Saturday, February 27, 2016

RETOX's Justin Pearson interview

by Michela A.

There are at least 2 different ways of being into hardcore punk. One is to take your instrument up, shout it out loud and play around with your band- sometimes it does work.
Other thing is when you put all life into it, absorbing ethic and aesthetic of the punk subculture of the early years and then feeding the scene playing and producing mind-blowing music, pushing traditional HC sounds beyond any conceivable limits. With an ethic– Justin Pearson’s way.

Last year, in April, RETOX were touring in Europe on their new LP “Beneath California” and we had the chance to spend some time talking with Justin Pearson (who's also in the newest Dave Lombardo's punk metal project Dead Cross with guitarist Mike Crain) before Retox show in Berlin. No doubts he is as engaging and true as on stage.
Time has passed «even more because of our lazy editor -editor note», but I guess many of the ideas Justin shared with us are not likely to change soon.
The awesome backstage pictures are courtesy of Sibilla Calzolari who also published a photo-book of backstage pictures; for more details check out

gan: The first time I saw you Justin on stage was on 2007 in Milan with the Locust. I was there primarily for the comeback of a legendary Italian hardcore punk band called Sottopressione. Then I heard this fast paced, aggressive grindcore delirium and it just blew up my mind! I soon became Locust-addicted and then came the Retox, featuring 2/4 of the Locust. So Retox is your latest project, isn’t it? How were Retox born?

JP. Old Gabe, Serbian from The Locust, who was originally the drummer for Retox, and I, we wanted to start a band like Head Wound City, cause we were doing HWC and we just wanted to do a kind of basic trash band. We really wanted to play with Mike (Michael Crain, Retox guitar player) because he was playing in a band we are really big fans of (Festival of Dead Deer) and so we put the band together. And after we recorded an EP and our first LP, Gabe quit, he moved to Austin, so we got Brian, our current drummer. That’s how the band came together!

gan: Cool! And where does the name come from?

JP. Gabe thought of it and I actually don’t like it that much. Well, I like it, but when I think about it and of what else it usually refers sucks. There is this stupid Retox Hostel and this kind of party concept, shitheads getting wasted and that’s not really the idea. To me, I look at it more politically and socially, “to be retoxed”, kind of with this weird vibe of ‘80s punk and hardcore: a sort of negative context of stuff, so like “retox” in a sense of polluted or fucked up, you know, toxic.

gan: Nostalgic?

JP. No, because it’s not like: “I wanna go back to that”. We’re in it. We’re fucking retoxed right now, this world is fucked up. So that’s kind of the idea behind it. And we’re like “Oh, there’s this Turbonegro record and these assholes who have this stupid party Hostel and raves and this other shit. So it’s pretty obvious that the name sucks but we were stuck with it. I tried to change it: our first album is called “Ugly Animals” and I thought that would be a way cooler name for a band, but Mike was opposed to it we are as Retox!

gan: “I wanted to change the way people perceive music, or maybe just destroy it in general.” I found this quote in an interview with The Locust. Any similar idea with Retox?

JP. Well, I was very naïf when I said that. And it’s funny because I remember saying it and it really came out in an interview, but then it was taken out of context. Because it seems to be very ambitious, like: “Oh I’m gonna destroy music and change people’s perception!” That’s obviously not going to happen with one person. I meant the perception of what people see in certain kinds of music. And I think that the interview was edited to have this kind of catch-phrase, because my idea was a little bit different. When people listen to the Locust they always say “Oh look, that keyboards’ riff is great, that synth line is rad!” And that’s actually guitar or that’s bass, because everything was redefined and you could not tell which instrument was playing what and also driven by a lot of electronic sounds. Just a band where you cannot really say “Ok, that’s the bass and that’s guitar”. Everything was like a weird mix of sounds and this is what I was trying to say in that moment: redefining people’s interpretation of instruments. And then it became a thing. I still kind of feel that way, but maybe with Retox it’s not so ambitious, it’s more like addressing certain kind of styles, or energy that I think a lot of bands had, possessed in the past. Like trying to grab this energy and the intensity of certain kind of hardcore and punk bands, but making it a little more modern and maybe not as nihilistic as a lot of bands seem to be or has been in the past and try to approach it in a different way. And I also think that with Mike guitar’s playing we have a touch of surf vibe or, I don’t know like in Dead Kennedys, so this is our spin on what we’re doing, like brutal surf music!

gan: Brutal surf! Sounds great! You’ve been experiencing some line-up changes, in terms of drums and bass, isn’t it? How did you deal with that?

