Q&A with Justin Pearson
Sound Colour Vibration interview with Justin Pearson
Conducted by Xavier Vilaplana
I had the pleasure of trading emails with Justin right after his birthday (he’d spent it in the studio getting the vocals done for the new Retox album). Justin is a San Diego staple, an anti-icon or icon of DIY life style. He has brought together one of San Diego’s best labels, 31G, has written two books, and has played in an abundance of bands, always progressing through punk rock/hardcore culture and bringing out exotic flavors within the mix. Justin isn’t one to back down or play the complacent card. He pushes through full throttle, even on his birthday… especially on his birthday, because, like he says, it’s the only way for him to really live.
Here’s what he had to say.
Sound Colour Vibration: I know your work habit/passion has been something prominent since you were young, but has it increased with age? Is there an urgency to do more every single day for you? Because in a “music industry”, you seem to work much harder than most.
Justin Pearson: I suppose my workload has increased but I would not attribute it to age but more so, experience. Also I would assume technology aids in being able to accomplish a lot more much faster than when I started doing the stuff that I do.
SCV: Is Retox an outlet as much as a response for your present life? Meaning, I guess anger is something you shoot out and make gold, so, is Retox sort of your response, or even your Detox of the social, political and artistic industry?
JP: I would like to clarify the concept of what is perceived as “anger”. I would not classify myself as a angry person. I suppose I am aware and with that, I tend to get irritated or for lack of a better description, I’m affected by the world I live in. But I do think things like anger come hand in hand with love. It’s that idea of the opposite of love is hate. However, I feel the opposite of love would be apathy. Not caring seems to be the negative. As much as I would identity with aspects of anger, I think I tend to focus on progressive elements in all aspects of life. Of course Retox’s music is aggressive, and I’m sure aspects are angry, but I think it’s more so, progressive… or we can throw in stuff like irritated, frustrated, concerned, etc etc etc. And to answer the last part of the question, Retox embodies strong elements of social politics, general politics, as well as elements of art. But I am not sure it’s a direct or obvious response but more so, a product of the lives of the people who make up the band. Especially artistically speaking. And even in relation to concepts of art, like when someone asks to cite musical references, I feel what is more important is why does one have interest in the said musical references or influences. That is way more of a relevant question in my opinion.
SCV: When can we expect the new Retox album? I know you’re working hard on it, tell me about it, any new features that weren’t going on with Ugly Animals?
JP: I just finished up the last of the vocals today. As far as what people can expect, to me, it’s much different than our previous musical attempts. We have a slightly different line up, and with that, have spent a lot more time writing, and even with our recording have put a lot more effort into the quality of the recording. To me, the new album is more developed and more conceptualized.
SCV: How do you manage the time to hit up 31G, your bands, your writing, personal life and self-made publicity?
JP: Well I think I am more than full time as far as work is concerned. But it’s a strange thing to think about. Sure, a lot of it is work, or not all fun and interesting creative stuff. But a lot of it is just stuff that I have to do. It’s the only way I can survive, mentally. I am lucky to have awesome friends who help and support me, Three One G, bands that I am involved in, and so on. Without them, I would be screwed.
SCV: Who is your favorite Star Wars character?
JP” I think I was always fascinated with some of the more obscure characters, but out of the obvious ones, I would go with Chewbacca.
SCV: Your onslaught has been an inspiration for DIY and non-commercial music. It’s been made into a standard in San Diego and really a landmark of SD soundscapes. Have you ever wanted to leave San Diego, though?
JP: Thanks for the compliment! San Diego is my home, and partially made me who I am. I think I am staying put until it breaks off and sinks into the ocean.
SCV: Do you and the Locust team think of releasing any more stuff or are you guys just going off doing your own stuff for an indefinite future?
JP: We had written most of a new album about three years ago and then decided to take a break and call for a hiatus for a while. That is all I know as of now. However, if it was up to me, I would opt for The Locust to be active now.
SCV: What’s your favorite release this year?
JP: This is a tough question. Lately, I have been obsessing over Black Dice’s “Mr. Impossible” and Tom Waits’ “Bad As Me”.