Latest release: Bout It!
Band site: deeznutshardcore.com
“So kill the bitchin’ and listen, you can’t you deny that we’re on fire.
If your rebuttal is muddled, it’s ‘cause my IQ is higher.
Be lying if I said I gave fuck regardless, for every one that hates 100 adore us.
We are unfuckwithable!”
Everything about Deez Nuts and their frontman/founder, JJ Peters can almost be simplified down to the aforementioned lyrics. As polarising as the Australian outfit’s fusion of hardcore and hip-hop has been throughout three full-length albums, their party-starting anthems have won a mighty dedicated following. The quartet now has its most stable line-up in years – Peters is currently joined by fellow Australian Jon Green on bass, while Mat “Realbad” Rogers and Alex Salinger (both from New York) play guitar and drums, respectively.
What began as a one-off project for the now former I Killed the Prom Queen drummer has spawned non-stop touring, from Europe to Asia to the USA and of course, Australia. Loud spoke to the (admittedly hung-over) vocalist about what’s on his iPod, playing Soundwave and his departure from Prom Queen last year.
Q: You’ve recently wrapped another heavy bout of European touring. Does it still surprise how well Deez Nuts’ music has translated to those of so many varying cultures, and that fans from vastly different walks of life have connected with the band?
A: Yeah, it blows my mind, man. We’re a lot stronger in Eastern Europe, mainland Europe, even like Southeast Asia and Russia and places like that. We have a much stronger following than we do in Australia even. So for us to be able to play places that we’ve never even been to and the response will be huge, and everyone knows the words, there’s a lot of fans, it really blows my mind that we’ve managed to touch the hearts of people (laughs) in places that I never thought I’d go to. Yeah, it’s crazy. I think there’s a lot of places that we hit up (that) obviously aren’t English-speaking countries, but they’re pretty well-versed in English, most of the places we go. Even like, surprisingly, we played Bosnia and Serbia recently and even there, everybody there was singing the choruses to our songs before we were actually even playing them. Like, the whole crowd was chanting and stuff. So whether or not they know exactly what they mean, they still know the words to some degree (laughs). So yeah, it’s pretty crazy.
Q: Do you therefore see a festival like Soundwave as being a crucial step towards redressing that balance?
A: Oh yeah, for sure. It’s our first time doing Soundwave obviously. We’ve never really been a band to do festivals out here. We’ve done a few small ones like Push Over and stuff like that in the past, but we’ve never done a big touring festival. We’ve done Boys of Summer and things like that, but that’s just like a package tour. So to do something like this is definitely great for us, to play to people who have never seen us or heard of us, and hopefully gain some new fans out of that.
Q: In a festival environment, it’s often the bands that have that feel-good, party vibe that tend to win over new converts, because it strikes a chord with your average punter. For instance, Steel Panther seemed to benefit enormously from playing the main stage at Soundwave a couple of years back. So this must present a real opportunity for Deez Nuts.
A: Oh yeah, I think that will be very beneficial for us, because we always try and bring that good time, party atmosphere on-stage. Not necessarily because we’re trying to do it, it’s just we do have a really good time on-stage. So it might just be people that are just walking past on their way to whatever other stage, and sort of pick up on the fact that we’re having a good time, some of that foot traffic might get drawn to our stage and they’ll see that we’re having a good time. Maybe then they’ll get into it and look us up afterwards. Our whole thing has always been that we want to create a fun atmosphere. Even though we take the band seriously, we don’t take ourselves seriously necessarily. We want to be able to have a laugh with ourselves on-stage, and have a laugh with the crowd as a result.
Q: Deez Nuts is three albums into your career now and have really carved a niche for yourselves within heavy music. But from what I can gather, longevity wasn’t really the initial intention, so was that just a happy accident which occurred along the way?
A: I guess it’s always funny. From the starting point, I had no plans for the band. I thought it was going to be something that was just sort of like a jokey side project. I played all the instruments myself and demoed it all, and I just kind of did it for the fun of it. But obviously everyone that makes music dreams to tour the world and have like a supporting fan base and stuff like that. But it was never a direct intention to carve our own niche. We stand out and the fact that we’re singing about partying and having a good time, rather than the evils of the world that everyone else seems to fucking sing about (laughs), I think that’s why we’ve kind of carved our own niche. We have a very specific fan base and we kind of stand out from the crowd a little bit.
Q: Metal/hard rock and hip-hop have obviously been fused together in the past for great commercial success, but what qualities do you feel hardcore and hip-hop possess that allow them to be effectively meshed together?
