From captaining Three One G Records to further illuminating the underbelly of the underground with his projects The Locust and Deaf Club, Justin Pearson is wickedly peerless. Scrounging around in the seediest nether regions of noise rock, grindcore, and thrash, the vocalist/bassist counts Dead Cross bandmate Mike Patton, Kool Keith, and two-thirds of Yeah Yeah Yeahs among his many colorful collaborators.
Now Pearson brings back into the fore Planet B, perhaps his most boundless project to date, with a second heaping helping of their turntable-infused, cult-horror-movie-score-worshiping, hardcore-punk-saturated soup. Rounded out by Sonido de la Frontera’s Luke Henshaw, Retox bandmate Kevin Avery, and Deaf Club partner Scott Osment, the band returns after more than five years with their second full-length, Fiction Prediction.
This time around, Planet B hit up former LCD Soundsystem touring member David Scott Stone and revered hip-hop DJ D-Styles to contribute to the band’s kerosene-drenched, frayed-edged patchwork of 11 songs (plus a bonus track where applicable). The record also features sorely missed Locust drummer Gabe Serbian and Mamaleek member Eric Alan Livingston, who passed away in 2022 and 2023, respectively.
That’s a lot of name-dropping to introduce one album, so for a closer examination of Fiction Prediction, we snagged some insights from Pearson in the form of a track-by-track breakdown.
1. “Dick on the Dance Floor”
This may have been the first track we wrote for the album. It was a while ago, and the world was a much different place—still extremely mean, rude, and uncertain. The opening lyrics were stemming from the modern urge to rush everything, share everything, and kinda fart out mediocre stuff. And that mediocre stuff blurs, buries, and complicates real issues. Nonetheless, the track took on its own life and the lyrics, which I often tend to circle around metaphorical themes in the words I write, went for a much larger issue. The lyrics are about the corporate and capitalist negligence of Big Pharma’s consequences on humanity, and specifically the impact of people of color as well as poor people. The lyrics touch on bullshit metaphors like Disney characters, and dumb terms like “LOL,” but with a nod that I see those people who are affected by shit that Pfizer does, and a “fuck you” to those who lack humanity and profit from human suffering. You know, the dick on the dance floor.
2. “Clogged Sync”
I’d like to first acknowledge that this track has Eric Livingston, who has since passed away, playing sax on it. Eric was one of the rarest human beings on this planet. I worked with Eric briefly in a previous project, All Leather, and he was on a Satanic Planet song as well. He’s also made some of the best and most fucked-up videos for stuff I’ve done—his “Disease Control” video for Planet B was by far the biggest mindfuck for the musical world. But as far as this track is concerned, the lyrical concept is submerged in the realm of our echo chambers, and how they’re often clogged. The question I struggle with: Are assholes at fault for being assholes, or can we blame their upbringing or environment? The fact that human nature is lacking a plunger is pretty frightening if you think about the ongoing clog. I hope whenever Eric went, shit has been plunged.
3. “The Baader Review”
The starting point of this track wasn’t intended for two vocalists. However, early on, the idea of having Crow Jane taking part came into the picture. I think her vocals—and certainly her musicianship and performances with her other bodies of work—are obviously located on the top tier of art. Her and I had discussed working together on various projects, so it was great to finally have something come to fruition.
The lyrics are rooted in the basic idea of the underdog—but not like the typical concept, and certainly not from the place of “Look at me, I’m the underdog” with subtle or not-subtle notes of pity. As most of the lyrics I write, they’re more in line with a general “fuck you” to something. Here, a kind of “fuck you” to the idea of being born into this world and existing without help, without luxuries, and with obstacles created by class, to social injustices, to moral stipulations, and so on. And just to be clear, all of those obstacles and many others all have intersections with one another. The track is a shoutout to those who still shine, and still survive, even when looked at as a “criminal.” The title of the track is also a bit loaded, as I’m very much used to bad reviews, but “The Baader Review” is a nod to the Baader Meinhof phenomenon and very much a nod to the Red Army Faction—who adopted the term “Baader Meinhof” as their name—a terrorist organization who fought against fascism, once again circling back to the various oppressive inequalities I mentioned previously.
