Having seen DEEZ NUTS live twice and sharing a resemblance to their vocalist, JJ Peters, (or so I’m told), I feel like I also share a very undertone bond with them, (guess word is not the only bond… I’ll just stop…) so interviewing JJ was exciting for me from the get go. It turned out, the interview was much more interesting than what I hoped for and fun all-around for both sides, as he shared some really cool drug stories, talked about their killer new record and how he feels about straight edge. Enjoy!
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For starters, thank you for sparing a little bit of your time to answer some questions, you guys have an album coming out tomorrow (7th April) right?
Τell us a few things about it.
It’s called “Binge And Purgatory”. It is, I believe, our fifth full length album. Really excited to release it. This is the second album that we’ve used the team, Shane Frisby and Andrew Neufeld, engineering and producing and this is the second album that we’ve had with this full band line-up. Myself, Matt Rogers, Alex Sallinger, Sean Kennedy, so I feel this is the most precise, concise, deliberate and well-rounded album, cause we kinda figured out our perfect team, so yeah. I’m excited for everybody here.
Awesome! I got to listen to it once or twice. This is arguably your heaviest album to date. In a time where bands tend to get more accessible and radio friendly the more they grow, you guys did the exact opposite, went the opposite route.
*Chuckles* Yeah, yeah…
What made you do this?
I dunno… As you can tell by our earlier stuff we’ve never really gone the predictable route, at the time that everybody was doing like, “paint by numbers”, metalcore, moshcore, I left a band sounding like that to fuckin start a rapcore/hardcore/partycore whatever you wanna call it, which is like nothing anybody was doing at the time because that’s what I felt like doing. At this point and time of the bands career, we wanted to write the heaviest and the most pissed off album that we could write, so that’s exactly what we did. The cool thing about it is that, when you’ve decided right from the get-go that you won’t follow a trend and you’re gonna do, people that support your band kinda expect that from you. You’re not gonna lose any fans for being yourselves and being unpredictable. If anything you’re gonna gain them, so, it kinda works in our favor.
Yeah, it worked out great if I might say so myself.
Thank you very much!
What is the meaning behind the title, “Binge And Purgatory”?
I guess it’s just like, something that have been banging around my head for a while now. I guess I just wanted a couple of words to paint a picture that summons up what the whole album is about. The idea behind “Binge And purgatory” I guess is the light and dark of life, the emptiness of the touring, you’re 100% (prowl) all the time, and you’re surrounded by people, the emptiness that’s involved and sort of the contrast and whatnot. Binge and purgatory seemed to me to be the best way to kinda sum that up in two words. I was actually embarrassed to suggest the name to the other guys in the band because, I thought they might think it was a little bit too weird, but when I said it, straight away it kinda resonated with everyone, that’s when I knew I found the perfect title for the album.
Is there a certain lyrical theme revolving the album?
Umm not necessarily. I guess the only theme or deliberate thing would be that, it’s sort of reflective, and rather than writing about partying, this time I’d rather sit down and speak about what’s been clinging around on my mind, not have any filter on what I was saying, I guess not dumb down my vocabulary, not simplify things to make party tracks. I wanted to flex my vocabulary a little bit and wrap the most interesting lyrics I could write, but there’s no real theme or storyline behind the album.
What would you say is different in “Binge And Purgatory” compared to your older albums?
Well as I mentioned earlier this is the second album we’re using the same group of people. “Word Is Bond” is by far my favourite album we’ve put together, because I think we’d all kinda started doing bout it. We gained Shaun Kennedy on bass but, me and Alex and Matt already written that one album between us so, we were still kind finding out feet as far as writing and recording as a group. Then with “Word Is Bond” I feel like we felt much more comfortable again and the this time around we knew exactly what we wanted before we even got into the writing process and as soon as we started putting the songs together, things sorta came together exactly how we’ve imagined it, exactly how we wanted it, because we finally worked out how to work with each other and balance each other in the studio. The thing that stands out more about this album is that, we know how to attack what we’re trying to do now and, as a result, the album is much more polished and much more produced than our other albums from a sound point.
I think musically it’s a lot darker, heavier and dirtier in parts, but the actual production value is such that I think that, I can sit back and listen to it and I know I’ll enjoy it still in ten years’ time.
That’s awesome. Obviously DEEZ NUTS have their own distinct sound and personality but are their any musical influences that shaped out “Binge And Purgatory”?
Definitely! We all draw influences from a lot of strange places because we have very eclectic taste. We all like a lot of the same shit, but our day-to-day listens lie in very different areas of music so, we all kinda see eye to eye about what is good music, but on a daily basis listen to more like hip-hop, soul music and R’n’B and stuff like that and anything else, whereas Robert would probably listen to more straight up hardcore on a daily basis, K (Sean Kennedy) listens to more indie music. Alex listens to a lot of jazz so when we get to the studio we kinda bring those elements to the table. But it’s a difficult one for me… There are certain bands that come to mind when I listen to the album. Like a think there’s definite influence from NO WARNING around the “Suffer, Survive” era, there’s definitely some influence by GIVE UP THE GHOST and bands of that nature. Definite influence by bands like REFUSED and in lesser ways, bands like PANTERA. We didn’t necessarily go in wanting to sound like those bands, but then reflecting back on it on my ark, you know ,I go like “I can hear where I got that Idea from, (Chuckles) I can hear where that’s been inspired by”. Even parts and sections of songs that sound like bands like THE BRONX that I’ve been a fan of my whole life but haven’t listened to in years. But I still get parts that I go “Oh yeah that reminds me of that and that’s probably where I got the inspiration from”. I think all that stuff comes to play more than you realize.
