Talking Shop with Three One G
This week we interview Three One G, a label that showcases some of the most relentless and cutting edge rock bands to date. We caught up with Justin Pearson, Three One G owner.
From musician to author of several books, he’s one prolific motherfucker. He gives us a taste of his world, with his ruthless yet inspiring work ethic that has no intention of slowing down anytime soon, and of course coffee...so read up fellow music lovers!
Fresh Pots: So tell us a bit about how you got started?
Justin Pearson: I started Three One G when I was 19. I was just starting to play in bands and put records out. When I was 15, I started working with Ebullition, so I had somewhat high standards of what I felt records should look like, so when I was dealing with other labels and they would change the cover art, change the label art, make shirts without asking or approving the design, and never was up front about finances, I realized that I could do as shitty of a job myself, if not better.
So I used financial aid money from community college and released two 7" records.
FP: Doesn’t get more DIY then that! Some consider you guys the west coast version of Dischord Records, do you relate to that or mirror them at all?
JP: It's sort of crazy in some respects. I think I wrote in detail about it in my book, From the Graveyard... but I would literally steal or scam everything I could in order to start the label. I was a "moral" criminal, where I would steal from places like Kinko's and office supply chain stores, in order to get things going for the label.
Of course, once things got a bit bigger, with production and all, I wasn't able to do that. And that was about twenty years ago. The world has greatly changed in so many ways, especially considering music.
But as far as the Dischord comment, I certainly took questions from that label. Even took cues from Fugazi with how the bands I was part of functioned. It was weird for me, as I had no idea what I was doing for the most part when you consider running a business, and we all seemed to really just be living in the now more than looking towards the future as far as the bands on the label and the label itself. But I was definitely influenced by Dischord, as well as Ebullition, Gravity, Vinyl Communications, Vermiform, etc.
FP: I’d say the DIY ethic is more relevant and accessible today than it ever was for bands. What advice could you give to aspiring bands, label owners etc?
JP: I'm not sure that comment is as black and white as it sounds. Part of whatever this huge thing is, that we are all involved in, is certainly seeped in DIY ethics. But for me, growing up pre-internet, DIY was also a bit more special. I would have to really search for cool stuff, underground stuff, and when you discovered it, it was really important and sort of along the lines of finding a rare species on an abandoned planet, or maybe like winning the lottery with a scratcher and getting $100 for $1. You sort of had to scour your city for ways to even get on the right track to discover cool new stuff. And for those who were creating stuff, it was a bit harder and more time and effort went into it. So there was this over all sense of appreciation on all levels... I think. At least from my perception. Where now, you can just Google everything and know all that you need to know instantly, and hear whatever you might like to find, see what it looks like, read everything about it, all instantly. Heck, you don't have to go to shows, you don't have to buy the limited rare 7", or don't really have to put any effort into it. I'm just not sure which way is better or cooler.
I try to not really take a stance on all this, because, well, there is nothing I can do about it either way. This world is the way it is. I have to laugh at the jerks who complain about losing their coal mining jobs, and this lame-ass administration who toots their own horn about bringing jobs back when we have way better, and more sustainable ways to create energy, which all bring more jobs than coal. Perhaps the way the music industry was and how it is now might be like that. If I complain about how shit is today, I'll just sound like a sorry ass dude who wants his coal job back.
With all of that being said, and I will say this knowing all too well that some or perhaps most of the stuff I am part of is probably shitty to some degree, the sea of "stuff" has become bigger and bigger, and now everyone and everything is out there. I'm not sure that is a good thing. There is such little effort or work put into getting your music or art out into the world, and it's instant. Perhaps some of the stuff is half baked. I mean, If I had the ability to just put out into the world everything I wanted to do for the last 25+ years, I would be so bummed on myself. I still put out a some pretty bad shit, but at least there was a cap on it to some degree.
FP: With all things, the internet has its good and bad sides. Certainly new bands have more opportunities now if they decide to use them. Keeping that in mind, what do you look for when signing new bands to your label?
JP: I don't really "sign" bands. It's usually just close friends, artists who've I work or worked with, or have toured with, that I end up doing stuff with. It's personal for me, so I'd prefer to know who I'm doings stuff with, and have really experienced what they do. I appreciate solicitations, but I make no money with Three One G, and as a matter of fact, I typically put in my own personal funds to run the label. So if I'm going to do that for someone, I need to really dig whoever is involved.
FP: What new and upcoming releases/projects can our listeners look forward to?
JP: The upcoming stuff I have on my end is a Planet B full length, a Dead Cross single. Retox tracked a cover of a Cramps song for a split 7" but I'm not sure I know what is going on with it exactly just yet.
FP: Needless to say, your label offers some of the most visceral, hard hitting bands out there today. Many others could and should take a page from your book because three one g doesn’t fuck around. Last question, one wonders, someone as prolific as yourself, how do you like your coffee?
JP: Awe, the most important question of them all. I hated coffee till I turned 40. Rob Moran of Unbroken, Some Girls, Narrows, etc. owns a great coffee shop here in San Diego called Heartwork. He pretty much pushed coffee on me one day when I was there for a meeting. Up till that day, I was a total tea person, and still am, but ever since then, I somehow fell in love with coffee. I think my pallet is shifting a bit in recent years.
Anyhow, I typically like my coffee as a latte using almond milk. I also love the ritual of what a coffee shop is. I think in part, it ties into being on tour, and well, that is primarily what I know. I'm a fan of nitro coffee as well. It has this sort of creamy element without adding any sort of milk to it. At the end of the day, I could always have used another hour or so to get things done, and well, caffeine certainly gets me to that spot. Now, if someone can come up with a coffee that also assists with time travel, then life would be perfect.
Thanks for having me take part in this here. You rule.