Justin Pearson is the bassist in the hardcore punk band, The Locust, as well as several other underground punk bands, including Swing Kids and Some Girls. In addition to constantly touring to support himself, he also runs an indie record label; Three One G. Pearson has now written a memoir about his life, one that is shocking, hilarious, and sometimes inspirational. Like the songs his bands perform, which are full of short, violent bursts of energy, Pearson’s prose has a similar style. The sentences are short. His opinion is blunt. And the incidents are sometimes violent. The antics and crazy things that have happened to Pearson make up an interesting life and a story, making From the Graveyard of the Arousal Industry (Soft Skull Press, 192 pgs.)hard to put down.
Raised in a violent home, Pearson watched his parents continually abuse each other, verbally and physically, and witnessed his father openly cheat on his mother. Pearson was a small kid who was continuously picked on throughout his formative years. To escape the constant torture from his so called peers Pearson discovered the hardcore punk scene in San Diego. By this time he was in high school and had a tight knit group of friends who all dressed the same and listened to the same music. Despite constantly being called a “faggot” and getting his ass kicked, Pearson graduated from high school and began forming a succession of bands and eventually forming his own record label.
Pearson’s adult life occupies the bulk of the book. Some of his exploits are pretty outrageous, including landing on the Jerry Springer show, duping the show’s producers and audience and performing at the premiere of a John Waters movie dressed only in diapers. While there are many hard to believe stories of life on the road, this isn’t the punk version of Motley Crue’s The Dirt. As with most people, Pearson’s life is full of happiness (the loves of his life, his dog Gee Gee, the power of music), hardships (the death of one of his best friends, an unsuccessful marriage) and perseverance. After everything he’s been through, he maintains his integrity and his sense of humor throughout.
You don’t have to be a fan of Pearson’s music or know any of the hundreds of bands or artists he rattles off (Lord knows I wasn’t) throughout From the Graveyard of the Arousal Industry to appreciate this story. In fact, when the author rattles off the names of musicians and bands, it’s almost comforting that he assumes you know whom he’s talking about, as if you’re already a friend. Still, Pearson is so personable and funny, his writing so succinct and emotional, you may find yourself tracking down The Locust on the Internet and checking out at least one of their songs. While I won’t be rushing out to buy something by The Locust any time soon… or perhaps ever, I’m certainly glad I had a chance to find out about Pearson and his life.