JP. Well it’s an interesting thing because you never wanna get worse, no? Haha, so when Gabe left the band it was pretty a big deal, I kinda thought that the band was over at that point. We did one tour with Sal Gallegos who is the drummer for Some Girls and I don’t necessarily think their styles are the same but they each possess very strong points in the way they play and so it was up to par: he wasn’t the same as Gabe but he was equally as cool and good. But then he left after one tour and Gabe got suggested we get Brian, who’s our drummer now and again, I think the styles are a lot different, but they both possess a different sort of energy which is equally cool, so we just sort of shifted with that change and the band changed with the style of the drumming. Again, I don’t think we take a step back I think we just took a step in another direction, which is good.
We recently got a different bass player and I think our previous bass player didn’t really write any music for the band, just did the minimum work, so I think we can just improve through the change. But it’s kind of ironic because our friend Keith from LA joined the band, recorded the record, did the tour and then he had to leave, so it was crazy, but I think that all the stuff that Keith contributed to the new record really shows if you’re a real bass player and if you’re really interested in making music. And the songwriting is a lot cooler as concerns the bass lines, compared to previous stuff. So Keith left and we got our new bass player Ryan, who’s equally as great. He’s crazy, plays rad and does a fantastic job in the band. He’s a great guy also.

gan: What does “Beneath California” mean? What’s there beneath that land? How is growing up as human and musician in California?

JP. Well, when I suggested it there were many kinds of things I was thinking of. Culturally, you think like, “I am Spanish or I am French”, for us that’s “Californian”, which is really culturally-specific. And southern California in particular: there’s a very specific culture there, that definitely made us who we are. Beneath is like the roots, you know, what’s inside of it, the soul of it, what made us what we are. Kind of paying an homage to where we come from, but also kind of saying: “this is us, we’re part of California.”

gan: I am quite curious about the composition process of Retox. Most of the times creating the structure, or “the skeleton” of a track is a kind of strings’ duty, let’s say: a song is often built up around, or at least starting from, a guitar or a bass riff. In Retox you are at the vocals, but you’re also a bass player. What is then your role in the creative process? Do you just focus on vocal lines or do you contribute to the songwriting in a wider way?

JP. It’s sort of a strange process to me. The band primarily is from LA so I don’t go up to the rehearsals for song writing: they write pieces of songs and they send them to me through email. It’s really nice because I don’t feel like anybody has an ego of what they’re doing and they’re all really open to constructive criticism. So they send me the tracks and if I feel that certain riff is too long or it needs an intro, or something should be played faster or slower, they’re really open to those ideas so we go back and forth and we keep revising things and eventually we have that “skeleton” you were talking about. So I am kind of removed from the direct writing process but I am, I guess, a big critic of it and luckily enough they listen to what I have to say. Maybe they’re open to me being rather critical because they realize I will eventually put the lyrics to it.
I think very percussively, being a bass player too. I try to work on things from a percussive element as well as on the vocals, and this happens in The Locust as well. So I am constantly thinking of these patterns that will fit over these riffs and also the way the structure is: there are times in which I can sing and breath and there is a movement. Then I eventually write stuff and as we get in studio, again everyone is really open to change things, as well as myself. It just takes a while but everybody is really open to changing it for the bigger picture and there’s no songwriter and I think it’s cool, it comes out better.

gan: So you build everything up together, even though you’re not together at rehearsal.

