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Justin Symbol - The God Bombs

Interview with Justin Symbol from The God Bombs
by Kyle Scott at 01 May 2018, 11:13 PM

Justin Symbol has joined forces with Edrick Subervi and Jabbath Roa to form THE GOD BOMBS, touring this Spring nation-wide with Industrial metal godfathers MINISTRY and CHELSEA WOLFE. On debut EP 'Hex' (March 2018) the trio forges a bold new sound that combines elements of electronic, alternative metal, hip hop and punk. Heavy beats collide with haunting analog synths and 90s alt rock attitude to create a compelling soundtrack for the new dark age. Metal Temple writer Kyle Scott sat down with Justin Symbol after his epic set with THE GOD BOMBS at the Paramount Theatre in Huntington, NY on April 19th.

Photo Credit: Michael Anthony Alago

Alright let’s get started. How many years have you been involved with music?

I’ve been doing music for approximately ten years now.

Oh nice! Doing what? When did you first start out?

I started dabbling when I was a teenager when I was in highschool, I started dabbling using Frooty Loops, and-

Frooty Loops?

Yeah, by making beats in Frooty Loops on the computer and then someone got me a drum machine which… actually I’d bought a drum machine from my friend Brian which is the same drum machine I used on stage tonight… like the synth sounds and stuff. And from there, I just went into… and stuff in college and y’know, doing music ever since, really.

What’s the Brooklyn Industrial scene like?

The Brooklyn Industrial scene is good. I think there are a lot of interesting bands that are coming out of it. Sometimes I think it’s a little bit more divided between the more indie, hipster side and the more goth, like, y’know ‘Let’s dress up!’ and tech side of it, but there’s some good parties and stuff. One of my favorite promoters, Xris Smack who’s been… doing bands for 20 years now is here tonight, so yeah! I think New York is a good place for us to come up as a band.

Excellent! That actually segues into my next question. Have you noticed any paradigm shifts in the scene since you began? Like a change in trends, that sort of thing. I think you already said there was… a rift between the indie guys and the-

Yes, I think there’s a little bit of a rift but also, I think one of the trends I’ve noticed is that a lot of artists have left New York because of the inflated prices and moved out to Portland or L.A., Texas It’s all \[out of creatives, out and disappeared from the city], but they’re still really active.

How has your EP Hex been received so far?

The reception has been mind-blowing! I honestly… we made it – it was really spontaneous. We were on tour with MUSHROOMHEAD and the other two guys, they were in my backing band. They’ve been the last incarnation of my backing band as JUSTIN SYMBOL the solo artist, and we were on it! We were like, ‘Let’s try to make a record together!’. We weren’t really sure how it would work and it just clicked. The response has been incredible. I mean, I didn’t really see it as like the most \[successful] thing I’ve ever done but it just grabs people and everyone’s like… ‘Oh, you remind of this, or you remind me of that, but it’s like a totally new thing!’. So, it’s been… extremely positive.

Fantastic. What kind of demons have you unleashed in Hex?

Ohh, a lot! Hex was definitely, very much a purge of things, of emotions and loss. Based on just – with Hex I focus more on the external reality rather than my own internal battles… Especially performing the songs live on stage it’s really taken on a whole new meaning \[it’s all very special]. I can’t wait to make more music.

Awesome! You have some critical thoughts on society as a whole in “Socio Path”. Do you really think that social media is responsible for everyone’s sense of entitlement and rigid authority policing people constantly on the internet and stuff?

I think there’s so many factors at play with what’s going on right now. I think that on one hand, people… I think nobody can…figure out why we’re two-thousand eighteen years after the death of Christ, just still hung up on the most basic issues of sexuality, gender, race, wealth inequality, and polluting. Y’know, we’re treating the Earth like shit. It’s obviously – now it’s fighting back. And people are just \[inaudible]… but the problem is that it’s causing everyone to become really polarized in ways that I think are not really productive to their well being. I think the one percent, so to speak, has a vested interest in kinda dividing people into left and right, black or white, up or down, which is what I talk about in the song “Breed” as well. So… I think there’s a lot of things going on. People are really agitated. I think we are on the brink of some kind of world disaster, and we’re seeing many signs of it throughout the disintegration of our society. I think were crumbling, similar to the Roman Empire but obviously much quicker. I think we’ve lost our sense of community, any sense of moral obligation to a greater good and have replaced it with self-worship. Which is what I’m alluding to when I’m talking about Mark Zuckerberg because I think everyone’s sort of lost in this mirror of themselves which is projecting an idealized version of who they want to be rather than who they really are. And there’s a lot of distortion happening. So that’s a lot of my thoughts on it that I put out there on paper to give the song some \[pounce/bounce].

