Justin Symbol Negativity Makes Him King


Electronic rocker and self-proclaimed "King of Negativity" Justin Symbol whose debut album "V Ω I D H E A D" made quite the commotion, since his appearance in the alternative club scene. Has gained himself and his band mates the attention worth seeking. As such, their controversial subject matter of their music, videos, and live performances is quite something else. They have created such a unique sound that combines such unique genres of alternative rock, EDM, and industrial metal that it all fits so well, it's the talk of the town! Justin Symbol himself, took some time while out on the road, to discuss his band's beginnings, middles, and ends? Well ends in a sense of what is happening now that will lead to future heights, sounds, and embrace them as a whole, like never before.


1. Please tell us about the history of your band and its members.

Justin: This band began as just me performing alone with a drum machine. I was in another band at the time, and unhappy with the lack of momentum. I felt stifled artistically, and I was bottoming out on alcohol and substance abuse. I needed to reinvent myself and believe in myself again. That's why the project is called Justin Symbol. It really was me alone for those first shows, kind of building everything from scratch. Shortly after, I hooked up with Baba Yaga, whom I had been working with musically on and off for nearly ten years. He was instrumental in the creation of the debut Justin Symbol album ''V Ω I D H E A D'. Baba and I did a lot of shows as an electronic Industrial duo, but then the band morphed into more of a rock outfit with the addition of guitarist Matt Minion, bassist Kevin Vonesper, and drummer Will Evil.

That lineup lasted for about a year, then Matt and I parted ways due to artistic differences. The current touring lineup features bassist Fox and guitarist Soda, both from the NYC band Nox Cult, and Will Evil on drums. It's a lineup specifically for the Punishment Tour. Baba Yaga is still in the picture, but could not join us on this tour. I believe he will be involved in the next album. Was that confusing enough? That's actually the short version! There were more people involved along the way!

2. You share the same stage name as the band, were you already performing as a solo artist prior to the formation of Justin Symbol and why is the band named after you?

Justin: See answer to question 1.

3. Where is the band based out of and what is your music scene like there? Are there any local bands you could recommend?

Justin: We are based out of NYC. I can recommend Nox Cult, whom we currently share two members with, and another band we're friends with is Candy Brain! We were happy they opened for us on two separate dates of the Punishment tour. We also like The Amatory Murder, Crystal Noir & The Obscurity, SYKA and Vonesper.

4. How do you describe your music to people?

Justin: Alternative, Digital Rock, Industrial Rock, Electronic...we've been called Shock Rock and I actually don't mind that term but I believe it refers more to theatrics and breaking cultural taboos than any specific sound.

5. You have not one but two albums out "V Ω I D H E A D" and "'F U C K H E A D" the remixed album, why release the two and what was the purpose in releasing an entire album of remixes?

Justin: 'F U C K H E A D' was a chance for me to do something I'd always wanted, which is to have other artists I love and respect reinterpreting my songs. It was really a pleasure to put together and it enabled me to work with many artists whom I admire, and to hear their take on the songs, spinning them in entirely new directions. It also gave me a chance to do two completely new songs, "Scarecrow" produced by FLO and "Kingdom of Fear" with Verena May produced by Jabbath Roa of EVA & Her Virgins. Those both started as me trying to do remixes but then ended up spinning into new directions, and I love the result! 'F U C K H E A D' is really an in-between kind of album, between eras of the band so to speak, and it captures where I was at when I made it.Chaotic and all over the place...frantic and with infinite possibilities.

6. Aside from the album releases you released 5 videos for various singles why go with 5 and will there be more to follow?

Justin: In addition to doing music, I am also a video editor and a visual artist, so I knew with the Justin Symbol project I wanted to have a strong visual element from the beginning.The music videos that accompanied the release of 'V Ω I D H E A D' were done in this burst of creativity that happened between myself and Director Dee Wassell. We started with "Digital Penetration" and we had such a blast out in the woods at night, with coyotes howling and all these TVs everywhere. It was just surreal!  After that we had breakfast after not sleeping all night and we were so excited and said "Let's do more!" So we did "Control" next, which was much more ambitious. It was filmed at an abandoned mental institution with a whole cast of friends. And that was just beautiful and so much fun! So we kept going!

We did "Killing an Arab" literally the next day after "Control" on my roof in Bushwick, Brooklyn. It took us forever to get that damned beheading right and I got a wicked sunburn with corn syrup everywhere from the fake blood! Then we ended with "Voidhead". I was happy my cousin, alt. model Cat Ropo could be involved in that because I'd seen her again for the first time in forever at a family reunion and I said "my God you are gorgeous and amazing! We have to work together!" and she was so cool and into so many of the same things artistically so it was just a magical collaboration. The last video was "Purgatory", and that was done with a different team entirely...led by Director Jeff Turick whom I'd done another video called "PCP" with a year or two prior. That was very different, more of a bigger budget, pro kind of thing, and more strict! And once again I found myself crawling through dark tunnels into abandoned insane asylums...and churches! It was such an intense time doing these videos, it was really magical and I am so lucky to have worked with everyone involved!  As for more videos? Yes, absolutely. Fans can expect the visual art quality that I am known for to be taken to the next level with the videos for our next album, 'G Ω D H E A D'!!