JP: Sure! You know, with most of the bands I played in, it’s been like a collective, something like communism I suppose!

gan: Great! Talking about lyrics and vocals, I love the way they are just damn perfectly anchored to music, especially in “Beneath California”. I mean, both to riffs and rhythm. The voice never slides away, and it always sounds like a solid compound, together with music. I believe this is a strong distinguishing feature of Retox but also of other bands you play in. Moreover, looking at the lyrics’ rhyme and meter, they sound and look like verses, poetry. How do you work on lyrics? Do you write lyrics specifically for each track or do you write independently from sounds?

JP: Probably a little bit of everything. For the most part I try to find this sort of vibe a song would have before I start writing lyrics to it, but I always think of a say, a couple of words which will fit together or a metaphor, or a phrasing. When for example a word that has 2 meanings and you can use it in a sort of an awkward manner and let it sound more artistic... I always have this arsenal and stuff! And also, I read all the time and I often find interesting concepts to work on.

gan: You say you read a lot, but you must also write a lot then...

JP: Yes I do, but I would never say I write poetically. My writing aside from lyrics is just stories, and it’s not really about harmony, rhyming or having melodies, it’s just about telling a story.
But I always try to find satire, humor, or just some kind of weird angle in the writing to evoke a message or to express or explain myself. When I am on lyrics, I am limited: I can’t really tell a whole story. You have this certain amount of time and these placements to put words to, while when you’re telling a story you can tell as much as you want, but when you sing a song, you have verses, courses, beats and rhythms and you have to fit so many syllables into these pieces. So you have to re-arrange your words to fit.
I’ve done this in the past with other bands, like Swing Kids for example, but I just screamed whatever, I never thought about melody. Because I thought “Ok I scream and I am not in key”. But there has to be a melody, a way to phrase it, to lock lyrics to the riff, or to the groove, to the beat and these are all things I try to consider when writing.
Recently I’ve started to become really obsessive with words having rhyme, because it helps with the melody, it helps with a hook, a vocal hook and I think it’s more important for me to focus on that when songwriting. I feel I’ve become a better songwriter or better, lyricist, I guess, since I’ve started doing that. And it’s also really good when you have a concept and you base lyrics on a concept, so you grab words that fit, that have certain meanings or whatever...

gan: That’s extremely interesting. Thanks for sharing this with us. And what about the topics? Personally, I am particularly interested in your lyrics about apathy, boredom, like “Boredom is counterrevolutionary”.

JP: To me, I feel that a huge portion of America is apathetic and it’s so sad. I think most of the people are not even to be blamed: it’s this sort of cultural relevance that has been placed on America. The concept of: “The opposite of love is not hate, is apathy” applies to American society in the sense that all the shit that seems like hate, it’s just being fucking lazy. Especially in everyday life you know, I have this job, I work at night, at this bar and I watch people and their concept of how they have to entertain themselves and their self-worth. What are they interested in? What do they live for? And I think “What the fuck are these people doing”? I don’t want to judge them, because I feel that lots of people don’t even realize that’s it. It’s the constant struggle to find in your existence what is relevant in life. And, it’s not my place to criticize someone, I just observe the world in my eyes and through the things that I see. Actually being able to tour everywhere and to meet different people, see different cultures and coming back to the US, you see this and it is so sad.
I wouldn’t say that people just don’t care, they’re lazy and they’re sort of taught to be lazy.
“Boredom is counterrevolutionary” is a quote which comes from the Situationists. For me, I discovered the Situationists through the Sex Pistols when I was a little kid. It’s not that I got the SP records and I was in the punk rock. I got the record and I really tried to figure out what was going on, because there were a lot of different levels of things in it. ‘Cause essentially they’re not even a punk band, in the early age they played a kind of pop music, a really tamed sort of rock. But there was an image to it. And an aesthetic and an ethic to it. And all these things were really important to me without even realizing it. I was really obsessive over this social aspect and attitude to music. And not even on lyrics, it was the art and lifestyle, the attitude and the cultural relevance at that time. There I discovered the Situationists: it spoke to me. They were able to make a statement, a comment, which was not direct in a political sense like “We hate the cops” or “Homophobia is wrong “, instead it was weird, abstract and fucked up and made people think. It was always attached to a sort if weird imagery, always done illegally or done in a way that wasn’t safe. This made people think about the message. And that was the key, because it was not just a statement, or a song. They make people react and that’s what I look for.
I appreciate when people tell me they don’t like what I do. As long as they’re reacting to it, there’s no apathy. Love and hate is the same, they both walk hand in hand, apathy is what I want to avoid. Love and hate, I would embrace both of those.

