Justin Pearson

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Justin Pearson
Born (1975-08-20) August 20, 1975 (age 40)
Origin San Diego, United States
Genres Noise rock, hardcore punk, grindcore, math rock, mathcore, powerviolence
Occupation(s) Musician, vocalist
Instruments Vocals, bass guitar
Years active 1991–present
Labels Three One G, Gold Standard Laboratories, ANTI-, Epitaph, Dim Mak Records
Associated acts Struggle, Swing Kids, The Crimson Curse, The Locust, Holy Molar, Some Girls, Head Wound City, The Blood Brothers, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Bastard Noise, Retox, Ground Unicorn Horn, All Leather
Notable instruments

Ampeg Dan Armstrong Lucite

Rickenbacker 4001

Justin Pearson (born August 20, 1975) is a vocalist and bassist known for his prolific music career, playing in a number of San Diego-based noise rock, punk and grindcore bands, as well as his record label Three One G Records. Starting off in the punk outfit Struggle in 1994, ensuing projects included Swing Kids, The Locust, The Crimson Curse, Holy Molar, Head Wound City, Ground Unicorn Horn, Brain Tourniquet, All Leather, and Retox. He has collaborated with Jimmy LaValle, Gabe Serbian, Mark McCoy, Wesley Eisold, Karen O, Nick Zinner, Jordan Blilie, Cody Votolato, The Bloody Beetroots, Vegamoore and members of Bastard Noise, among others.

Pearson has been cited as an influence for his work in Swing Kids and The Locust on the genres of noise rock,[1] powerviolence, and what has been dubbed "freak punk."[2]

Early life[edit]

Justin Pearson was born on August 20, 1975 and initially raised in Phoenix, Arizona by his parents.[3] He was an only child[4] and went by the nickname J.P.[5] Pearson has stated he liked music and the aesthetics of rock music since he was little.[3][6]

Around ten his mother's cousin let him borrow a guitar, and he eventually moved onto bass.[3] He also began skateboarding and listening to the Thrasher skate/rock compilation tapes with bands like Septic Death, the Sex Pistols, The Misfits,[4] and Suicidal Tendencies. He has stated he was especially drawn towards the music that touched on social politics.[6] Pearson also got into break dancing and early rap like Run DMC and the Beastie Boys, as well as developing an interest in metal. In Phoenix he lived a couple blocks away from some of the bandmembers of Slayer.[3]

When Pearson was twelve years old his father was murdered.[4] Later that year in 1987, Pearson and his mother moved to San Diego, California,[5] specifically Clairemont.[7] His mother's new boyfriend moved with them,[4] and Pearson has stated that the man was physically and emotionally abusive towards both of them. At his new middle school he also faced death threats and attacks from skinhead students.[5]

Pearson continued to play guitar, taking a few lessons before teaching himself how to play the instrument with friends.[3] At age 13 he met future collaborator Eric Allen.[8] He met and befriended Matt Anderson of End of the Line at the age of 14.[7]

Pearson was soon exposed to the unique San Diego hardcore punk scene[6] and began attending all the all-ages shows he could,[7] discovering influential local bands such as Amenity, Heroin, Forced Down, Drive Like Jehu, and Crash Worship.[5] He also attended metal shows at house parties, eventually discovering Che Café,[7] an all-ages venue on the campus of UC San Diego.[6] The Che frequently hosted underground metal and punk bands. At the venue he saw shows by Blast, Chain of Strength, Carcass, Chumbawumba, Crossed Out, Inside Out, Filth, and Sleep.[7] Pearson befriended a number of the musicians,[5] stating "I'd go [to the Che] and talk to all the bands. They were really down-to-earth people, but they had this art that was just mind-blowing. When they played they would turn into ax murderers on instruments."[6]

Early music career[edit]


At age fifteen he founded the band Struggle with friends he had met through high school and local concerts. The different members' taste in music was diverse, but they were all fans and friends of bands like Born Against, Downcast, Unbroken, and other hardcore punk groups.[7] The band went on its first tour that year in 1991, and Pearson has since described how he saw his bandmates as his adopted family.[4]

At the age of 16,[4] his home situation escalated to Pearson having to fight back against his mother's boyfriend, and he was kicked out of the house. He stayed in school and graduated, living off social security checks from his father's death. When not in school he also continued to tour with Struggle,[5] and while touring they met bands such as Filth and Rorschach, and Blatz.[5] Struggle released recordings on Undertow Records, Ebullition Records, and Bloodlink Records, and disbanded in 1994.[8]

Swing Kids[edit]

After the dissolution of Struggle in 1994, Pearson co-founded the band Swing Kids, an early San Diego hardcore and noise rock group. He formed the band along with Eric Allen of Unbroken, Jimmy LaValle of The Album Leaf, Jose Palafox, John Brady, and Michelle Maskovich. Pearson served as vocalist and sole lyricist, and has described the themes as largely influenced by social political issues.[8] Their music was characterized by Pearson's spoken/screamed vocals and their melodic/chaotic rhythms and song structures. The group disbanded in 1997.

