360 with Three One G's Justin Pearson

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Justin Pearson

The other day while kicking it with some of my San Diego crew, the subject of Three One G Records and label boss (and member of The Locust / Retox) Justin Pearson came up in conversation. “If I had my laptop on me I could show you a picture of [Justin] and I hanging to prove that we're totes bros”, my buddy bragged over a couple pints of brew. Then after learning of the Bastard Noise / Geronimo 12″ split Inertia, I had to hear more and get further insight into one of SD's most storied imprints. Never one to be outdone by anyone, I caught up with Mr. Pearson in a conversation that follows a listen to a few cuts from the split.

Bastard Noise breaks anything and everything in their path down to brass tacks on, “Reduced To Dry Weight”. On this recipe for reduction, atmospheric expanses continuously open and swallow the sounds of far away explosions, artillery exchanges and screams cried out toward illusions of an overarching deity. The sound exercises continue throughout like an intense ambient outing where the states of suspense are built between experiments that turn conventional instruments into drills of demolition. But all this is not your average powerviolence theater of punishment, as the visceral soundscape burns with a sound-stage setup that brings to mind what we hope video game music and effects sound like in the future.

On Geronimo's “Western Exterminator”, drums get pummeled against a steady stream of blasts and bursts of guitars and other instruments of destruction. The steady percussion leads everything down a road of perdition where at some point the vocals cry for a blood letting where an all out war between all audio devices breaks out. By the end of the almost ten minute duration of “Exterminator”, only the violence of the rhythm and serpentine hisses of noise survive the onslaught.

Justin Pearson and I discuss the split with plenty of thoughts on the ever expanding 31G family.

From Three One G's beginnings with your band The Locust, working with Swing Kids, Unbroken, to Neanderthal, Charred Remains, Crossed Out, Man Is The Bastard to the recent Bastard Noise / Geronimo split, what kind of developments, discoveries and evolutions have you noted over these lengths of time?

Well, first off, I wish I had worked directly with Neanderthal, Charred Remains, Crossed Out, and MITB. That Neanderthal/ Rorschach split 7” blew my mind when I was a kid. Nonetheless, it was an honor to have had the opportunity to share the stage many times with MITB and Crossed Out. I lucked out geographically, I suppose.

As for the common thread in a lot of the stuff mentioned in your question, Eric Wood is one of my comrades and a brother in many respects. So with that being said, he and most of what he does fits into my concept of family. Even in recent years, having the opportunity to sing on Bastard Noise’s album that Gravity released, which is just one more element related to my mention of geographical luck. Gravity in itself also was a huge influence to what Three One G was to become. As far as the discoveries and evolutions, that is a hard thing to nail down in an interview. Ideally, the concept of art would be too massive to tackle in just one answer as part of this interview. For me, a lot of what I have been part of was created out of the subconscious and then only in retrospect did I recognize the evolutionary process of a lot of elements of what I was doing or what was going around me. Not to sound cheesy, but for me being part of what I do was not something I chose. It chose me. I had no say in the matter.

How did the split with Eric Wood of Bastard Noise and Geronimo come about?

As I said, I have had a working relationship with Eric over the last 20 plus years. Bastard Noise had been part of the Queen tribute compilation that Three One G released a while back and then had toured and played shows with The Locust or other projects I was doing. One of the line ups in specific that Bastard Noise had was with WT Nelson, and they did part of The Locust’s 'New Erections' tour. WT gave me the unreleased Geronimo album, which ended up being put out by Three One G, and needless to say, it was amazing and one of my all time favorite albums. So recently, WT and Eric approached me about releasing the split 12” which I obviously was completely into. Sal Gallegos, who also runs Three One G with me was in Geronimo for a brief time, so that was also one more added element as to why we should be releasing the split on Three One G… all coming back to the concept of family. And to add to that, again, we can factor in how Jonas Rosen is also featured on the Bastard Noise material. Jonas was in Asterisk, who has been part of Three One G over the years as well.