4. “The Bouquet”
I suppose this is where the theme(s) of this album start to set in and make themselves apparent. One thing to note: A lot of this album was written and recorded during the pandemic’s full lockdown. So the state of human nature and the lack of humanity really were apparent to a lot of us. The basic gist is the system in place, specifically here in Amerika, and the massively complicated topic of how there is a lack of humanity caused by dividing people and breaking down the ability for actual change. We are generally taught to hate downward. Seeing people with very little or nothing hate others who also have very little or nothing is mind blowing when there’s rampant support of those who are oppressing everyone. It ultimately all leads to capitalism and the destruction of the planet, ecosystems, and making the future more and more grim for those who are here, and certainly for following generations.
Adding D-Styles to the track changed the game in a big way. Not only is he one of the best turntablists, but his contribution to the song, by adding a sample mentioning voodoo, really brought things full circle for me. I grew up obsessed with scratching in hip-hop, and to have someone from the iconic Invisibl Skratch Pickle on our track is such an honor. I’m not sure if he got the depth of what the vocals were about, but the sample and cuts he chose were shocking, in a cool way. I had been really getting into the ideas and roots of voodoo, and mostly the sounds and music associated with it. Some of those elements even showed up on other stuff I’ve been part of, such as “Satanic Planet” by Satanic Planet and “New Voodoo” by Deaf Club. Without an oppressive police force, or ass-backwards laws, we have to use other tools to change the world and make things just. Is voodoo an option, or even an actual tool? I honestly don’t think it is, but the idea and culture surrounding it is interesting nonetheless.
5. “Terrible Purpose”
Here’s to the existential crisis of the pandemic era—but also just in general. As with most of the tracks on the album, it all ties into the much larger picture of the arrogant assholism of humanity—or lack thereof—this time addressed by Ric Scales and myself. Let’s watch us fight among each other and waste all our time, energy, and resources, because we’re all on the way to death. I wish whoever’s trying to avoid it luck.
6. “Horror Movie Called Civilization”
The concept of not taking responsibility haunts all of us—and I’m certainly not excusing myself, I pull that shit on myself all the time. Living in a horror movie is pretty ironic though, considering we’re in the year 2024. We saw it coming, as the psychopathic murderer had been running toward us through the filthy depleted forest, and we could’ve jumped out of the way but chose not to. Just blame your astrological sign and call it a day. My sign is a stop sign. What’s yours?
7. “Filthy Suitcase”
This track dates back to a time when things were obviously a bit more grim than most other times in comparison. Conceptually speaking, we all know of the fuckhead(s) who in recent years changed the trajectory of the US, even more than the fuckheads before. So the effects of injecting garbage into civilized (and uncivilized) society at insanely high rates has severe and long-lasting consequences. Needless to say, if you were paying the slightest attention, the outcome was not all that shocking, which is unfortunate to acknowledge.
8. “Goals Gone Wild”
Finding the starting point of writing lyrics to a song can be hit or miss. However when one entertains a phrase like “the Koch sucker dies of comfort” as the first line, you know where things will be heading. Now wrap your head around the Koch industry’s hundreds of billion dollar yearly revenue and the mindset of butthole libertarians fucking over massive amounts of less fortunate people who’ll never have a chance due to not being born into a dynasty. Here’s where things get odd for me. I don’t rip off lyrics like some rich jerk in a failed hardcore band. But I certainly will ironically reference some garbage rock band’s mega hit and jack up a chorus for my own personal amusement. Shout it or suck it, the choice is not yours unless you have a fuck load of money and excess power.
