Justin Symbol: Anti-Fashion

“We love touring. The transition to and from tour life is the hard part.”

New York–based singer-songwriter Justin Symbol is a new face on the industrial pop-rock scene. With his debut album Voidhead, Symbol came out blazing, delivering a 10-track opus of pop-kissed industrial rock. The album comes at listeners from many musical sensibilities and styles: The melodies are haunting, the lyrics are brutal, and the delivery is powerful. First “Purgatory,” as well as two other tracks on the album, feature the writing and performing talents of one Daisy Berkowitz, formerly of Marilyn Manson’s band. In other words, this album is no joke; Justin Symbol is the real deal.

Now on his first headlining tour, dubbed the “Glitter, Guts & Glamour Tour,” he sports a backing band known as the God Bombs. With shows in cities he has never before played, this is the kind of tour that really tests an artist’s endurance and the power of his dreams.

I had the wonderful opportunity to see Symbol and his God Bombs in St. Louis earlier this month, and found the man to be humble, hardworking, and fan oriented. Because he was busy with fans that night, we met on Facebook for the interview. Here’s what the up-and-coming artist had to say.

How is the tour going?

The tour was amazing! We are blessed to know so many cool and supportive people across the country. Also, seeing stuff like the Grand Canyon, Redwood National Forest, Mount Rushmore, etc. It really made me regain respect and appreciation for this beautiful country we live in.

Congrats on the “Godhead” video. When do we see the release of the album with the same name?

Thank you! The full album will drop in the fall, later this year. Before then, we will see the release of more singles and videos hyping the whole album.

Your fans are listening to you. Who are you listening to at the moment?

Our playlist on this tour has been extremely varied. We’ve scoured record stores on a vintage kick, since our van only has a CD player. To name a few: The Beatles, The Doors, Black Sabbath, Bowie, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Tori Amos, NIN, Marilyn Manson, and many more. Also, a shout out to a few of the bands we played with whose albums we enjoy: SpiderHold from Arizona; Mannequin Planet from San Francisco; and Our Frankenstein from California.

If you could tour with anyone, who would it be?

If we could tour with anyone…probably Motionless in White, Manson, NIN—bands like that would be amazing and could fit nicely.

Who/what are your biggest influences?

Nirvana. We went to see [Kurt Cobain’s] home where he died in Seattle, plus the house he grew up in. Inspiring to say the least. Also Bowie, Alice Cooper, Manson, NIN, Black Sabbath also, Peaches’ live show had a big impact on me when I saw her some months ago. We’ve been listening to her music a lot, as well. We are also really inspired by visual artists. Pink Flamingos, hotter stuff like Susperia, and, of course, Holy Mountain and Lucifer Rising, which also influenced the “Godhead” video. In addition, we’ve begun to incorporate our own visual art into the stuff we’re putting out, like the “Glitter, Guts & Glamour” tour posters, which were designed by Will Evil [drummer for the God Bombs], and the upcoming artwork for the Godhead album.

Do you enjoy being on the road?

We love touring. The transition to and from tour life is the hard part.

What advice would you give new artists?

My advice to new artists is to give it your all, and expect nothing for a long time. Or, become a rapper if you want money! The music industry is in shambles, but it’s an exciting time to try something new and different. Don’t let trends or other opinions dictate what is cool to you.

Last question: Who are your top three artists of all time?

They would be Nirvana, David Bowie, and Marilyn Manson

Special thanks to Justin Symbol for taking the time to do this interview. Remember his name, folks: He just may be in your living rooms before long. | Marc Farr

About Marc Farr 244 Articles
Marc Farr is the Live Music & Assignments Editor of PLAYBACK:stl. He's so invaluable to us, we've nicknamed him Mr. Music. Reach out if you have coverage ideas! "I know it's only rock and roll...but I like it!"
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