Artist Spotlight: John "Jughead" Pierson
Name: John Jughead Pierson
Projects/Side Projects: Screeching Weasel, Even In Blackouts
Years Performing: 34
How have you been coping with the current Covid-19 crisis? I was just coming back from living in Japan, my work contract was up. By the time I got back to Chicago many of my gigs and jobs were already in the process of questioning if they were going to be able to happen. One or two of them got cancelled, and then I went ahead and made the decision to cancel the rest. And of course eventually they would have been cancelled anyway, I just saved them some time. Before the borders had closed I made the last minute decision to make it back to Japan and to quarantine myself there. I spent 14 days in self quarantine by myself in Osaka, and have now been living these last three months in an air b-n-b here in Osaka. I have tried to work online with many of the people I had to cancel gigs with. I have been pretty lucky. My creative endeavors both in music and theater have been able to adapt and continue. But of course the aspect of playing live has evaporated and that is mildly devastating. Who knows how and when that aspect of being a performer will resurface. I’m pretty sure it will never be the same, hopefully different, unique, and adventurous directions will be activated.
With so many artist now streaming live and so many small clubs that will not reopen, do you think Covid-19 has permanently changed the music world? Yes, Covid-19 has definitely changed the course of live performance. But there is a chance that humans will repeat history because we often never learn from our mistakes and our ability to look back is sometimes equivalent to that of a goldfish, so perhaps with time it will just return to the way it was. I don’t think it should, at least without us taking viruses and pandemics more seriously.
How differently do you approach the creative process with Even In Blackouts than you did with Screeching Weasel? I started out the main writer of Even In Blackouts, so that was different from the very beginning. But my goal was to put together a group of people that would share that responsibility, and I have worked towards that goal and our last record ROMÅNTICO! Is a great example of that goal. Screeching Weasel, was decided very early on that Ben would be the predominant writer in the band. Back then I had no intentions of being a song writer, so it worked out very well for many many years. Also EIB was formed to be predominantly a live performing band, so that was much different from the eventual driving force of SW. EIB has also opened itself up to adopting many different genres whereas SW first and foremost was a punk band. No judgement from me on both those choices, I just had different ideas for EIB.
Did you learn more about life, politics or music during the Screeching Weasel years? I feel a lot of the issues that have crept into the mainstream lately, ideas as basic and important as feminist issues and racial issues, sexual preference and gender issues and the place of government in our lives, was explored in almost all aspects of the punk music scene in those days of the 80s and 90s before it emerged so strongly in the mainstream public eye. So I learned quite a bit. But Ben and I decided quite early in our musical career that our focus was more on the social implications of being a human. We toyed with, but for the most part moved away from directly talking about governmental politics and chose instead to concentrate on social politics. And that also does include writing stupid songs, it is not a contradiction, it is just having more than one goal for a band, which I think is important.
Do you think punk has the same political and DIY ethic it did back when you started 30 plus years ago? I honestly don’t know. Punk, when I was a part of it, was before the second resurgence of that genre, so it was not popular. And that was great. So that way of existing in music, not pursuing the glamour of the mainstream, allowed the scene to indulge in topics and movements that were not popular or pursued at the time. I feel this is happening somewhere in some underground scene right now, the punk that I see does not contain that diversity and risk, but I am not a full member of any underground scene anymore, so I can only assume it is still going on, just not within my world. Pop punk has become unpopular again, so I do see a resurgence in the importance of creating communities, so that part of it is amazing to be a part of. I just don’t see it being too political or revolutionary anymore.
What's new with the Jughead's Basement podcast? Mostly on break. It just takes too much energy to create fully conceived podcasts under the guidelines of what I set up, but I do still consider it alive and offer up some material occasionally when I can. For instance, just today I released an episode that is based on an online conversation I recently had with Dan Panic and Dan Vapid.
Famous Last Words: THE END.
For More Jughead Click HERE
Welcome to Musical Osmosis
Over the past 6 and a half years I have been involved in several different podcasting projects. We've done a political show that lasted from 2013 until just before the 2016 election and then ended very badly (can you say hate-filled chaos parade?). We had a trivia podcast that fizzled out after 77 episodes with a whimper, and our Kettle Of Fish podcast that lasted 104 episodes and then sadly came to an end when my best friend and cohost lost both of her parents within a couple of months of each other and had to move back home to Maine. But throughout it all (my short-lived Tin Can Media Podcast Network, My children's book "Edward" that never got off the ground, my time spent as a political writer for such sites as "If You Only News" and "Daily Discourse" that went down in flames) the one constant has been the music.
I started the Musical Osmosis podcast back in 2013 when I realized I could actually talk to some of my musical heroes from the comfort of my bathrobe. The podcast ran for about 6 months as I chatted with everyone from Steve Moriarty from the riveting Seattle punk band the Gits to the great Chicago working-class punk pioneer Joey Vindictive. But something was missing. I had no zig to my zag no McMahon to my Carson no cohost to keep me in check and keep the show interesting with more than one viewpoint at the helm, so I abandoned ship.
Then in the summer of 2015 something serendipitous happened. I became Facebook friends with both Al Pist from The Pist and Larry Damore from Pegboy. Both of these gentlemen were personal heroes of mine, Al Pist because he is my all-time favorite lyricist and Larry Damore because Pegboy's "Strong Reaction" was the first punk album I had ever heard and it dragged me out of the stale depths of the metal world and into the vibrant and politically conscious punk world where I so belonged. Oddly enough I had tried to reach out to both Al and Larry in 2013 to no avail but it seemed the starts had realigned and now was the time to bring back Musical Osmosis.
But did I want to bring it back alone....?
The answer was a quantitative-NO! So the search began for a cohost. I say search but in reality, it was a shortlist of longtime friends I had talked with, listened to, and played music with over the years and at the top of my "mad respect for your musical knowledge" list was a man named Odell Norman. And as they say, the rest is musical history.
Over the past 4 years, Musical Osmosis has allowed us to chat with some of the greats from the punk world and beyond. But it has also given me the motivation to start searching out new music again after a 10-year funk of listening to the same NOFX and Screeching Weasel albums over and over again. And just like the name suggest we have gone through our own Osmosis as we have grown as podcast hosts and evolved our format to bring the fans what we consider some damn good conversations with old school punk legends like Dave Dictor and Jughead to artists who are redefining rock music like Bonnie Bloomgarden and Crow Jane.
This new website which will not only showcase our long-running Musical Osmosis podcast but will also expand into the world of video interviews and music reviews is just the next step in our journey. A journey we are happy you have chosen to come along on, but it will also serve as a fulcrum for my mission statement that I call "Weaponized Creativity"- the process of combating fascism and hate with music and creative expression. In my opinion, art is the last bastion against fascism and has never been as sorely need as today.
In closing, I want to thank you for reading the long stream of conscious ramblings of an almost 50-year-old punk dude and to remind myself that our podcast is only as good as our guests and only as successful as YOU the fans allow us to be. -Saucey