Here’s my short chat with Justin Pearson from RETOX, THE LOCUST, Three One G Records, SWING KIDS and numerous other projects. We talked mostly about RETOX, his relatively new noise punk pack, who released their debut album “Ugly Animals” in August of 2011 and now are getting ready to put out their highly anticipated second outing. Learn more about it below. Also, Justin told us when they will be visiting Europe again, discussed fascism, the importance of political awareness and a few different issues.
Hey! Thanks for taking this interview, guys! So… you’ve just confirmed your US West Coast tour with TOMAHAWK. Excited? Tell us more about it. How did you team up for it?
The first album “Ugly Animals” is on Ipecac, Mike Patton‘s label. The two bands therefore share a history together and Mike asked the band to be on the tour. Everybody is stoked to be going on tour together.
You’ve been touring heavily with REGENTS in June, October and November. Share some memories of those runs.
Over all, it was about aligning ourselves with comrades from other places. Not only are they a great band, but they are amazing people. Also pretty much anything Jason Hamicher does is out of hand.
What cool bands have you been sharing the stage with while on tour?
Any chances to see you guys live in Europe?
Most certainly. Once our new LP is released we will be touring on that.
And when would that be? [smiles]
Hopefully in the spring, latest in summer.
How about a documentary you’re cooking out there? What’s the story behind the project?
It’s a film following a recent US/ Canadian tour we did. But as RETOX is the sort of vessel for the subject, there is a much larger picture. It tells a story of a culture and a lifestyle that a love to artists live. It also explains how the world we live in created the need for the art we all are making.
Who else is featured in it?
Justin, you’re also featured on the new ZEUS LP. Tell us more about this collaboration.
RETOX toured with them Italy and I really love the band and for whatever reason they asked me to sing on a track. It was an honor to do so.
What other cooperation have you had lately?
I have also been teaming up with ILL SAINT M of France for a track called “A Pig’s Orphan”.
How did you team up with them on that?
They have been friends and collaborators for some time – it came about naturally.
Is there a timetable for the next release in your mind?
The new LP, “YPLL” is finished. We are just waiting on a release date.
What did you want the audience to think about when they read that title? [smiles] What’s behind it?
I don’t think we necessarily wanted them to think about anything in particular as much as we just figured that they would ask. It is kind of open to interpretation until you figure out that it is an acronym for “Years of Potential Life Lost.” That kind of says it all. We all have missed out on some of our lives to one reason or another. In my case it was to a grim adolescence which then led to hard core drug and alcohol abuse for a large portion of my life. I missed out on most of my 20’s. I was totally checked out and hiding from the pain of living. Again, I feel that anybody can relate to the term YPLL in their own way.
Have you brought upon the stylistic changes in your sound? How would you describe the transition since “Ugly Animals”?
I feel that we all have brought about the stylistic changes to a degree but I did actually take much more time coming up with the riffs and parts that would become the foundation for YPLL. I think a huge factor also was the process of writing with Brian (Evans). He has a very particular drum style that helped steer our sound into a particular direction that we are all happy with. Thor and JP definitely delivered as well. Those guys are bad asses.
How are you feelings about that record at the moment? Are you still 100% satisfied with the record?
I have never been 100% satisfied with anything I have ever been a part of. I am proud of this record and we all put 100% into it. That goes for our producer Chris Rakestraw too.
Ok. How’s Three One G Records doing these days?
It could always be better. But I will not complain. It’s hard to put new things out, as people typically don’t purchase music these days. But I have realized that the label is much more than just a label.
What are some of the best things about your local Southern California music scene?
Diversity, history, and progression.
Most hardcore punk bands have an anti-fascism stance now. Is there a problem regarding right wing organizations in your area? What do you think about the whole fight against extreme nationalist movements, especially here in Europe?
Great question. I think issues such as the general topic you referenced is a huge issue. I would hope that all hardcore bands would have a stance against injustices, or at least live as an example and be active. As far as answering your question, there unfortunately is a problem, and it’s a bit baffling being that it’s 2012 and we are only experiencing gradual progression, and in some cases no progression. But I honestly feel the world is changing for the better, and as they say, change comes one funeral at a time.
What’s the awareness of history in your area?
I think first and for most, one needs to be a living example. So where you might have an overtly political band, or persons, you may have ones that are not as obvious, but live a progressive and positive life. A lot of ones activism comes from simple life choices, such as where you spend you money, how you interact with your community, and so on. These aspects are political in nature and influence certain outcomes. But I also think aspects like direct action, and being vocal about politics is important but need to be delivered in a progressive manner and at the right time and moment. There is also the idea of subversive politics, which we see more and more lately. However, being so close to the border of Mexico we experience a great deal of racism, or fascism, depending on how you look at it. Anything from the way the police and border patrol treat people, to politicians in office, to civilians and their life choices. So back to the idea of tradition, we progress gradually by naturally eliminating outdated ways of thinking. That elimination comes when people die. But then again, aspects of fascism still exist and we must make note and do what we can to push forward, and to answer your question, the awareness is delivered in many capacities. Hope that answers your question here.
Are you happy Obama won the election? Did you vote? Do you think it’s important to participate?
I vote, but I typically vote for local propositions. I would rather not say who I voted for. I don’t feel the United States has a proper democracy and the issue at hand is much too large to address in an interview. But there are a couple things to focus on. The concept of “lesser of two evils” and the fact that money controls the two party system, bringing it away from what a democracy should be.
What do you think about bands and artists closely attached to PETA? Do you support it?
Some of our band does openly support them. I doubt that anyone in the band is opposed to the organization, it’s just that we all pick and choose out battles and things pertaining to animal rights are not for everyone in RETOX. The first step in aligning with an organization such as PETA would be to have a plant based diet, which the band as a whole does not.
Do you celebrate Christmas? What would you like this year? [smiles]
I do celebrate it by default. It’s hard to ignore the holiday. However I have chosen to not include the religion and consumer aspects that tend to take the front seat. I look at it as more of a “Winter Holiday” or I would even go as far and say that I feel Kwanza would be more in tune with my belief system.
Ok. Here’s a random metaphysical closing question [smiles]. What’s science-fictional in RETOX?
Depends on the reality one lives in. What we think is science fiction could not be agreed upon by others. But some of us are very interested in time travel, astronomy, various conspiracy theories, and so on.
Thanks so much for your time, man! Really appreciate it.