gan: Interesting point of view.

JP: Going back to American culture, we’re supposed to live in democracy, so we should be able to choose between the 2 things, but actually every party you get in, democratic or republican, it’s still the same. You think you have a choice but you have no choice. And it’s hard to see yourself as an artist, a writer, or as a band and then as resistance, because it’s huge and America is the pig of the world. So how can I and you and us together or everyone who’s gonna be at the show tonight, how can we be out of it? But we can try to influence something!

gan: You have been talking about the attitude of punk and, connected to this, I read with extreme interest the description of your “initiation” to punk music and subculture, a concert at Che Café at UCSD, which is really a pleasant, effective and in some ways “romantic” paragraph about a turning point in a teenager’s life, the approach to punk, not only as music, but punk as a way of life and attitude in a broader sense. So, the bands you discovered that night blew up your mind and you realized the majority of the bands, outside, were “just playing songs”. What must a band have in order to not “just play songs”?

JP: That’s a great question, but I’m not sure there can be a general answer... each band must discover it on its own. Maybe when I am about to die I’ll probably know the answer, but right now I don’t know. I know when I was younger and I was playing in Struggle and Swing Kids, I never really understood what I was doing, or I never understood the dynamic of what could happen. But I remember the first time I ever really experienced this, was with the Swing Kids, playing in Belgium at this festival and it was a weird time in all of our lives, a weird time also in punk and hardcore, but we played this show and the energy with the audience was so intense and even the energy among the four of us, that we were communicating with telepathy and what happened really redefined the language we used to communicate. It was more than music.
I think I was so lucky and really grateful that I was able to experience that and I took that with me and said “Ok this is my standard now and I want to achieve that as far as I perform a show”. You don’t have to confront the audience, the audience is there with you and you make it special, you connect because people come together and they experience something which is well beyond the guitar notes that one of us plays or well beyond the lyrics one of us sings. It’s just communicating to other human beings and maybe through other dimensions I don’t even know, but there is this way of communicating to the universe, and this is really the ultimate goal.

gan: So, you have an answer, then!

JP: Yes! But I don’t even know what is called. It’s a thing that happens.

gan: How is San Diego music scene today?

JP: Well it’s always changing and it’s very different from the ‘90s, but it’s different in good ways and different in bad ways, but I feel you can’t really say “San Diego music scene is this or that”, the whole world is changing, so everything is affected, even the music industry. In the 90’s we did not have illegal downloading, or SoundCloud files and Facebook, so the world changed, it’s hard to compare. If people are lazy and apathetic now, they just can download a record, stay home and watch it on Youtube and they don’t care going and experiencing those things that I was trying to explain: the special energy of a show.

gan: Missing the good old times? Do you think that with music sharing and social networks, music is losing something today? You, meaning you personally but also your bands, use social media a lot, but I think this is also a good thing on certain points of view, because it’s possible to know where you are playing and also to communicate with you in a really fast way.