A: I think because they both come from a very similar place in the way that they’re both very rhythmic, you know what I mean? If you look at a band like Madball, you wouldn’t necessarily consider them like a hip-hop/hardcore crossover, but there’s a lot of the same elements. All of their music is very rhythmic, there’s a lot of groove in the bass and drums and stuff like that, which if you look at hip-hop, it’s the same thing. Lyrical content as well… It’s the same sort of stuff. So I guess that’s why they have the common ground there.
Q: On the hip-hop front, from where do you derive your inspiration in that regard?
A: I draw inspiration from a lot of different places. Surprisingly, I don’t listen to a lot of heavy music these days. If you looked at my most recent playlist, there’s going to be a lot of hip-hop in there, but there’s also going to be Kings of Leon and Death Cab for Cutie and all sorts of stuff. So even if it’s not necessarily things that might translate directly; like I don’t listen to Death Cab and then get an idea for a riff. But I feel like that everything I listen to inspires me in one way or another, and will come into what I write one way or another. It might not be a direct rip-off of something I’ve heard (laughs), but if I’ve heard it and it’s been in my mind, it’s obviously an influence on what I’m writing.
Q: What have you enjoyed recently of the small amount of heavy music that has gained your attention?
A: The stuff that’s getting a lot of plays on my iPod at the moment? Alpha and Omega is something that I’m really into at the moment. Our boys in Stray from the Path, their new album I think is probably the best album that was released last year, and that’s something that even though we just toured with them (laughs) and was watching them play every day, I still feel like listening to that album regularly. If not every day, at least a few times a week. So that was definitely pretty influential to me, and that’s on my heavy playlist.
Q: Interesting. Changing topics, you’ve had a new arrival in the family recently and Deez Nuts continues to grow exponentially. That’s a rather hectic schedule and must have been a key factor in your decision to leave Prom Queen after so many years.
A: Yeah, well, it just got to a point where Prom Queen was still going, but it was kind of like a side note to everybody else’s activities. Jona (Weinhofen, guitarist/vocalist) was in Bring me The Horizon at the time, and I was obviously doing this. We could make it work, because when we all had our time off or whatever then we would do tours. But since Jona left Bring Me, he wanted to step it up and make it a full-time band again. And Deez Nuts being the band that it is, we’re going on tour eight to ten months of the year, so I just didn’t have time for two full-time bands. I’ve been doing this for the longest time now, so this is where my absolute heart is and my loyalties lie, so I had to make a decision to step away so they could do their thing full-time.
Q: I spoke to Jona recently and he was discussing how you had been best friends since high school and played in bands together before Prom Queen. That must have made it even more difficult to walk away.
A: Oh, of course, it was a very sad thing. But I also feel like it’s never going to affect our friendship. We’ve been best mates forever and I wish them nothing but the best. But it was just one of those things where I felt like I’d achieved everything… I was in Prom Queen for ten years, and I’d achieved everything I’d wanted to in that time. I would rather have left on that note, rather than making it a situation where I had to miss out on tours, or make them miss out on tours because I was doing other things. I felt like it was best for me, and obviously best for them as well to go our separate ways. It was a hard choice, but it’s never going to affect our friendship.
Q: Will any of your writing contributions be appearing on their upcoming album?
A: Yeah, there were two songs that I believe got on to the album that I co-wrote while I was still in the band, because we’d been doing quite a bit of writing sort of early last year, and towards the end of the year before. But yeah, they made it on to the album, so I still had a little bit of a contribution there. I put my stamp on a couple of songs (laughs). So that was kinda cool, I still felt like I was part of it even though I didn’t lay down the final tracks. I still had a little bit to do with some of those songs, so that was cool.
Q: It’s a neat way to close that chapter of the band really, you still having a presence on the record.
A: Yeah, it’s nice to know that I had something to do with it (laughs).
Q: Indeed. Now, we’re still in early January – what was your New Year’s resolution, and have you broken it yet?
A: My New Year’s resolution was to smoke twice as much for all the people that said they were going to give up smoking, as they do every year. I think I’ve done pretty well so far (laughs).
Q: (Laughs) Any famous last words?
A: Wherever you go, there you are.
You can catch Deez Nuts at Soundwave on the following dates:
22/2: RNA Showgrounds, Brisbane QLD
23/2: Olympic Park, Sydney NSW
28/2: Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne VIC
1/3: Boynthon Park, Adelaide SA
3/3: Claremont Showground, Perth WA