As someone who grew up on ska, Save Ferris was always one of my favorites, so when we had the opportunity to interview Justin Linn, we jumped on it! Here is how it went!
1.) Introduction to yourself— whatever you want us to know!!
I’ve been writing songs since I was 10 years old. I’m 36 now. Have had some big highs and big lows along the way in this crazy industry, but it’s the air I breathe, so I don’t see myself ever stopping. Besides music, my two kids mean the world to me and take up a lot of my free time. I’m also an avid runner and love being outdoors these days.
2.) How you became a musician/band
My Dad is a drummer, and my Mom was always singing and dancing when I was growing up. I was immersed in music far before I can remember. Got my first drum-set at 8 years old, and quickly realized I wanted to play guitar and write songs shortly thereafter. Like all kids, it was something I gravitated to naturally and without any deeper thought process than that. I formed my first band when I was 12, coercing my neighborhood buddies to take up instruments too, so we could be a real band.
3.) In terms of your band name, how did you come with it? Does it have a significant meaning?
Well, yes… It’s my birth name, so I guess it’s significant HA!
4.) You just recently released The Wanderer— what was the songwriting process like for that? How long did it take to complete?
This song was arranged almost completely differently than most songs I’ve written. It came out of a sporadic riff buried in my Voice Memos for months. At the beginning of quarantine I got together with my longtime friend Carlos (drummer for Sublime w/Rome) for a jam at his studio, where we flushed out the bones of the song. Once the drums were done, I finished the song at my home studio over the course of a year. The result became something better than I’d originally conceived.
5.) Can you give us the backstory on your new single?
Like most lyrics I write, it’s somewhat cathartic and not necessarily something I’m conscious of when I’m doing it. In hindsight, I think it’s coming from a place of self-reflection, but there’s also this detached side of a character I’m envisioning and the push-pull feeling of feeling trapped in a situation that may not be best for you. Kinda like sipping from the Devil’s cup- it’s fun at the moment, but you know you can’t stay there forever.
6.) What is your current songwriting process like? Does it differ from the process from previously?
It’s always different, but I think it usually always comes out of sitting in a quiet room by myself with an acoustic guitar. There’s something very organic and vulnerable when you strip it down like that. It’s how I’ve always written, so it feels the most natural to me. That being said, I’ve certainly written songs around a drum loop or even a bass or synth part before. Whatever tends to spark that inspiration that leads you on the journey.
7.) Individually, what was the turning point that made you decide you wanted to become a full-time musician?
Probably the first time I saw Michael Jackson perform the moonwalk on an old VHS. As much as his legacy is polarizing these days, back then he was still the King of Pop, and I was obsessed with his stage presence before I found rock ‘n’ roll. My first recollection of being enamored with the power of a rock song was seeing Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry on a Wayne’s World skit as a kid. They played a bit of “Dream On,” and I was converted sight-and-seen. Then punk rock entered my life around 10 or 11, and that was it. Game over.
8.) How has the pandemic affected you as a band and/or artist ? Has it made you stronger, more inspired, or the same as you always were?
I think the last year has taught us all to slow down a bit, and appreciate our lives and the people we hold closely in it just a bit more. I found myself turning to music and writing often, but also would falter to waves of depression and generally feeling unmotivated. Back in November I had a freak medical emergency happen, which left me with severe hearing loss in my right ear. I struggled to find a motivating perspective at times, but have ultimately found a workaround, and am extremely grateful I’m still able to do this at all.
9.) Let’s talk a little bit about new music, if you can, can you tell us if you are working on anything new?
I have tons and tons of unfinished songs. Some are full skeletons, others are just riffs or vocal melodies that pop into my head and I put down on my phone quickly. There’s an entire acoustic EP pretty much in the can, but not sure when I’ll release that. Save Ferris is gearing up to gig and tour again in the Fall, so hopefully there’s some new stuff there as well. Right now I’m ready and jonesing to just get back on stage and connect with people again.
10.) If you could play any venue, anywhere in the world, where would it be, and why?
Madison Square Garden. It’s just iconic in every way. Also, Royal Albert Hall in London. I had the immense pleasure of closing out a tour with Save Ferris a year and a half ago at the legendary 02 Arena there, but RAH is a whole other level. Just to be able to say I’m standing where Jimmy Page did would blow my mind.
11.) If you could book your dream tour, with yourself included, who would you also have on that tour?
That’s such a tough question! I’m all over the place with music, so it’s really hard when I have to narrow it down. If we’re going with living artists I’d say: The Smiths, The Pretenders, Green Day, The Bronx and Metallica.
12.) Do you think that the experiences of the past year had any impact on writing The Wanderer?
Subconsciously? Without a doubt.
13.) Do you think that your unique sound sets you apart from other bands who may have a similar sound? Who are some artists/bands that influenced this sound?
I try not to compare myself in that way. At this point in my life and artistic endeavors I just want to make music that I enjoy. If people dig it, then I’m elated. That being said, I think there’s an obvious homage to The Police and early new wave in this song. But I also think it sounds like me, because my voice is unique and I try to make sure I’m being authentic to myself.
14.) What track of yours means a lot to you? Why?
There’s a song on my first EP called “Just for the Weekend.” Only a handful of people have heard it, but I wrote the lyrics while my Mom was going through chemo treatment for Stage IV breast cancer. She died just a few months later. There’s a line I wrote: I look at my Mother’s eyes, keeping my hope alive. Every time I’ve sung it live I get a little emotional.
15.) What can we expect from you in the future once life returns to normal? I.E.- shows, tours, music, etc.
Hopefully all of the above!
16.) What do you think is the best thing about being an artist?
Being able to express yourself in a variety of mediums. I realized at a young age it was cheap therapy.
17.) Any funny tour stories?
Too many I can’t tell! Haha. There was a funny night on tour with Less than Jake in the UK a couple years ago- Their stage show is always a circus and a lot of fun, and one of the last nights on tour we helped blow up several giant penis floats and threw them out into the audience halfway through their set. There’s a PG-13 one for ya!
*All questions written by Alonna Weaver for 570 Press