A big problem now is you see a lot of bands coming up that are influenced by bands less than 10 years old, which is why a lot of scenes sound rigidly the same. You two have been in service to the underground for decades, but it’s not like you’re telling young people, “Sorry, kids, it’s all been done before. Good luck, you suck.” People in your position get jaded by virtue of the fact that they did so much.
WEINMAN: That’s a good way to put it. I don’t know how you feel about it, Justin, but I do feel like I have to be careful. I don’t want to be some jaded fuck, you know? At the end of the day, it’s just about not being egotistical about it. I certainly don’t think I’m the best at anything. But at the same time, I think the fact that we’re somehow still here is what I’m proud of most. That’s what I love about Justin: He stays in there and stays relevant. That’s why I feel like bands like us and Converge need to still exist: We are still relevant, still pushing things, still have a good fanbase, yet we have something to show people. And because we come from a time before YouTube, Myspace and Facebook, before you could watch someone play a show in every country in the world in, like, three seconds without actually having to go to the show and be put into the fire. And the time we come from was not only a time when bands were influenced by the scene, but they were also influenced by their geographic location, socioeconomic situation, the art, culture, politics of where they were from. But that stuff doesn’t exist anymore, because everything’s homogenized and the goal of today’s social experience is for everyone to experience everything at the same time in the same, exact way. Because that’s how you get an IPO.
PEARSON: You totally just nailed it, 100 percent.
The beaten-to-death phrase at South By Southwest this year was “the future of music.” It’s going to be this and it’s going to be distributed like that and it’s going to be consumed by people with these devices. John Rubeli the president of Chop Shop Music, used to work in A&R at a major record label and cut his teeth curating Lollapalooza’s auxiliary stages in the early ’90s. During SXSW, he wrote on his Facebook, “The future of music is music. Period.” Is that an optimistic statement or a pessimist typing?
PEARSON: I would say it’s an optimistic statement, and it obviously isn’t jaded. My problem is everyone’s always trying to evaluate everything and figure out the next step and do all these things. Like honestly, who cares—why don’t we just let it happen? Everyone’s always asking, “What do you think about the future of music or illegal downloading?” I don’t want to think about it, man. I just want to make some music, try to fucking not die and then see what happens. As long as I like what I’m doing, fuck everything else. It’s cool that people respond positively and negatively to what I do, and I’m appreciative of that. But as long as I am happy with what I’m doing, then that’s all that matters—and I would hope that for every artist. If someone has that same outlook, that means he or she has soul, integrity and all these other elements that are really needed for true art. It’s boring rhetoric for journalists, like, “Figure this new thing out!” There’s not going to be a new thing. If anything, if you keep doing it, by the law of the universe, some other entity is going to come out of nowhere and blindside everyone. Everyone for a minute thought Myspace was the be-all, end-all for music, and now Justin Timberlake couldn’t even say that. No one can, so who cares? Let’s discuss more things. I think it’s fucked up that Lady Gaga played South by Southwest: Why isn’t anyone talking about that?
WEINMAN: What does it mean when some band that broke up 10 years ago because nobody cared can come back and make a bunch of money playing Coachella? Does that mean there’s nothing fucking exciting happening?
That is a valid point, but I think a problem with a lot of that is there is that aspect of “the legend.” Everyone remembers that one storied thing they didn’t get to experience, and that’s why reunions are so big. But as a music fan, I would rather hang out with some 18 year-old kid who just got a reissue of the first Public Image album than I would with some 46-year-old dude who’s excited about Soundgarden tickets. There are still relevant things young listeners and would-be musicians could take from that.
PEARSON: If I am jaded, it doesn’t have anything to do with age. It has something to do with industry and weird conglomerates trying to steer things. I am all about the young people: I met this little girl from Tijuana named Zoey. She is probably eight or nine years old, and she came to the Locust show a couple months ago and wanted to meet me so bad. She drew me a picture with crayons, and she legitimately likes the Locust. She got into the Locust through the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and that’s mindblowing. That’s our future; that’s who I would want to hang out with.
WEINMAN: Like we said, there’s this new underground of bands, and one of the reasons we have Trash Talk on the tour is because they’re these young dudes who have the same kind of ethics and things we had coming up. They’re not doing it for money: They truly love the scene. They truly love hanging out with their friends and doing something, pushing the limits, pushing the boundaries. To be honest with you, I’m curious to see what I learn from those guys out there.
If neither of you could play music anymore, what would you do?
WEINMAN: Well, what is music? I have made fart concertos that would make you cry, my friend.
PEARSON: On that last Scott Walker album, he farts in one of the songs. It’s fantastic. It is the earliest form of percussion known to man.
WEINMAN: I was hoping you had an answer to that, Justin, so I could think, because I might kill myself. I mean how can you not make music? There are people out there who are quadriplegic who are writing concertos with their eyes using technology. There are people who are deaf playing percussion, because they can feel the vibrations. I mean, it’d be very hard to not be able to play music and to be in a state worth living.
PEARSON: That’s such a weird question, because until you’re really presented with it, you don’t really know. What would you do? Well, fuck, I don’t know. That’s going to totally alter my entire existence.
I figure you two would still have the desire to focus on the things that are important to you.
WEINMAN: Well, if you’re not doing something fulfilling, then there’s no point in living. It’s funny: There’s this misconception that there’s this thing called “a passionate person,” which is ridiculous. There’s no such thing as a passionate person. It’s like, those people that go on job interviews and, when asked why they should be hired, they respond, “because I’m a very passionate person.” No, you’re not. You have no idea if you’re fucking passionate. You’re passionate about things that make you passionate, so if you’re not doing something fulfilling that you care about, then you’re not passionate about it. I just want to make sure there’s passion in everything I do in my life. I want to be passionate about relationships, my music, everything. So I’ve tried to live a life where I’ve never had to make that false statement to some guy in a job interview. At the end of the day, it’s a matter of finding something you’re passionate about and doing it.
PEARSON: Good answer. Alt
The Dillinger Escape Plan and Retox hit the road with Trash Talk and Shining beginning April 3 in New Jersey. Tour dates can be found on Dillinger's tour page.