9. “Rack More Brains”
I’ll get this out of the way: Kent Osborne is fuckin’ badass. I first saw him live when he played Deaf Club’s LP release party, and I was completely captivated. And I don’t like a lot of stuff. When we talked about working on a track, I had an idea to record both vocal parts, his and mine, as structure, or reference. Kent just followed up with his own stuff, raw, precise, and extremely punctual. Luke came up with a pretty insane track, and well. I wanted to deliver on my end, since Kent was joining forces, and, well, everyone delivered. Do yourself, and me, a favor and wrap your brains around the song being in 4/4. Then toss in anxiety and tension, and the fact that the curators or war, all war, are neanderthals. Do we need more?
10. “Unreal Estate”
I got the initial idea of this song from my friend Captain, who seems to lose his mind almost daily. He and I have makeshift telepathy, and we stare into each other’s eyes daily. I feel that he has answers to the universe which most humans will never get access to. People on this planet are so arrogant as a species.
Dave Scott Stone is featured on this song, and I absolutely love the dude. He was a fifth member of The Locust for a short tour back in the day, so it was great to work on music with him once again. Luke and I had him on an episode of our podcast, Cult and Culture, when we were starting to work on this album, so Luke just recorded Dave jamming on all his amazing modular synth gear at the studio, which is embedded in the song, rounding out the track to become something special. I love Dave’s energy, just like Captain’s. But Dave is way more chill and rational among the two.
11. “Let Me Explain This Again”
When we first started on this song, it was completely different-sounding. Like, vastly different in every way. I’d run into Josie Cotton years ago at an All Leather show, and then more recently when Deaf Club played with Josie’s band at a John Waters Easter event. I’ve been a fan of her work since 1981, when I first heard “Johny Are You Queer?” And then seeing her with a band in the film Valley Girl was the jam. Side note, that was easily Nicolas Cage’s best work ’til Mandy. Anyhow, Josie’s band looked so cool, sort of like Bow Wow Wow or Sigue Sigue Sputnik, who I was also starting to obsess over back then. It seemed like the universe was saying something, and even though I don’t always understand what it’s saying, I just took the opportunity to see if Josie would want to collaborate on something—and she was in. I think she felt like it was a bit out of her wheelhouse, stylistically, but I knew she’d kill it.
Before we started working on the track, I’d seen her perform and make a comment about a string of songs in her live set that were lyrically negative (I think that was how she put it) and I really gravitated to that comment in relation to the pop sensibility and overall vibe she has, which is not negative at all. Maybe just badass, which can seem cooler than other average pop singers. Nonetheless, I threw a pretty lyrically negative track at her, and surprisingly to me she agreed to it. The lyrics—though, as one would say, read negative—are from a place of love. You know, the opposite of love is not hate, it’s apathy. So I don’t read the lyrics as negative but as a push to a better world by at least addressing where things are at for a lot of us on this planet. It’s certainly nasty to read and hear stuff like “burn all cash,” “animal still fucking,” or “all dick’s misbehave.” But the track is meant as a mirror for this world to look at itself in, and possibly a chance to reflect.
So Luke flipped the track completely, dumped the music, took the vocal stems and placed them over a somber piece where he managed to work in some of Gabe Serbian’s drum stems as well as whale songs. This will most likely be the last track that I will be on with Gabe, which leaves a gigantic empty space in my heart. So to have something come together with Jose, Luke, and Gabe, means so much to me. It seems like the best way to end the album, and Josie asking the title question—“Now do I need to explain this again?”—closes the album nicely.
Bonus Track: “The Bad Review (feat. Crow Jane)”
Aww, the bonus track. This is a pretty rare thing on my end. “The Baader Review” was done, and I loved it. I just mentioned to Luke that I wanted to do a song with a beatboxer. The next day, this was created. It’s bizarre, but works nicely when stripped of the chorus and transitions, just leaving the versus as the meat of the song. We loved it, but weren’t sure how to include it on the album, so it’s a digital bonus track for the weird musical world that we already navigate in.