zeppelin or The Who? Why?
Zeppelin. They rock more.

19. What is your favorite song that you cover in Johnny 5? Why is it your favorite?
Eye of the Tiger. Da! Da da da! Da da da! Da da daaaaaaaa!

20. How do you balance your musical requirements with your job, friends, or significant other?
I’ve never thought about it as balance. I enjoy playing music just like I enjoy many steaks or beer. There is a time and a place.

Colt Worley – Keys/Trumpet/Stretching

colt1. When and why did you begin playing?
I started playing trumpet when I was 12 years old, and basically started playing keys about 6 months ago

2. What was the first tune you learned?
Hot Cross Buns,and yes, I played the @#!$ out of it.

3. What famous musician do you admire and why?
Wynton Marsalis, Miles Davis, Phil Smith, Jouko Harjanne, Bud Herseth, Randy Brecker, Doc Serverinsen, Maynard Ferguson, Herb Alpert, Al Hirt, Lee Loughnane Arturo Sandoval just to name a few of the players I admire the most…

4. Who taught you to play?

I have had many private teachers in my life since I first started whom I owe everything I ever learned musically.

5. What was your first guitar?
My first axe was not very remarkable, so I’ll just state my current, which is a Yamaha Xeno Chicago artist model.

6. What was the best/worst gig you’ve played?
It’s hard not to be satisfied with all of our gigs, but I think every performance at Daejeon’s Yellow Taxi has been better and better.

7. What is your favorite album?
Any Chicago album from ’69 – ’72

8. Why do you play music?
Tough question… but I believe once you play music long enough it just becomes a natural thing to want to do. I think in my case, for now, it is something that I feel compelled to do. Its difficult for me to feel satisfied if I don’t have some kind of musical outlet.

9. How do you handle mistakes during a show?
Don’t stop playing. Eye contact. Play louder.

10. Do you get nervous before a show?
Always before the first tune, especially if I’m not familiar with the sound system. But there is no amount of nervousness that can’t be remedied with some liquid courage.

11. Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?
Always listen and appreciate live music.

12. How often do you practice?
Basically enough to keep from losing my chops.

13. How do you feel about performing shows in a leopard thong?
I strongly encourage it, and never play a show without my hand-made silken thong.

14.) As an 80’s cover band shouldn’t you be wearing more spandex?
Only as long as it doesn’t take away from previously mentioned thong…

15. If you could make a band with living or dead musicians who would it be with?
Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Holly, Bob Marley, Wolfgang Mozart and Grammy award winner Scott Stapp.

16. Who do you feel is the most important member of Johnny 5 and why?
Besides the amazing audience who rock night after night. Jude on the drums, because he has saved our ass at more than one gig.

17. Zeppelin or The Who? Why?
Led Zeppelin, because Robert Plant.

18. What’s your feeling on allowing fans to come up on stage to sing and dance?
The stage is a sacred place. Leave the floor for the topless dancing and possibly the top of the bar… you did say shirtless right?

19. What is your favorite song that you cover in Johnny 5?
Jessie’s Girl has yet to fail at blowing the crowd’s brain balls.

20. How do you balance your musical requirements with your job, friends, or significant other?
I have been fortunate enough to surround myself with people who are both supportive of my need to play and also understanding of my other commitments. People rock sometimes.

johnny2
Johnny 5 with a few of their best friends.
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