Justin Smith, a man of many talents, a man of many bands! Justin is the guitarists of Ghostlimb, Graf Orlock, Dangers, and co-owner of Vitriol Records. 3 of my favorite bands and the only current label that I buy ALL of their output. Justin will be touring Australia June 17th through July 4th as a member of both Dangers and Graf Orlock. He is constantly releasing new material on Vitriol, and currently recording the new EP by Graf Orlock, Doombox. What can't he do?!
Justin, I gotta say, I really love your Vitriol label. Great bands, great aesthetic, I probably have a dozen shirts from you guys.
Graf Orlock uses tons of pop culture imagery on albums, shirts, the quotes in the songs. Has anyone tried to come after you for printing shirts with Batman, having pop-up aliens on album covers, and sampling all those movies? Are you covered under some sorta weird parody law, or have the studios and copy-write lawyers just not caught on yet?
Firstly, thanks the imagery and stuff with gorlock, and consequently the label, is kind of a result of the drummer Adam and I doing bands together for so long. He is also in ghostlimb as well and has done the artwork for all the records and most of the Vitriol releases. About the copywrite thing, I am not sure how much of the imagery is an issue because most of the shirts are a twist on the plot and therefore, I think it falls under something more along the lines of satire. As far as the samples go, that is just under the radar, hopefully. It seems like what little coverage Gorlock gets, those people working in such positions of media Power have no idea what we sound like anyways, nor are they interested. It's been a couple of years now, I don't want to rest on my laurels, but I think we are pretty safe.
You are the guitarist for at least 3 bands last time I tried to count or figure it out, how do you keep each band sounding original? Do you use a different guitar or rig for each group you perform with?
Well, there are three bands and one I suppose categorized as a project as of now. For Graf orlock and ghostlimb I use different guitars but the same set up. For dangers I also use a different guitar but the rig is geared more for
Some clean stuff and more dynamics. The "project" is called buyer's remorse and that is a completely different setup for more clean older 77 style sounds. So it does get complicated, haha.
other musicians working on so many projects will play different instruments in different projects, have you ever considered playing anything besides the guitar?
also do you have a favorite band or project you are a part of? Or are they all your children and you cant really favor one over the other?
Hmm, I sing in different variants in these bands and the music is different enough to keep my attention. Each of the bands have a certain thing about them for me, gorlock which is whatever we want to do all the time and is a mixture of some ideas about the medium being the message In a band technically devoid of lyrics. Ghostlimb on the other had is a lot more subject matter based to me and is written about things I am interested in myself like history, theory, cartography, books, etc. I have only been in dangers for about a year and a half and that one is different for me because I came into a new situation and different genre stylistically than I would have just made by myself.
What lead you to starting your own label? What has the biggest headache been for you so far?
I started it so that we could do whatever we wanted whenever we wanted without having to deal with someone else's hesitations. The biggest headache thus far has been getting people other than myself and those around me to get anything done. Lagging frustrates the hell out of me.
Whats your take on music leaking all over the internet and people swapping files peer to peer? Is it a necessary evil that gets your music to new listeners or do you want the recording industry to clamp down harder on piracy?
I think that it is just a current form of cassette dubbing from the 80s. It is essential to music growing out to new people hearing it. Although I appreciate when people buy the record s and support bands, you hear new things this way. Also I want mass media corporations to crash and burn. Clamp down harder on those asshole companies.
i dunno about on the west coast but it seems here like Ticketmaster, Clear Channel and Live Nation are swallowing everything. Bands like the Locust refuse to play Clear Channel venues because of their business practices. How do you feel about playing venues owned and operated by large corporations?
For the most part the opportunity doesn't arise that much, but if it is a glaring issue, then probably not. Playing some bigger venues here in la (which by default we don't do so Much) I'm sure it would be difficult to get around. We mostly play in smaller d.I.y. Places so it's not Much of a problem.
You have also crisis crossed the globe quite a bit, how have audiences in far off places like South Africa and Malaysia responded? Are they excited to see something crazy and new? Or does those areas have their own noisey-grindy-core-metal-whatever you call it scenes?
We haven't been to
Does it bother you that a band like Green Day also claim to be "punk" but have just opened a broadway musical based on one of their albums?
Well, I suppose their origins were in the punk scene, but I don't care too much if they attempt to still represent themselves as such. Although at times the punk "scene" gets vapid and derivitive, there is always something cooperative at work in a lot of places which totally circumvents any level of corporatization, and that is always refreshing. I mean in the end these tags mean nothing and what you make is what counts.
So what is next for you, for the label, for all your bands? World domination? One step at a time, just taking things as they come? Write what you wanna read, play what you wanna hear?
Correct, well not necessarily the world domination part. We have some tours coming up in
Well thanks for taking the time, and putting up with me. If you wanna toss me a promo pic of yourself or something for the site to run with the interview feel free to link me or attach it. Also, if you wanna throw some band names or cool shit people need to check out, do it up.