Swing Kids are also credited with the unintentional creation of the fad "Spock Rock" during the mid-1990s; largely due to many of their fans emulating Pearson's fashion sense and hair style. Pearson has expressed dislike of the term.[5]

Three One G[edit]

Also in 1994[9] Pearson founded the independent label Three One G, or 31G Records. The first album released on the new label was the 1994 single "And / Fall On Proverb" by San Diego metalcore band Unbroken. The second release was a reissue of the recent debut album from Swing Kids.[10] He funded the label with the financial aid he was receiving from the community college he was attending,[7] and has stated he was partly inspired to start 31G by Vinyl Communications and Gravity Records.[5] In 1998 Allysia Edwards joined with Pearson as a partner at the label, and their annual output began to increase.[10]

The Locust[edit]

Starting in 1994, he became bassist and joint vocalist for the new band The Locust,[11] formed with musicians such as Gabe Serbian and Joey Karam. The Locust was initially a powerviolence project whose first release was a split with genre pioneers Man Is the Bastard. Later releases incorporated synthesizers and became increasingly theatrical.[12] The band regularly played shows in all-ages punk clubs in Los Angeles and San Diego,[6] usually donning insect costumes.[12]

Pearson performing with The Locust

The Locust is Pearson's best-known work, and became known for their unique mix of grindcore speed and aggression,[13] mathcore complexity, and new wave weirdness. According to Pearson, "I just want to change the way people look at music or maybe just destroy it in general."[12] Stylus described the band's sound as "Relentless blitzkriegs of high velocity noise, skinny tie keyboards and bloody screaming that often last less than a minute, Locust songs are tightly-wound, dynamic and bizarre expressions of frustration and hatred whose intensity and creativity are currently unparalleled in punk rock."[13] The band has also been praised by Dave Lombardo of Slayer, who said "There's a band called The Locust, and their music hits me now like D.R.I. hit me in the early '80s".[14]

While with The Locust the band and Pearson organized a number of "gender-baiting incidents," including Pearson and drummer Gabe Serbian staging a fake same-sex marriage while on tour in Hawaii.[6] At one point in 1998, Scott Beiben, the owner of the record label Bloodlink, called up The Jerry Springer Show and orchestrated a hoax[8] for Pearson to appear on the show as a "rock-star slut." Pearson wore a T-shirt for The Locust during the appearance, which culminated in a kiss with Beiben.[6] Pearson later stated "I was beat up during a commercial break by one of the 'security guards' pretty bad for blowing snot on the carpet."[8]

Crimson Curse[edit]

Founded in 1998,[8] The Crimson Curse was Pearson's first group to include keyboards and elements of deathrock. According to Pearson the band was an attempt to return a sense of lunacy and excitement to the hardcore punk scene, which had begun to appear dry and pedantic to Pearson. Pearson says he modeled the group on the Dead Boys.[8] The band also included Jimmy LaValle of The Album Leaf and Jesse F Keeler of Death from Above 1979/ MSTRKRFT. Pearson has stated "we got all these fucked up kids together. Made some punk music. That was it. But as a band we didn't get very far." A review of the band's first demo stated "The recording was horrible, but was enough for me to realize that they sounded godlike."[8]

Later career[edit]

The Holy Molar

Pearson began to frequently collaborate with other musicians on Three One G, joining as bassist for the band Holy Molar from 2001 to 2007; in addition to Locust members Pearson, Gabe Serbian, and Bobby Bray, the group included Ron Avila (formerly of Antioch Arrow) and Mark McCoy (formerly of Charles Bronson and Das Oath).

