Deaf Club, the new band featuring Justin Pearson (The Locust, Dead Cross, Three One G Records), along with Brian Amalfitano (ACxDC), Scott Osment (Weak Flesh), Jason Klein (Run With The Hunted), and Tommy Meehan (The Manx, Chum Out!), have just released their debut full-length, Productive Disruption, on Pearson’s Three One G label.
The new album features a heady mix of hardcore punk, powerviolence, d-beat, and straight-up noise, along with witty, incisive, lyrics which take aim at all that is wrong with society. It’s one sharp shock to the system and easily one of the better releases of the new year.
So, with the new record out, we thought it would be a great time to talk to Pearson and get his thoughts about all things Deaf Club.
When it came time to write and record Deaf Club’s full-length debut, what kind of statement were you trying make with the lyrics and the music?
It’s strange to consider the lyrical content for a larger piece of work. I think song by song, I tend to have an agenda, a vibe, or a specific message. But over the course of, say, months, as an album is being written, my mood changes, and the messages I want to convey aren’t as cohesive as things would be on an album that is specifically written thematically.
At times, I tend to find most of the lyrics I write to be seemingly negative in tone, and I trip out on that aspect. As much as I think the opposite of love is not hate, that it’s apathy, I try to say something in a positive manner whenever I can or see fit. Either way, it almost always comes down to some form of protest. I mean, most of what we do is typically viewed as protest music, and when you love something, you fight for it.
Let’s consider the world of lyrics in music, and I try to avoid all kinds of shit. I unfortunately can’t write love songs. It’s not that I don’t want to, or that I am not in love, but I think with the sheer absurdity, and tension brought by the music of Deaf Club, the voice should mirror that. It must be nice for those people who write lyrics about peaceful things, or arbitrary nondescript stuff, like musical fluff.
Even if we were an instrumental band, and I wasn’t the vocalist, I’d listen to the sounds and hear a message. Perhaps it wouldn’t be as clear with words, but to me, it reflects the world that the players live in. Let’s face it, we are aiming to get our music in a car commercial. We can leave the capitalist endeavors to real musicians, and the artists can fuck with the rest of the world, and it’s many issues.
However, I may have slightly avoided the question, but that was not my intention. I think there needs to be preparation before I lunge into trying to spell out the statement or meaning of art that we create. I prefer to leave the deciphering up to the listener, for them to grab what they can and want to from it all. That is on them, not me. And luckily enough, if someone can’t figure out the message or messages, they can always refer to the album art, or a live performance, and then hopefully formulate what sort of musical manifesto we are presenting.
Productive Disruption was recorded on the same day the right-wing Insurrection took place at our nation’s capital. Did your anger toward that, effect how the record turned out?
As I mentioned in the previous question, I think the world we live in is reflected in the art we create. If Right-Wing-Neo-Fascist-Christians who are partially stupid, partially misled, and who all may completely lack empathy took it upon themselves to engage and create a situation like the insurrection, well that is on them. They certainly helped write our album. I’m not sure it’s that easy to say that we had anger, and that it affected aspects of our album per se, but more so a multifaceted array of emotion such as depression, sorrow, anxiety, and yeah … anger which were all present. I suppose I was just left trying to figure out if police lives matter to them or not.
The new album also takes aim at a lot of the problems going on in society right now. How important do you think it is to address those sorts of things in your music?
If the problems exist, we should be addressing those issues. Sure, we are just a band, but we are communicating with the listeners through the tool that we have created. Even if they hate it, we at least know they heard what we have to say. And that might not even be just about the lyrical content. I hope someone like Jake Angeli would hate our band right out of the gates, before he could even grasp what I’m singing about.
I mean, the dude compared himself to Jesus Christ and then cried to his mother about not having organic meals in prison … a grown man did that. Yes, it’s important to address the topics we bring up in our music, very important.
In addition, many of the song titles on the new album have sarcastic, titles. Some of them made me grin. How important do you think it is to keep a little sense of humor when dealing with such subjects?
One thing I learned at an early age is, humor wins. My first band, Struggle, was overly political. There was no room for jokes, which was fine, we were 15 and 16 and very pissed off. But I think if you are performing to the opposition, the only way you can grab their attention is by being clever and to use wit whenever possible. And if you are performing to your community you’d hope and assume they are already on the same page. Either way, humor is a decent tool to have in your back pocket, and that tool can reach a bit further out than without it. Wait till you see our EP that comes out after this LP, it’s basically a comedy album, from the cover art, to the song titles, to the music.
You’ve also released a bunch of interesting videos for singles off the new album. How important is it to have a thought provoking, or just plain interesting video, to go along with the music side of things?