7. Why do you want to record and release your own music? (Be very honest.)

Justin: It's not so much a want as a need. I am consumed on a constant basis with my art. Ask my close friends and family, or anyone I've ever dated!  I was born to do what I am doing now. I firmly believe that my artistic vision will reach millions of people before this is all over.

8. Who is your fan/customer?

Justin: We've gotten so much love on this tour...and it just keeps growing! I think our fans, whom we affectionately call "fuckheads", are usually people who are young, beautiful, open-minded, artistically vibrant and creative people, and sometimes a little crazy!

9. What image do you think your music conveys? ( Do not avoid the image issue!)

Justin: I think my music conveys many images and colors. So many bands in similar genres are all wearnig black and their music is very one-dimensional. I also like to say and do things that others are afraid to say and do, or to admit they even want to say and do. The attention whore aspect of my personality...the compulsive need to be outrageous...it creates an air of theatricality and drama that surrounds everything this band does.

10. What are your immediate music career goals?

Justin: Completing the Punishment Tour successfully, kicking ass every single show, and gaining new fans and friends as we go!

11. What are your long-term career goals?

Justin: Like Rob Zombie, I may cross into film at some point, but I will never leave music entirely. I know I have a story to tell and it's going to be BIG. I've also begun writing an autobiography called 'Nothing's Shocking', to tell my story.

12. How would you define the word “success”?

Justin: It used to be about achievements, but increasingly it's become more about being happy and in harmony with the Universe, and then the achievements and creation manifests naturally.

13. Are you looking for an independent label deal or a major label deal? (Why?)

Justin: I think a label like Metropolis would be a good fit right now vs. a Major which would likely just censor me rather than helping me grow.

14. What live performance experience have you had? (Any industry showcases?)

Justin: The Punishment Tour is our first national tour but prior to this we did a mini tour called the Tri-State Whore Tour last winter.

15. How do you rate your live performance ability? (Be very critical. No cliches)

Justin: I think I am really developing a strong command of the stage and a sense of identity as a performer, and a strong and unique singing voice, which improves nightly due to the rigors and demands of touring and playing night after night, and I am so grateful! The band as a whole is also gelling wonderfully and we have found our stride and chemistry musically and as performers.

16. Speaking of performance, you are on The Punishment Tour, what could one expect from a Justin Symbol show?

Justin: A powerful, theatric, energetic live performance that will take you out of your own head and into mine for 30 minutes! Beware of what you might find in there!

17. When the show ends every night and the band walks off the stage; what happens does the band head backstage or straight to the tour bus/van, dressing room, bathroom, etc.

Justin: I normally come right offstage to the merch booth to meet people and the other guys clear the stage, then we all try to hang around the venue all night. We are hear to meet people, form real connections with fans, and also to support our fellow Punishment Tour bands while they perform. Rarely will you find us hiding in the dressing room or van!

18. Who is the last one to get on the tour bus/van?

Justin: Definitely me (Justin) because it takes me an hour to get out of my stage costume and gather all my props and other stuff together!

19. Who has the worst tour hygiene?

Justin: I'd say our bassist Fox because he wears the same Pentagram shirt every day.

20. Who has the worst dress sense?

Justin: It depends how you define good or bad. I think my dress sense is wonderful but some people have said that the assless leather chaps, red evil clown boots and sequin glitter pants with huge safety pins over the crotch are a bit over the top...

21. Do you remember the first show your band played?

Justin: Yes I was alone with a drum machine, wearing a torn dress and fishnet stockings, screaming incoherently about Michelle Obama's vagina while drunk/high on whiskey and coke. Not a good look. In fact the drummer from William Control, Ben Tourkantonis, was there, but somehow he forgave me!

22. What was the first concert you attended as a fan?

Justin: Probably Skinny Puppy on their Greater Wrong of the Right Tour.

23. Tell me about your spooky dance, how can one learn this dance?

Justin: Ha! You must be in a graveyard. Just go there and stand on people's graves disrespectfully and awkwardly while their relatives give you disapproving looks...let yourself feel the vibes of all the ghosts and boom! You'll find yourself doing the spooky dance!

24. Once the tour in the USA is over what do you have planned afterwards?

Justin: We'll start work on the next record, G Ω D H E A D, and also do our own touring and weekend runs around the East Coast until we jump on another national tour next Spring!

25. Where can we listen to your band and where can we buy your stuff?

Justin: In the next 6 days, please support our Indiegogo Tour Fundraiser: http://igg.me/at/justinsymboltour/x/10621509.

You can get awesome merch packages in exchange for helping the band with donations that go towards gas, van repairs, hotels etc.!

After that, the best place for all things Justin Symbol is: www.justinsymbol.com.

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