JP: Well, it’s great that you can tell everybody instantly all over the world, or share your song, share your video, whatever, with everyone. But before that existed, you had to go buy Maximum Rock’n Roll and learn about this 7’’ was much more special, because you had to do a lot of work. That was good, but the convenience factor is also good. There’s positive and negative. With Three One G it is really interesting now, because everyday somebody is emailing me like: “This is my new band, put our record out!”and they send me a link and I appreciate that they think of Three One G, but I don’t have the money to put the record out and I don’t want to put the record out! Not because it’s good or bad, I don’t want to put it out because I don’t know them and I can’t connect to them. I wanna know them, understand them and see it and experience some kind of human reaction. That’s lazy and boring if you just send me an email, you have to put some effort into it! I prefer when people send something by mail, a demo, or a letter, ‘cause they’re doing something, they’re saying something, they’re going out of their way to get my attention, that’s great. Or they come to me at the show, give me the demo and talk to me, that’s really what matters to me!

gan: The human side of the thing.

JP: Yes, we played on tour with Warsawasraw, these are people that I connected with on tour, I essentially fell in love with them and their music and I do want to lose money on their record because I believe in it, I feel it and I feel that it’s relevant!

gan: Talking about Three One G, your label appears to be like a big family and you also mentioned that. I mean, the bands out on Three One G are all somehow interrelated with each other, with loads of featuring, collaborations, which is a boundless source of creativity. I really like this attitude, which also makes Three One G different from the big label industry. When you started, almost 20 years ago, did you already have this idea in mind? Were you inspired by any other similar labels when you started?

JP: That’s a good question, because I feel I didn’t think it out. It was the subconscious. So I thought to myself “I need to put out this record, this one record”. And then ”I just needed to put out the second”. I never planned it and I never thought I wanted to be like Dischord or Gravity. But Dischord and Gravity definitely influenced me, but it wasn’t that I wanted to do that because that was my goal. My goal was: “right now, this has to happen”. And then next thing and next thing and then... 20 years later you realize that they’re 80 records, what the fuck! And we did all these things. So, nothing planned. Nothing. And it’s still a little bit of a mess. I don’t have money, I don’t have an account and... I don’t have time, you know! And I am so grateful for the bands and the people who work with me on the label. It is a huge labor of love for everybody involved.

gan: So your life has been full of amazing projects that you still carry on with commitment and great results. On the other side, any regrets? Or are you satisfied with everything you’ve been doing so far?

JP: When I started doing music, I played in so many bands, the Struggle, The Swing Kids, Crimson Curse and if I look back, I think that my contribution to those bands was not very good, but I did my best, I was 15, 16, up to 20. I was young and I was learning. I guess I cut myself some slack. But that’s fine.
But yes, I did few projects I thought: ”Fuck, I should haven’t done that!” But not that I regretted it, because I think that even in a negative situation, you learn and you get something good out of it. For instance, I worked with the Bloody Beetroots, it was fucking stupid to decide to go on tour with them, garbage! The songs that I did with them suck, it was stupid! But there was this tour in Australia, and I thought like:”What could this be like?” and I had no idea, then I went and I sang in front of 20 thousand people and it was so fucking stupid.

gan: Well, you faced the challenge...not everybody dares!

JP: Yes, I did. I don’t want to talk shit now, because they also try to differentiate themselves from other DJs, but I thought it was garbage because it was fake, people don’t give a shit. I felt like “Why am I here? What am I doing here? Is this what I really wanna do?” And in retrospective I realized that what I wanna do is to play with bands and to play real instruments. But I was there and I did my best, but it was embarrassing to be singing and realizing that the microphone was even off!!! I would throw it in the crowd and leave, because it was all a joke. But a part of me thought that that exposure may help, maybe those people could get into The Retox or The Locust and then in the cool shit, or maybe they won’t, whatever, it is what it is. But, I realized I probably shouldn’t have done this, because my heart was not in it and this was weird. And I am not that good at stepping out of a situation and I just pissed everyone off. I really thought that what I wanted to do was again playing with a band with real instruments.

gan: You experienced it on your skin.