Cool! Are there any bands that you’re into lately? Any cool bands you wanna mention?
To be honest man I listen to just (awkward laughter)… I just listen to trap music. I’ve been listening to the new FUTURE album on repeat… (still chuckling awkwardly)
And also up until now we were on tour, and prior to that we were again on tour with SUICIDE SILENCE so I couldn’t really listen to any music, it wasn’t child-friendly (laughs). So I’ve been out of the loop musically lately. I tend to listen to any bands I’m on tour with at the time, and then when I go to sleep I listen to rap music, cause it’s like the furthest from the whole distorted guitars and bass thing. My musical taste changes depending on my environment and what’s going on on that point and time (in my life). As far as new up and coming bands, I would encourage everyone to go and check out the boys in HELLIONS, but I wouldn’t necessarily say they are new and up and coming at this point cause they’ve been around a few years now. They’ve toured with us across Europe and now they have a whole calling of their own. But as far as bands go, I think people should check HELLIONS if they haven’t already.
Last time I saw you guys live you were in Thessaloniki, Greece, Sean could not perform with you guys, so you went out without a bass and KILLED it.
Hahaha, thank you!
How difficult is it for you to perform in these situations where, you’ve got a man down, you’re concerned and go like “is he okay?”, but you still have to give 100%?
It’s tough man because, if that was in any other situation in life or in most jobs, you would just not go to work, would call in sick, would go to the hospital or whatever, but the unforgiving nature of the music industry is such that, unless someone is like literally dead on the stage, no one would ever believe that you were not able to play. So you just have to kinda suck it up and play. I’ve done like, entire tours where I could barely talk, I had to get up and scream every night for what it was worth, and whether I feel like shit or not I have to go up there and give 100%. Cause otherwise everybody would talk shit and be bombed that we didn’t play. (Laughs uncontrollably)
This is the nature I was saying in this situation, you know, I would have been by Sean’s side and make sure he was ok, but otherwise the kids that were in that show would have been fuckin pissed. You suck it up, you get out there… It was tough for us cause we are a four man band, It’s not like we have two guitars and of the two was gone. When you have just guitar and bass and all of the sudden the bass is gone, all the songs that are stuffed in bass are out, or every song that has like a bass part in the middle, that’s out (laughs). So we kinda had to just fucking wing it. But the cool part in these situations is that, people can usually appreciate the fact that you’re making an effort, and they’d rather see you kinda tumble through with one member less ,than not see you at all. That’s why you make that extra effort, cause there are people that don’t give a fuck so, yeah. There’s been times where, I think it was on Ukraine or Belarus, where I wasn’t able to get in cause they cancelled my visa last minute for unknown reasons, so the rest of the band still went out and played. Our bassist player played guitar, our guitarist did vocals so we had no bass at all and a vocalist who didn’t really sing and didn’t really know all the words and kids where still fucking stoked! I watched the footage the next day and I couldn’t really be happier with how cool the crowd was with the whole situation. I’m sure they would wanna see the band as a whole, but the fact that the band made an effort and still went out without me made for a more memorable show for to some people than just a regular show anyway. As long as you make a fuckin effort I think people appreciate that.
Yeah, exactly! Everybody appreciated it in the crowd and it was a unique show. It’s once in a lifetime you get to see DEEZ NUTS kill it without a bass.
For sure, it might not have the best DEEZ NUTS show, but it’s definitely one in a million! (Laughs)
Do you remember this show by the way?
I do remember, yeah. I’ve played this venue once before, we’ve got some great memories in that venue… I’ve had some crazy after parties… (laughs)
Yeah… I know… (both laugh because they know what happened in those “after parties”). Anyway, after that show, Matt hanged out with us and mentioned how strict some countries are regarding alcohol and drug policies. What’s the most strict country you’ve been to and what is like, the exact opposite. The drug and alcohol paradise?
I think the place with like most harsh rules about drugs is Indonesia and most places in Southeast Asia. I already kinda been warned about it but you don’t really understand the extent until you go to a place. I remember the first time we were going over, the first sign you would see going off the plane, was a huge billboard facing the exit. Just has a picture of a handgun and it says, “Death Penalty For Drugs” with huge black letters underneath so…
Their policy was not hard to understand (laughs). Basically zero tolerance to anything that fell under the category of drugs, but, I later found out on that tour, because we hanged out In Bali for like, the better part of a week after being on tour there just to have a holiday and, we found out from the locals that they were doing mushrooms all the time, and I was like “Yo, what the fuck? Aren’t you guys afraid that you’ll get the death penalty?” and they said like “No, because of religious reasons weed is considered a drug punishable by death, but mushrooms, you can get just about everywhere.” You know, if you take them into your hotel, they’ll make them into a teafee for the front desk, where you can just trip balls on mushrooms in the pool all day. So that place ended up being both the things you’re talking about. We went from thinking that we would like, get shot if they found traces of weed in our backpacks to doing mushrooms for like a week straight and didn’t leave the swimming pool. And we did it with the locals without any sort of fear of getting punished, which you would get for having mushrooms anywhere else in the world. So that place were the harshest but also the most lenient with mushrooms, so I guess you can be surprised anywhere with anybody.