Do you think if personal blogs and OP Eds never existed, no one would be like they are today? Or would that level of ego manifest itself in different ways?

I don’t know. I mean the ‘what if?’ thing is kind of, to me, somewhat pointless because we are what we are because of whatever. I just think – I do think that society, y’know… what is it, the law of inertia or whatever, nothing can just stay the same. I mean, things either go up or down, and I think we are on the brink of sort of a dark age of sorts. Where people, y’know ignorance is celebrated and… it is what it is. I don’t think it’s any one thing that’s to blame, so to speak. I don’t think… ‘if we fix this, then we’ll be back on track as a society’. So, not to be too doom and gloom but I do think we are sort of on a downward curve as a species.

Is there anything that you wouldn’t do on stage?

I mean, I’ve done a lot of things on stage…

Besides the infamous doll incident…

Oh wow! That’s-that’s OG. Honestly, now I focus more on the music especially with this project THE GOD BOMBS. For me, it was sort of a return to my roots, honestly. Because I’m playing synth and the drum machine live on stage. I’m just really focusing on the music and lyrics… I’ve really kind of toned down my image and all the – like before, I was doing all kinds of antics and theatrics and nudity and stuff… I just really wanted to more personalize my focus on the music. And so, as far was what I wouldn’t do on stage. I mean, most of what I wouldn’t do is simply because I think it’s kind of  \[inaudible]to my career because I don’t wanna be banned from tours or venues. Otherwise, I’d fucking do anything!

How does GOD BOMBS set itself apart from your other projects?

I think GOD BOMBS really sets itself \[apart] because it’s more punk rock probably, than anything I’ve done. It’s more focused on outward issues like I said. It’s more society driven than ego driven. JUSTIN SYMBOL tended to be more personal. There’s a little bit of personal stuff in there \[Hex] but it’s more outward. I think it’s more… I wouldn’t say it’s more honest, I’ve always been very honest, but I think it’s less glam-y and colorful and cartoony and a little bit more based on just like rigid reality. And kind of like the ugly truth I guess as I see it. And just more like, cathartic. And also, it’s more of a collaboration, probably than anything I’ve done before. Like, these other guys really put their heart and soul into this, like, I can’t emphasize that enough. They were a huge part of the album.

What song holds the most meaning to you?

For me, ‘Socio Path’ is where it’s at in terms of like the deepness of the lyrics, and I think ‘Socio Path’ really crystallizes the entire message of the entire record in one song.

How did all you guys come together to form the band?

We were on tour with MUSHROOMHEAD as JUSTIN SYMBOL. They were the last incarnation of my backing band. And I’d just released the Fuckboi EP and we were on tour with MUSHROOMHEAD for a few days, and then that whole thing fell apart because of management, or mismanagement, I guess. And after that, we got along so well like, “Let’s just be a fucking band, or at least let’s try it!”. I don’t think any of us really expected it to click on the level that it has. Especially with the MINISTRY tour happening and all these other doors seem to just… fling themselves open like as soon as we made the change to THE GOD BOMBS. So it’s been really, almost mystical in a way, I guess.

Yeah, what was it like when everyone played?

It was amazing for me because it kinda went along with this whole thing I was trying to do. I was trying to do an ego death kind of thing. So like, the Justin Symbol thing was very much a personality thing. And I was so sick of the ‘me, me, me’ aspect of it. It was like I feel it could reinforce some of the negative things that I feel are happening hourly in our society. And I felt like I was kinda just an ear of everybody else in a way. Like, the self-obsession, all that stuff, the image stuff. So this has allowed me to really focus on my roots and just my love of music.

Nice. What was your most memorable stage experience?

I’d say the most memorable experience was in Montreal on this tour with MINISTRY. Chelsea Wolfe had had a bus breakdown. Which, unfortunately she was stranded in the ice. But what ended up happening was we got to be direct support for MINISTRY and play in front of a crowd of two thousand people that were just like, going nuts. So it was really a huge moment in my career. It’s definitely the most I’ve ever played in front of. And I didn’t feel nervous or anything, I just feel like ‘Okay, this is where I am meant to be right now’, so it was truly a blessing to be on this tour.

That’s excellent. What’s the direction you plan to go in next?

I think that we’ve really – have found success in our sound that we embrace, and I think we really wanna continue to explore it further. We plan on releasing a single this summer which will have  some covers as B sides, like “Killing an Arab” the CURE cover that we’ve been doing on this tour, and also the “Flashback” MINISTRY Cover. We plan on releasing those along with some new material to build up towards another album or EP release which will probably happen in the winter.

Fantastic! Alright, that is everything. Thanks so much, dude it’s been a huge honor!



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Edited 23 October 2018
 

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