Awww, well as much as I do enjoy music videos and visuals, from a marketing perspective, I am well aware that people have diminished attention spans, and visuals are one added sensory element to try to grab onto in hopes to reel in the listener. I also think stuff like album art is very important, and then videos are an extension of the sounds related to each song. Sometimes the videos nail it. Sometimes, there is a director’s vision, and we invited them into the band and handed over the track for them to create something to accompany it.
Mostly it’s a collaborative effort where we have to consider the fact that we are all primarily working with no budget for anything we are doing. But yes, videos are relevant, and hopefully thought provoking to some extent. And if anything, it’s added texture, whereas a live performance video is not actually conveying a message, but helping the listener grab more info on the players. The people who direct our videos are all family and are in the same boat as we are. And for me, it’s nice to let someone create an additional limb to the song, and see someone’s mind work in conjunction with ours.
You tend to have a lot of different bands going on at the same time. Why is that? And what need does Deaf Club fill that your other bands do not fill?
I get asked this question often, and I don’t see it that way at all. Currently, the only active bands I have are Deaf Club and The Locust. Bands that still exist that I’m part of may not always be active. Dead Cross has sat on our new LP for a couple years, waiting for it to be completed. Planet B and Satanic Planet are two bands I’m in with Luke Henshaw, and we both work very similarly as far as our involvement with different projects, so as he got busy with his other work, I did the same, placing stuff on hold.
Anyhow, I’ll circle back to other stuff in due time. I think with Deaf Club, since our drummer lives in Austin, and the rest of the band in Los Angeles, while I’m in San Diego, it doesn’t make sense to have weekly rehearsals and be a “normal” functioning band. But my long(er) list of projects may be due to a couple things. One, my inability to not do something all the time. And two, the fact that I have created a means to push art out into the world via Three One G, and also in relation to other labels that I share camaraderie with.
I will say that Deaf Club was a conscious effort to start due to a couple logistical things in my life. Initially, I was trying to put a live band together for a project that Nick Zinner and I had, called More Pain, which was basically for a film that was never released. Nick and I discussed performing live until I realized that the band only had a minute and a half worth of music, and to start that as a functioning act would not be practical.
I had talked to Brian Amfiltano and Scott Osment about jamming as part of More Pain, and it was at that time when Retox officially broke up, and I felt that a band such as Deaf Club could easily fill that void. Granted, the two bands are vastly different, due to the players. But as far as my duties as a vocalist in a hardcore band that was located in Los Angeles, it seemed to fit that shoe.
The music on the new record is fast, noisy, and aggressive. Was that what you were aiming for? Is that the way you like your music to sound? Do you ever think you would slow it down at some point?
I feel that some of the material on the new LP is a bit too much. Fast might not be the right word. Speed isn’t the issue, but the sheer density and often absurdity of the music is what I think can be an issue. I think we are still learning and growing. With Tommy Meehan recently joining the band, we have been able to step things up to a different level, which is more apparent on our upcoming EP, which will be out after the LP we have been discussing.
As far as noisy, yeah, noise is great. I think sounds that are not “normal” or not always pleasant are effective and help create emotion. Same for the timbre of sounds, which is often ignored by many creators of music. And aggressive, well, I touched upon that previously in this interview. I think aggression can be looked at as a negative or positive thing, and I don’t necessarily think we are “aggressive.” There is tension, absurdity, and unsettling elements in the music, but that is the point.
I don’t think art has to be pleasant to the ear to enjoy. Here are two analogies that might help me explain myself … One, when you listen to a “punk rock” band from the past, or a band who is playing a more traditional sound of punk, it sort of sounds precious now. There aren’t a lot of the elements which punk was created from in modern sounds anymore. Punk evolved. Or de-evolved, depending on which critic you ask. All I know is we can throw out nihilism and sub par technical proficiency and leave that stuff with the corpse of Sid Vicious. And the other analogy is food. Food that is good for you, that is fuel for your mind and body, does not always taste as good as the garbage that a lot of people tend to consume. Most people know they eat garbage and willingly continue to do so.
Now that Productive Disruption is out, what are the plans for the band? Will there be touring outside of California (depending on what is going on with the pandemic)? Or will you be going right into making another record?
We’d like to tour, even with all things considered. But it doesn’t seem to be financially viable for a new band to try to get out there as much as we’d all like to. The pandemic certainly jacked up a lot of our lives in many ways. So a full tour of this planet may take a little longer than we’d like, but we plan to do it as soon as we can. And for a new record, there is an EP in production which has three new songs and a Pixies cover. We’ve also written new materla past that as well as toyed around with the idea of covering a very influential band’s album. So there is a lot in the pipeline for Deaf Club. We paid our membership dues and are not going away.
Photo Credit: Becky DiGiglio
Purchase Productive Disruption here.