There are a lot of straight edge artist obviously in the hardcore scene as well as fans. How’s the band’s relationship with other straight edge artists with you guys being, you know, definitely not straight edge?
We are definitely not, but that’s never really a problem man. Good people are good people whether they fucking drink or they don’t , that’s never been like, an issue to us. I’ve always made a point of shouting out, well not so much in the later albums as I’ve done less “party songs” I’ve not really felt the need to make a point in shouting out my straight edge friends and whatnot, but in the earlier days in every song I talk about drinking I definitely made a point of talking about straight edge as well. Straight edge is important to a lot of really really important people in my life, so therefore as a direct result it’s important to me. If other people talk shit about straight edge, it offends me because I’ve got a lot of close friends. I think the guys that do it for the right reasons and the guys I’ve known for like 20+ years that have been straight edge since we were kids and still are now, they are the ones that don’t talk about it, they are the ones that don’t give me a hard time about drinking because they do it for themselves. I actually got a lot of respect for straight edge people. I wish that I could go out and be sociable and fuckin entertain the world without needing the aid of, a social lubricant like alcohol and other things but, unfortunately I’m introverted by nature and I’m actually quite shy and I kinda need that to maintain a fuckin smile on my face on a daily basis when I’ve got to entertain people and be sociable n shit. So actually have a lot of respect for the straight-edge people.
That’s awesome! After so many years of touring what would you say is your favorite band to tour with?
That’s a tough one man, not just because I’m trying to sit on the fence or whatever, but we’ve done so many tours and so many close friends that we’ve known before touring and we tour with just to hang out and vice versa. Bands that we’ve loved their music and ended up becoming good friends of ours. Now, pretty much every tour we go on we kinda manufacture it to be in a way that we have at least two or three bands that we are best friends with on tour so it’s like, almost impossible for me to say who the favorites are at this point in time. Pretty much every time I go at tour it’s with someone I’m looking forward to tour with. The last tour we just did was with SUICIDE SILENCE, a lot of people probably wouldn’t know but we’ve been very good friends with them ever since we first toured with them in Europe on Never Say Die toured with them in Europe years ago and we stayed in touch with them ever since. Touring with them is touring with some of our best friends. The tour just the week before was us, COMEBACK KID, HELLIONS, FIRST BLOOD, REALITY SLAP and GET THE SHOT and everyone but REALITY (SLAP) and GET THE SHOT, they are all like friends of ours that we’ve toured with across the world in different times and different places together. But everyone on that tour were like, super close friends and then by the end of that tour GET THE SHOT and REALITY SLAP are dudes we consider close friends now as well. I’m about to go to Canada soon with GET THE SHOT again and now, THEY are good friends that I’m looking forward to seeing, you know what I mean? So we’re kinda doing this whole thing where we’re constantly making new family members, so It’s to hard for me to narrow down to one. I just kinda consider all of the bands we tour with the favorite ones.
And final question, why are Australians so good at metal and hardcore? Do you guys have like something in the water? It’s amazing, I’ve never heard a remotely mediocre band from there.
I was just having this discussion with someone earlier and I think the reason is, and this is not to take away from Australian bands and say that they are not amazing, I’m very proud of all the bands that have come out of Australia and put us on the map, it’s a really cool thing to be a part of, but at the same time I think the reason that it appears from a distance that everything out of Australia is top quality, is because it’s such a hard place to get out of because it’s a fuckin island that no-one fucks with until they’ve kinda made it out, that you don’t see all the bands below the surface. You only see the ones that have tour the hard out of Australia to get in a position to get out of Australia, or their band has got so much drive and so much confidence in themselves that they say “Fuck it I’m not gonna wait for that, I’m just gonna buy my own plane ticked and start touring the rest of the world and make a fucking name for myself”. So you either have to have a lot of fucking raw talent or drive or a lot of fucking, whatever, but you need to have that “X” factor in order to go out of Australia. That’s why you never really see all the other bands that they don’t have that factor, you just see the ones that have to like, push so to make it out of Australia, which is not a bad thing, it’s a cool thing which it means, you know, only the grade-A material makes it out and gives Australia our good name. I think it’s a cool kinda, filtration system that we have.
True. Alright, that’s all I’ve had for today. Thanks a lot again!
No problem man, anytime! I appreciate it.
I hope the album does well, actually, I’m sure it will, it’s probably your best album in my opinion.
Thank you very much!
And I hope we see you in Thessaloniki again soon!
Definitely man, next time we come I’ll make sure Sean is good and ready to go!