The split too is a great example of two groups on your roster that take two completely different approaches to wielding the power of squalling sounds. Bastard Noise's “Reduced To Dry Weight” has a cavernous presence and weight while Geronimo takes a very spondaic and rhythmic timing to creating clamor to the beat of their own drum. What are some of the secrets of curating an imprint with such a variety of artists with such a diversity of musical approaches all living under the same label roof?

This is a great question and very interesting observations. Thanks for giving Three One G so much credit, but I might have to throw a wrench in this answer here. To me, growing up in Southern California, things were always different with music. Especially in San Diego, we were able to do whatever we wanted. A pivotal show in my life was Unbroken, Undertow, Clikitat Ikatowi, and Slant 6. On paper, that seems wrong. But for us, it was perfect. Just like seeing MITB with Clikitat and Crossed out play with Chain of Strength, or Tit Wrench with Born Against. We literally were free to do whatever we wanted. So with Three One G, our roster, or family holds a large span of the musical or artistic spectrum. So for Three One G, it has to be that basic element of community, but with that being said, there has to be soul among the artists who are part of it. On paper, our roster might seem absurd. But to me and hopefully to the artists involved it’s all just part of a musical family.

What have been some of the challenges of being both an artist from various bands, projects while also running a label?

Some of the challenges would be financial instability and lack of financial strength and backing. I am limited as to what I can and cannot do. Which is partially why I end up working with other labels in bands I do or even co-releases linked with Three One G. But at this juncture, I am a bit smarter about who I work with and who we align ourselves with on a business level. I am still learning and I still get burnt, but I push on and try to make what I do and what I am in control of better. I just wish I had more funds to do all that I want to and more importantly, I wish I could pay the artists on Three One G more money…money that any talented and creative person should get to live off of.

What have been some of the upswings of being both an artist and running a label?

Complete control and with that being said, when things go bad, I know exactly who to blame.

Thoughts on the future of labels?

Let’s discuss this in a few years.

What can we expect next from 31G?

Well we have a few upcoming releases. One is a new Leg Lifters 7” single, which features Travis from Cattle Decapitation. We are also working on a reprint of my book, How to Lose Friends and Irritate People. There is talk about a couple other albums but none are in production so I would like to refrain from discussing in fear that for some odd reason they do not come out on Three One G. I’m also working on the score with Gabe Serbian and Luke Henshaw to a film by Asia Argento, that I acted in recently. Ideally there will be ties to Three One G due to the music and people involved.

Just heard about you both scoring and playing a lead in the upcoming Asia Argento film with Charlotte Gainsbourg. How did this all happen? What's the film called, what's it about?

I'm not sure I played a lead in the film. However, I am a character with lines and so on. I also play music in the film. As far as how it came about, my friend Echo who was working as a music supervisor on another film that licensed some Retox songs as well as a Leg Lifters remix of Warsawwasraw put Asia in touch with me and then it all unfolded. The film is called Incompresa.

What's next in the cards for The Locust and Retox? Like your excellent boycott of playing in Clear Channel sponsored venues, what are some of your current causes that we all should be hipped to?

The Locust has been playing here and there but I think we are going to cut back and take a longer break from being active in hopes that some of the members can tackle things that have been pressing. But in due time, I am sure the band will be fully active. As for Retox, we are working on a split with Narrows and a follow up LP to YPLL. Lastly, the current causes thing, well I would say that Clear Channel is not nearly as ugly as it was about a decade ago. I have focused on things that are more relevant such as support for Pussy Riot, or more importantly, the concept of art and free speech. Also recognizing current politics and issues that are in the forefront of the world I live in. Being on tour in the US in 2013 and seeing racist, anti choice and religious right wing garbage, and rampant homophobia being presented in certain parts of the country only fuels the fire for what my comrades and I will be creating.

The Bastard Noise / Geronimo 12″ split Inertia is available now from 31G.