Some Girls

Some Girls, founded in 2002, was another Three One G supergroup that played in a hybrid of mathcore, grindcore with Justin again on bass and vocals.[15] and noise rock. They released several albums, including in 2005 the The DNA Will Have Its Say EP. Pearson played bass, and Karen O of the band Yeah Yeah Yeahs performed guest vocals on the title track. The band's breakup was announced in a Punknews article, published October 23, 2007.[16]

Head Wound City

From 2002 to 2005 he played bass in Head Wound City. Along with Pearson, consists of Jordan Blilie and Cody Votolato of The Blood Brothers, Nick Zinner from Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Gabe Serbian, of The Locust and Holy Molar.[11]

Bastard Noise

Bastard Noise is a noise music group that Pearson was a part of in 2008. They recorded the full-length Rogue Astronaut with Bobby Bray and Justin Pearson providing vocals on "Tyranny Beyond Earth Eplilogue."


Retox is a noise-meets-punk four-piece who released their debut album, "Ugly Animals," in Ipecac Recordings in August 2011. The band has toured extensively over the past year and released their sophomore album YPLL in 2013.

Current projects[edit]

All Leather[edit]

All Leather, his current band, was founded in 2008. It consists of Pearson on vocals, Nathan Joyner on guitar, Jung Sing on drums, and Eric Livingston on synthesizers.They released their debut EP Hung Like A Horse on Dim Mak Records. In August 2009 they released a remix album entitled Hung Like a Donut, also on Dim Mak. On September 12, 2010, All Leather won the San Diego Music Awards "Best Hard Rock Album" category for their album When I Grow Up, I Wanna Fuck Like a Girl.


From 2008 he also been a member of Leg Lifters, which consists of Pearson and Nathan Joyner of All Leather. Leg Lifters is considered a production team. They produce a radio show with Vestal Radio, web video episodes, and remixes.

Pearson was featured on the Vegamoore song "They Keep on Fucking" www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uxm87hUsn6M, Designer Drugs song "Dead Meat." Pearson is a featured vocalist on a song, "Romborama" from The Bloody Beetroots debut LP, Romborama. He toured in Australia with The Bloody Beetroots in 2009.

By 2011 Pearson had co-founded and was touring with the band Retox,[1] a band with Gabe Serbian of the Locust, Mike Crain from The Festival of Dead Deer, and Thor Dickey. In late 2011 Retox has toured again changing Gabe Serbian with Brian Evans as drummer giving also a show with Vegamoore in Italy featured Justin Pearson at the vocals and Brian Evans at the drums www.youtube.com/watch?v= j8Z6x98hUA.[17]


  1. ^ a b Ahrendt, Daniel (March 8, 2011). "Retox: Three One G's Newest Punk Supergroup Release Free EP". SSG Music. Retrieved 2011-09-14. 
  2. ^ Clark, Alistair. "Spotlight: Three One G Records". Dirty Zine. Retrieved 2011-09-14. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Roeschlein, Shane (August 14, 2007). "Situation of Noise: An interview with Justin Pearson of The Locust". A Coat of Red Paint in Hell. Retrieved 2011-09-14. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Delmar, Sari (February 10, 2007). "The Locust: "No One Ever Really Listened to Me"". Truth Explosion. Retrieved 2011-09-14. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i "An Interview With Justin Pearson". San Diego Punk. October 2005. Retrieved 2011-09-14.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h "A Day With the Locust". LA Weekly. September 18, 2003. Retrieved 2011-09-14. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Kroviak, Todd (January 9, 2009). "Interview with Justin Pearson of The Locust". Last Blog on Earth. Retrieved 2011-09-14. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h "Justin Pearson interview". Skatepunk. January–March 2000. Retrieved 2011-09-14. 
  9. ^ "QRD interview with Justin Pearson of Three One G". QRD. January 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-14. 
  10. ^ a b Gnade, Adam. "Three One G Records". Hardcore Discography. Retrieved 2011-09-14. 
  11. ^ a b "Epitaph interview". Epitaph. May 5, 2006. Retrieved 2011-09-14. 
  12. ^ a b c "Bands and Performers: The Locust". San Diego Reader. Retrieved 2011-07-20. 
  13. ^ a b "The Locust - Artist Profile". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved 2011-07-20. 
  14. ^ "Mark of the Beat," Revolver: The Book of Slayer Special, November 2009, p. 54.
  15. ^ Corey Apar, Heaven's Pregnant Teens review, Allmusic. Access date: August 23, 2008.
  16. ^ "Some Girls (2002-2007)". Punknews.org. Retrieved 2011-07-20. 
  17. ^ "Interview w/Justin Pearson (Locust/Retox)". NewNoise. May 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-14. 

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