Dead Cross’ Justin Pearson: New Album ‘II’ is a ‘Product of the World We Live In’


Dead Cross

Dead Cross – Story by Anne Erickson, photo credit Becky DiGiglio

Justin Pearson of California’s Dead Cross talks about the band’s new album, “II”

Hardcore punk supergroup Dead Cross is coming up on the release of their latest opus, “II,” on Oct. 28 via Ipecac Recordings. The band brings together Mike Patton, Dave Lombardo, Justin Pearson and Michael Crain.

While the album’s message is left to the listener to decipher, Pearson tells Audio Ink Radio that the album is a “product of the world that we all live in.”

“You can take that however you want,” he adds. “I think there are things like tension and absurdity and sadness and anger and frustration right now, and all of those things translate into the music. It’s a punk or hardcore record, and I think it is a shift from your typical nihilistic punk rock. It’s definitely the opposite of that.”

As for the specific meaning the songs on “II,” Pearson says, “I think with any good lyrist, you write something and the listener can interpret it for themselves. I think that’s how it should be. It’s like going to a museum and looking at the art hanging on the wall. You don’t have the artists there to explain it to you. You just interpret it as you want.”

Patton has quite a pedigree of musical projects, including work in Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, Tomahawk and many other projects. Pearson has known Patton for a long time. He says the experience of working with him in a band has been fantastic.

“It’s been rad and awesome. He’s very casual about the writing process and doesn’t seem to have an ego, which you would expect form someone with his status,” Pearson says. “It’s been very comfortable working with him, and I think that’s why he has such a wide body of work, because he’s intense and creative and sincere.”

“II” came at a difficult time for Crain, who was dealing with a cancer diagnosis during the recording process. The band had most of the album written when Crain got his diagnosis, and they left it up to him to decide where they should go from there.

“Crain pushed for the album to be recorded,” he said. “I think he was scared and felt this immense sense of urgency to get the record done. I’m pretty sure he didn’t know how to fully digest a diagnosis like that and decided to just record the album. That was his wish, and we all kind of felt like if that’s what he wanted to do, we should do it.”

Right now, Dead Cross have no upcoming tour plans. But Pearson hopes that changes. In the meantime, he keeps busy in not only musical projects but also running his own independent record label, 31G Records. He started it back in the 1990s and has been able to help it evolve as the music industry has changed wildly. He also hosts a podcast called “Cult and Culture.”

“A lot of labels similar to 31G Records end up dropping off because of these huge shifts in the way things work,” he says. “Punks are kind of like cockroaches: We can live in fifth and adjust to nuclear war, so I used those punk ethics to tried to navigate the music industry, which at times is pretty cruel. For me, it wasn’t about starting a business to make money. It was about starting a record label to document people’s art and document a world that exists that I felt could use some attention.”

Anne Erickson
Posted by Anne Erickson | Features, Interviews, Music, Rock