JP: Well, I feel like the whole thing was a contradiction itself and so I removed myself from the situation. But I think it was still a contradiction even without me, you know, because watching the singer from Refused singing with them for the remix of New Noise after I played with them and knowing their attitude to politics... Well, the Bloody Beetroots see themselves as anarchists etc... and then the tour bus is sponsored by Monster Energy Drink and knowing how much money they’re getting paid, the corporate sponsorship and the fact that they’re paid and that they aren’t doing anything which is connected to the politics they preach about, this all seems kind of weird. I think -ok, maybe I would like to buy nice houses and have nice clothes and a nice car, but I feel I also don’t want to work for a corporation, I don’t want to work for fucking Monster Energy Drink or whatever else shit they were working for! I’d rather work hard and be working class or if I’m gonna make a lot of money, do it with the right ethics. Which comes back to what I base things on. Something like Dischord with reference to Fugazi: making sure you don’t have these shitty corporate sponsorships or making sure that what you’re doing is calculated. It’s important, because I don’t want to support Walmart, British Petroleum or any other corporations that fuck the planet or people or is just garbage, consumers’ garbage. I don’t want to be part of that! We are all part of a system someway...

gan: but maybe we still can do something?

JP. Yes, I don’t necessarily wear my vegan badge or my anarchy badge or my socialist badge or whatever the fuck people prescribe to you. You just do your best and what’s gonna happen is gonna happen, but you do your best. I don’t really wanna go singing for all these wiped people at a rave. I’d rather go on the van, not making any money, and sing for people who are badass! And that’s it!

gan: Cool! Love to hear that. On the opposite side, is there any of your projects you personally feel more tied to and that you maybe consider your “creature”, your “baby”?

JP: I think that all the stuff that I am involved in, does not belong just to me but to an “us”: it’s not my baby, we are all the parents. It depends on how much you do with one band, how much stuff you produce and also on how much happens. Head Wound City is a good example: we did just one record, played some shows and then it was done. But now recently we’ve played 2 more shows and worked on another record and we’re like “oooh so our baby is growing up...we thought it was all dead but now resurrected!” Hahahaha! So, it’s really hard to compare various projects I’ve been taking part and I also don’t want to compare. There is time and place for everything. I think that with all the people I’ve been working with, there were always different things happening, and sometimes it’s like doing something -having a break, also depending on one’s life and projects.

gan: You joined a Food not bombs compilation in 1994 with Swing Kids. What about Food not Bombs, is it a project you still somehow support? Or is there any other movements you feel/are connected to?

JP: Of course. Unfortunately Food not Bombs is not existing in San Diego like it did. At that time with SK we were helping out FNB in serve food and play the benefits and connecting people and we were all part of it. When FNB started in San Diego, I lived in a house with 17 people and we were primarily the place that cooked and served the food and the FBI was investigating on our house and trying to evict us, trying to shut down FNB, bugging our phones, following us around, following me to high school!! Crazy shit like that!!!

gan: Fucking repression!

JP: Sure, it was a terrorist threaten before terrorism was even used so frequently as a thread of some sort, which- I don’t know why. So I had a strong connection there. In recent years, I can’t remember the year, I think 2009 maybe, Swing Kids and Unbroken we played in LA for a benefit show and raised 25 thousands US$ and we donated all the money to No-kill Animal Shelter and to Planned Parenthood and some of the money to Che Café for the new pa and new equipment. So all the money went to these things we support. And it was all done out or...hate.

gan: Cool! What do you think about the events in Ferguson? I know it happened in Missouri, which is probably a different social context than southern California, but.. what did you think about that and what was your reaction?

JP: California is not different, it’s happening in LA all the time. Even in San Diego, it’s not necessarily so prominent like it would be in Ferguson with African-Americans, but it’s prominent with people on the border: it’s really, really racist and fucked up. So something similar to what we happened in Ferguson could definitely have happened in San Diego. On one side you have Ferguson Police Department where there is speculation about the fact that some policemen are members of the Ku Klux Klan don’t have that necessarily in San Diego but you still have totally racist shit happening. But the thing is that: there are always people arguing that there are good cops and yes, there are better cops than others but the system itself is fucked to the core, therefore there are no good cops, because they are part of a system that does this and there is no way to really control it: you can’t police the police! And these events are happening more and more: African-Americans are experiencing police racism every day.
And not just African-Americans or migrants coming from the border: everybody can easily be a victim of police violence. It’s really strange: you are fucking scared to be killed by cops, without having a say in anything. It’s a trip. I may understand the logistic of what a cop has to do, but there are ways to police people without just shooting them first!

gan: And how do you feel in Europe? Safer?

