Music Bugle Exclusive – Q & A – Justin Linn

Artwork for “The Wanderer.” Courtesy of Sweet Beef Agency.

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

A veteran in every sense of the word, Justin Linn has gotten to tour with the likes of My Chemical Romance, Billy Idol, Goldfinger, Less Than Jake, Sum 41 and Yellowcard over his 20-plus years in the music business.

A slight departure from his ska/punk roots with his band Save Ferris, where he serves as a guitarist/co-singer, Linn has steadily worked on his own solo material since the release of his 2018 solo EP ‘Love.Death.Hope’ and has occasionally put out new singles.

This past July, Linn dropped the video for “The Wanderer,” which he described as “a growth in writing; an amalgamation of the glory days of FM radio.”

The track took about a year to put together, as Linn got together with his longtime drummer friend Carlos Verdugo (Sublime With Rome) and finished it out at his own home studio after drums were tracked. Although it’s geared more towards the pop-rock/indie crowd (think “Incubus goes Reggae”), Linn ensures to bring the fun regardless.

The Music Bugle had the chance to talk with the San Diego/Los Angeles-based musician about “The Wanderer” and more.

Music Bugle – How would you compare your solo material to that of Save Ferris? 

Justin Linn – It’s completely different! Save Ferris is a well-oiled machine cemented in ska/punk history at this point, so I’m more-or-less playing parts I didn’t write and are coming from a different place. It’s a blast when we get to tour and play live, but I’ve never been shy about being a rock ’n’ roll guy at heart. Before I started playing with SF, I fronted several punk and rock bands in San Diego. That being said, there’s actually some nuances of reggae and pop in my single, “The Wanderer.” I think everything you do musically ends up having some impact on you, subconsciously or not.

Music Bugle – What has been your biggest challenge lately? 

Justin Linn – Probably just trying to balance my career and my family-life. I’ve got two young kids at home and I’m still able to do what I love. It’s not easy, but I try to make time to be creative and then time to be Dad. I also had a medical emergency in November of 2020, leaving me almost deaf in my right ear. I’ve adjusted a lot, but certain situations make it harder. I’m the resilient type, though, so I’ll be just fine. I think 2020 took a little something from everybody. (Laughs)

Music Bugle – What was your goal for your single “The Wanderer”? 

Justin Linn – Not sure I had any specific goal in mind, other than to make a song that kept interest from start to finish. It’s easy to get into that zone as a writer, where you think the song is great, but then when you really step back and take an objective listen, you realize some things could be better. I’m still always learning as a songwriter. It’s a muscle you have to keep flexing to get better.

Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your style of music? 

Justin Linn – I love big guitars, big drums and tons of harmonies and interesting layers. I engineered my newest single and I’m really proud of some of the tones we were able to achieve. It’s sonically huge and pleasing, but there’s actually pretty minimal overdubs. It was more about making each part interesting and unique.

Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?

Justin Linn – Like a lot of the world, I was home for a year and went through the entire rollercoaster of emotions. I still like that phrase “Coronacoaster.” That’s exactly what it felt like. Having my oldest kid doing virtual school was tough. I’m fully vaccinated and ready to get back to hanging with everyone again!

Music Bugle – Where do you go when you need a break?

Justin Linn – The beach. I’m fortunate enough to live in coastal North County San Diego and the beach has always had a calming effect since I was a little kid, as far as I can remember. I’m an avid runner, so I run the coastline often. It helps keep my head on straight.

Music Bugle – What makes you the most proud about where you come from?

Justin Linn – Besides the absolute best Mexican food – Sorry, San Francisco/LA – I’d have to say how down-to-earth and community-oriented people are. San Diego is a beautiful place to grow up. You realize how special it is once you leave it for a while. I love LA for different reasons, but I’m living most of the time in SD.

Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?

Justin Linn – I’m loving the new Bronx EP. New John Mayer EP is grooving, too. Other than that, I mostly listen to a lot of old shit. Lately, a lot of Johnny Thunders, The Undertones, Buzzcocks and The Smiths. I get into deep phases with time periods and pop-culture stuff.

Music Bugle – What’s a quote that motivates you to keep doing what you do?

Justin Linn – “When you become comfortable with uncertainty, infinite possibilities open up in your life,” by Eckhart Tolle.

Music Bugle – Does social media help or hurt musicians? 

Justin Linn – It’s a double-edged sword. It’s amazing any kid in a bedroom can write, record and drop a song seemingly overnight and suddenly, they’re known by millions of people… if the cards fall in place. In that aspect, it’s amazing the resources and output you can have. On the contrary, you have everyone competing for followers and likes, bots, bullies and the absence of real-world connection. It’s too late now- Pandora’s Box is open and we’re all willing contributors. I think inevitably, it’s about finding a balance and knowing when to unplug. 

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