Interview with Justin Pearson of RETOX!

Got really high and watched a documentary made about Retox and their latest album in prep for this interview, and ended up finding one of my most favourite music documentaries of all time. Honestly watch it, I'll attach the video at the end of this email interview with Justin Pearson.  

When you say in your doc that you're always thinking about music I imagine you guys mid bone/mid shit/mid pizza slice just with a notepad writing down ideas or playing air guitar... has there ever been really odd moments like that when you've suddenly come up with some lyric or riff or beat that you needed to write down?
JP: Not to sound like a prick but to reference “mid bone, or mid shit”, seems a bit immature. I think for me, and maybe for the rest of the band and my comrades in the documentary, it was not as literal as you put it. But it was more so a way of explaining that our minds work certain ways. For me, I will hear things, such as the timbre of a sound being made by a piece of machinery, or I would read a sentence in an article and see lyrical content. Just the same, I often wake up with a melody or “riff” in my head and want to somehow document that for potential use.

Do you feel a different type of energy out of the crowd when you're playing a song off YPLL as opposed to Ugly Animals because of how that album has progressed? Is that something that you can sense on stage at all, them responding to the difference .. vibes I guess?
JP: There is a relationship with an audience no matter what is going on. The difference from one situation to the next, or even among a certain set to a certain audience, things vary and there are plenty of factors to consider. For me, I really don’t focus on the situation as band and audience. For me, I thing awkward situations are relevant and challenging. So where a band would be playing a “hit” and the audience is singing along and so on is rad and all. But it is by far the easiest and most accessable outcome of a live music setting. The thing is, once the first hit or note is played in a set, things tend to become irrational and uncontrollable until the set is over. There are many outcomes that would be produced by a room full of people and non of it is ever really considered or dwelled upon until after the fact. The only difference from playing tracks off of “Ugly Animals” or “YPLL” depends on the bands feelings towards the material. Eventually we find ourselves cutting select numbers due to all sorts of reasons, usually that we feel it no longer holds merit among the catalog that we draw from.

I read somewhere that one of you hit a kid in the face on stage in Sacramento (not sure if it was accidental or on purpose) and gave him a black eye, but also a "wake up call" that kept him off dope? Like, how the fuck does it feel to hear something like that?
That was me, and it was on purpose. Well, I wanted to get him to chill out, as he was acting like a dick. My initial reaction was not very calculated but I smashed him in the face and messed up his nose. I felt bad right away and apologized right away, but followed up with an explanation, which he reacted in a positive manner. After the show we got to talking and the outcome was much better than I had expected it to be and certainly much better than it would be if it had involved anyone else other than the guy I hit. We ended up becoming friends and to this day, I consider him a great guy, a comrade, and a friend. He relapsed that night I smashed his face and for whatever reason my reaction towards how he was acting stopped him from his substance abuse.

Any fond Retox tour bonding moments?
Bonding moments on tour are constantly happening. Being in a moving vehicle for anywhere from 2 to 18 hours a day typically allows for situations to present themselves, across the board, when you have a small bunch of people traveling together. Then factor in being in a different cities every single day, factor in friends and family that you might run into, and you get those said moments very often. Fond ones are abundance at this point. Some warrant being mentioned but at this point, I am not sure where to start.

What's the very first thing you do when you get home from a long tour?
The very first thing would depend on where we are coming from. Flying in from another country, I tend to gravitate to getting Mexican food. Driving home, I end up showering and sleeping. No matter where I come from I typically end up going to work the following day. And of course, spending time with my dog.

I love to ask about really gross tour experiences like in disgusting bathrooms or terrible places you've had to stay.. anything that pops into your mind when you think of the grossest, worst tour moment!
I first toured when I was 15. I’m 38 now. I have probably seen it all… bloody beds, drug paraphernalia, shit heads, scum bags, filth, etc. I’ve been in really bad situations, around really bad people. It’s all irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. I’ve played in squats, been robbed, beat up, stranded, you name it. Basically by this point, my perception of gross or even bad stuff is so skewed.

Looking back at all the years you guys have played in bands and all the different experiences you've had, what is the biggest lesson you've learned and what advice would you give kids in bands now?
JP: First off, I don’t think I am fit to give advice for such a varied topic. People need to learn the meaning of things on their own. As far as things I have learned, I would say the biggest and maybe most important is the basics of survival. Anything from literally not dying to surviving among cultures, a changing industry, a changing world, and staying relevant and honest. But again, I would stray away from giving any such advice.

What new bands have perked your ear boners lately, if any? 
JP: Current bands (not necessarilarly new): Warsawwasraw, Doomsday Student, Secret Fun Club, Zeus, Hot Nerds, Innerds, Bastard Noise, Ssleaze, Narrows.

What music have you been playing in the van so far on this tour?
In the van so far: Dave Van Ronk, Scott Walker, Swans, Pissed Jeans, Ninos Du Brasil, Los Crudos, Divorce, Abner Jay, and lots of NPR.

How pumped are you to come play for us here in Toronto!?
Pumped. I really dig Toronto.

Retox (o/f Dillinger Escape Plan, Trashtalk, Shining)
Apr. 7 – Montreal – Le National
Apr. 9 – Toronto – Opera House
Apr. 13 – Winnipeg – West End Cultural Centre
Apr. 14 – Saskatoon – Louis’ Pub
Apr. 15 – Edmonton – Starlite Room
Apr. 16 – Calgary – Republik
Apr. 18 – Vancouver – Rickshaw Theatre