5 Unlikely Collaborations I Can’t Believe I’ve Done, by Justin Pearson (Planet B)

Photo: Becky DiGiglio

I’m not entirely sure where to start with this. I would like to explain a few things before I dive into some of the stuff that I have been part of in my time on this planet. I tend to be open to just about anything that is presented to me. Of course, if something is not up to par, musically, artistically, or holds no merit or value, I would obviously pass. But at times, I’m not sure what something will lead to, however I would rather give things a try, and challenge myself in some way, then just pass for the sheer fact that it’s not my confort zone. And if it ended up being a bust, I just write a book about it, ie. How to Lose Friends and Irritate People.

With that being said, let’s address the content of How to Lose Friends and Irritate People. I went down a pretty extensive EDM wormhole in the past. I think I was a bit too critical on the stuff I did, and had expectations that just were not able to be met. A lot of EDM that I got involved with seemed a little lazy. The material was a bit too obvious, and lacked substance. I’m probably a dick for saying this, but if you are going to sing about rioting, you should be down to take shit to the streets and not just settle for bottle service and an STD.

I suppose my time in the electronic dance music world served a purpose because it pushed me into All Leather and even other thighs that I can stand behind. It also magnified the us against them mentality that I unfortunately used to have more often than I wish I did. With all that shit I talked on what I did as well as myself, I think that I have always tried to blur genres, or grab influences from odd places. It seems to be a San Diego thing to me, since I grew up in the city, having my overly-politics-metal-hardcore-band play with rappers, jazz trios, Cumbia artists, and acoustic folk acts. I suppose the crap I did in the EDM world also ties into some of what Planet B does now. So I should probably thank those artists who initially wanted to collaborate with me in the past, sending me on a journey to better pastures.

I guess another obvious collaborative element would be my stint with the television world. I was on Jerry Springer a lot time ago. It was a shit show, literally and figuratively. I lied to get on it, twice, and one of those times it aired. That thing has stuck with me for quite some time. Still gets brought up most days on tour and in a lot of interviews that I do. I had no idea what I was doing, it just seemed like something I should probably try out. Sort of like singing with an EDM artist in front of thousands and thousands of people each night and having no idea what I was supposed to actually be doing. Anyhow, the Springer thing aired at an interesting time and even though it wasn’t a musical endeavor, it was in part, submerged in the punk community that I come from. Referencing that earlier point, where I tend to dive into opportunities that are presented to me, this bullshit landed me as a character in Asia Argento’s film, Incompresa.

The music supervisor to the film showed Asia my Springer performance and that was it. I got the job. It was when I filmed any scenes that it all came together and showed me that there was actual musicality to acting. I learned how the movement of the characters and the dialogue was to a tempo. There was a pace in which I was to act and speak, which I was never aware of. Granted, there was no BPM or pace to pranking Jerry Springer and co, but this was why I should be open to opportunities that are presented to me. And with that being said, Asia had Luke Henshaw, Gabe Serbian, and myself score part of the film, which was a huge honor and one more thing that I got to wrap my head around, in relation to music and art.

I’d like to steer away from the slightly negative stuff I might have mentioned, and just go full on positive. I mean, it’s almost 2019, and well, there is enough negative shit in this world right now. It was a couple years ago, at a Head Wound City show where I met two of the raddest dudes, who are from the band, The Manx. Myke Chilian, from the band and I somehow got on the topic of cartoons and stuff, which seems pretty obvious, and well, he asked me to be a voice on a show he worked on called Uncle Grandpa. I was shocked and jumped on that opportunity instantly.

Now, just to be clear here, this was basically a dream come true. It was so easy, so fun, and seemed totally natural for me to be a healthy-free-sample-snack-elf. I was a bit of a dick too, which was fitting. The episode I was on also had a variety of really cool musical collaborators as well. And even thought it was only one episode on a cartoon, I was and still am secretly hoping I can land a gig as a voice for a cartoon character at some point again. Nonetheless, I got to collaborate with The Manx on one of their tracks, which was a bit like a cartoon in itself. It was challenging and came out weird and rad as it should have, given the band’s collective resume.

The way Dead Cross came about was a bit odd. I had recently turned 40, and was sick of working at this dance club for almost a decade as a bar back cleaning up twenty-one year old’s vomit as a nightly ritual. So I quit and started to figure out ways to hustle. One of the things that the universe presented to me at that time was when Ross Robinson, who I had previously worked with on the last Head Wound City LP, called me up and asked me to come up and play on a demo that he was working on for a young woman, who was sixteen at the time, and play bass. Ross said Dave Lombardo was playing drums, which was the biggest selling point of the proposition. He also asked if Mike Crain from Retox would play guitar. So the people involved were all amazing and I was really psyched to be part of a cool project, even though the tracks we did never were released.

But working with Ross at his studio in Venice Beach was always amazing. I loved hanging out with his pup Carl and of course, I was taking Gee Gee, my pup, up there with me since she had surgery and lost her hearing. Anyhow, this lead to Dave and Mike coming up with an idea to put a band together and play three specific shows that were already booked for one of Dave’s other projects that was not able to perform. I signed up, we got Gabe Serbian on vocals, and we went full force, not really ever knowing what we were doing as a band. The power behind it was our friendship and the push to work on a project together, which mutated into what is now Dead Cross.

And to round this whole thing out, let’s just throw out the fact that I was so psyched to work with Kool Keith on the opening track to the Planet B album, “Crustfund”. The dude is insane in the coolest way and to have him and I work on a song together was such an awesome thing. This has since lead to Planet B doing a remix for an upcoming track of his, where I got to lay down some vocals, and sing shit that I never thought I would say in a song. This is something I wish I could talk more about, but it will have to wait a little longer. Let’s just say that linking Keith and Dead Cross and throwing Three One G into the mix is all just too much rad stuff in one blob of work.

The universe is a weird ass place and you can ignore and pass on opportunities, or be open to some of it and look for ways to create new stuff. Sure, it might suck. It might rule. But either way, if you try, you will learn something. All that garbage we produce should push us in a better direction. I guess it’s just recognizing if things are good or bad. Good thing it's art, and subjective.


Planet B's self-titled debut album is out now via Ipecac Recordings.

Tagged: dead cross, justin pearson, planet b, swing kids, the locust