Justin Pearson: Punk Ethics

[Photo Credit: Alexander Sizonenko]

As a musical genre, punk’s not commonly considered to be riddled with nuance, suggestion, or surprise. What you see is what you get. It’s either on or it’s off. Loud or louder. Rude, bombastic, brutal, or maybe a mix of all of the above. Like it or go home. But every now and then, someone or something comes along to challenge everything you thought you knew about anything ever. Enter Mr. Justin Pearson.

By the impressionable age of 12, Justin had infiltrated Phoenix, Arizona’s hardscrabble punk rock scene. Going to shows like Suicidal Tendencies and Fugazi, Justin’s moral, social, and political points of view began taking shape. A code of ethics formed around the chaos of his internal and external worlds; and it wasn’t long before this shitty, pissed-off kid figured out punk’s far more than mere rebellious veneer. It’s a way of life, requiring absolute independence while maintaining respect for yourself and your environment.

Over the past 20 years, Justin Pearson has become one of hardcore’s most formidable figures: He’s the owner of Three One G Records; bassist for bands like Dead Cross, The Locust, and Head Wound City; and Retox and Planet B vocalist. Justin’s signature sound has found its way around the globe many times over. This rude, screamy, aggressive sum reserves its right to go anywhere it wants whenever it pleases.

Justin and I met backstage after Dead Cross played Denver last fall. It was the end of the night on the final date of the band’s first tour. Talking to Justin, I found myself surprised at how someone so pleasant could make such devastating music. A contradiction of sorts, I suppose, or maybe more so a product of my own misguided presumptions. Either way, my presumptions were busted into a thousand smithereens that night. Now I’m honestly not sure if contradictions even exist. Maybe some things just go together and it’s not ours to make sense of them? Rather, we should just smile and say “fuck yeah” when they feel right.

Veronika Sprinkel Ink. proudly presents an interview with legendary hardcore musician Justin Pearson. A conversation about ethics, origins, and some other stuff too. This one’s a real feast for your eyes, ears, and brain… Bon appétit.

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