JP: No, The second night of the tour we were in Croatia and we were stopped on the border and I was strip-searched and I had no drugs, no weapons, nothing. They took all my clothes off, looked into my shoes, took the soles out of the shoes, they searched into my backpack and everything. We were respectful and I think what happened was pretty humiliating and I thought: What if it was this guy to be asked to take his underwear off, or maybe his daughter, or mum or wife? These fucking pigs have not this mindset, it’s all fucked up! They don’t have any empathy or the sympathy that they should have for other human beings.

gan: Control is repression.

JP: Sure. When I was 16 years old Struggle had this song “Pigs on fire” and it was about when you see a cop around and you feel scared. Well, it was 23 years ago and I think things are exactly the same. And this is coming from a white person, think about how this must be if you are African-American!

gan: And about Struggle I read that at first the name was “Proletariat struggle”, is that true?

JP: Yes, that was the initial idea, but we never really used that. At the time the drummer and I we were working with the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade and we were kind of like into the slogans and metaphors used and the words and language they used in general: like” proletarian” and “struggling for this kind of rights”, and the name just came up. Then, we were not even proletarians, we were really still kids going to high school, I mean, if you are not yet into job, you cannot use for yourself the definition of proletarian. So I thought we should have called ourselves just Struggle.

gan: Are you still struggling?

JP: It’s not that we were or are struggling, it was more the concept of struggling for something, struggling for a better life for a better world, a better planet. We still have much to do, humans are the most arrogant species of the planet.

gan: Yesterday it was record store day and I know you are a record collector. How many records do you have?

JP: Oh I don’t know! I guess I have a few thousands records, I guess. I did not buy any record yesterday, I bought some today but, I think this event is limiting, to be part of it you have to follow so many guidelines...

gan: So a system, again...

JP: Hahaha It’s not necessarily negative being part of a system... but it’s just not so inclusive.

gan: Do you prefer vinyl, cassettes, CDs?

JP: I don’t like cassettes at all, they are not a very sustainable format, it gets depleted the more you play it. Of course I am glad they are coming back but I think vinyl is a superior format. There is something about the analog recording and in the analog piece of music, even if it’s a digital recording but on vinyl, still has more warmth. I understand technology is getting better and better but lot of times people just end to listen to music on a compressed format, but you are losing some elements of the music and I think it’s important. I don’t have that much of a gripe against anything, I just want to have whatever that music was intended to be like. For me, putting out “Beneath California” meant having that record, those images, that artwork and the lyrics: everything that comes with it that’s important to me, the labels on the record, sort of nuances and having weird message through. It’s part of the bigger artistic piece. Music is a piece of art comes down the live aspect and to every aspect.

gan: Where do you prefer to buy records?

JP: I prefer to buy the record directly at a show, because all goes to the band and they benefit more, but I love going to record stores looking to records, there are so many spots in San Diego and LA that are dangerous to go into because... I would stay there forever! But I enjoy looking through records, I enjoy all the little details of the piece of art.

gan: Great, thanks! And what’s next on the tour? Where are you gonna play tomorrow?
JP: We are going to Poland tomorrow and I am so excited cause I’ve never been there!!!

gan: That’s all for us, but just a last thing: recommend us some bands please!

JP: Warsawwasraw and.. Zeus! Hahahah! Well I am constantly discovering new bands around, but I have to say I am obsessed with them for sure!

gan: Cool! So that’s all for us Justin, thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts with us!

JP: Thank you too!

Watch here the official video for the song "Let's Not Keep In Touch" off the album "Beneath California"

All photos courtesy of Sibilla Calzolari

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