Ikimasho!

John Jughead Pierson: My Brain Hurts Revisited

Screeching-Weasel

Jughead, founding member of Screeching Weasel, talks about the band’s classic album.


I turned 35 last month. That means I’ve been listening to punk rock for 20 odd years. Of course I listen to all sorts of other stuff now, but it was punk rock specifically that shaped my teenage years. Green Day’s dookie exploded in 1994 – and although it is slightly mainstream and cliched to admit, it was through that record that I decided this was the type of music I wanted to listen to. Around that time, my best mate Bibs did a stint of work experience at Underground Music, a small independent record store in my hometown in Northern Ireland. I think he was 13. The owner of the store, Steve, knew we liked Green Day and so started to introduce us to all these other bands we didn’t even know existed. He himself was a big Operation Ivy fan and so we started listening to Energy, as well as White Trash by NOFX and stuff like that.

Major Label Debut was actually the first Screeching Weasel EP we heard a few years later. We thought it was amazing and so Bibs bought Boogada which had less of an immediate impact on us. I remember listening to Mad at The Paperboy for the first time and thinking “what the hell is this shit” but by the second time I was hooked. I borrowed the CD off Bibs and never gave it back. The third SW record I picked up was Bark Like a Dog – which again was a later release with higher production. And so I was listening to all these Screeching Weasel albums but in the wrong order.

Finally, the fourth album I picked up was My Brain Hurts and that’s when it all clicked. It had the rawness of Boogada but with way more melody. Stupid Over You, Supermarket Fantasy and Hey Suburbia were my favourite tracks off Boogada and so straight away I was hooked by the sound of My Brain Hurts. It’s hard to describe but the guitar somehow manages to sound both shit and amazing at the same time. A bit like the artwork. It was so simple and shit, but at the same time it just worked. There were many things that blew my mind with regards to this album. One of the main things I think is the backing vocals by Vapid. They totally change the dynamic of the record and give the album consistency. They weren’t just backing vocals for the sake of doubling up the track, they actually added something. Along with this the drumming by Panic which would become the signature Screeching Weasel sound. This album is just song after song of good material. Guest List, Slogans, Science Of Myth, Teenage Freakshow.

I’d been playing guitar for a few years at this point, but it was off the back of My Brain Hurts that I eventually I decided to play some gigs with Bibs, the guy who did the work experience. During our first gig I was wearing a homemade Screeching Weasel hoody and a guy in the crowd spotted it. His name was Baron, bassist in a band called the Dangerfields in Belfast. Up until this point he was the only other person I’d ever met in Belfast who liked Screeching Weasel and so it was amazing to talk about them to someone. Eventually I joined his band and we toured the UK together many times. I remember on one tour I left my homemade Weasel hoody in a pub we played at in Aberdeen, Scotland, only to find it still there when we went back to play another show six months later.

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On tour wearing a Weasel shirt back in 2002

A few years down the line, another band I was in supported Even In Blackouts in Belfast. EIB was formed by Jughead, original member of Screeching Weasel. That was a really big deal for us. I can’t remember much about the gig but I do remember being too shy to go up and talk to Jughead. Then, many years later, a strange thing happened. By complete chance, Jughead moved to Osaka in Japan while I was living here in Tokyo. We became mates and this the reason I am writing this post now. It’s quite odd to be friends with someone who you really looked up to as a kid. It’s a bit embarrassing, but hey that’s the effect music and musicians can have on you at a young age. Of course now I regard John as a normal guy like myself, but with loads of cool stories to share. So here I am in Tokyo, chatting shit with Jughead via Facebook who is in Osaka. I am lucky in the sense that life always seems to throw up these these totally random experiences, and this is one of them.


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Riding giant mechanical robots with Jughead  in Tokyo, 2014.

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Meeting up with John  and Kei last week in Shimokitazawa. Kei was one of his acting students from Chicago who now also lives near me.

Incidentally, Baron – the bassist who spotted my homemade hoody – just got married in Belfast yesterday. I’m gutted I couldn’t be there to celebrate with him. It’s also made me realise though, if I hadn’t discovered My Brain Hurts by Screeching Weasel I maybe never would have formed that band, made that hoody and met Baron in the first place. So I owe that album a lot!

Justin 


JOHN JUGHEAD PIERSON: MY BRAIN HURTS REVISITED

“I have been a Wizard in Japan for over two years now. And over this time one of the things I have been doing is missing being in a band. I have played a few shows with bands in Osaka and Tokyo, but the time in between is too long. Lately I have been staying up late at night with my acoustic and playing stupid little solos and rehearsing for something that I know not what…yet. This has also given me time to look back at all the music that I have done, most of my days are spent amongst actors who know nothing of my band, and I am not one to talk myself up, so when I get to meet and hang out with people like Justin, it makes my day, it reminds me that punks are a certain breed, that I enjoy not only talking to, but just hanging out with walking and even saying nothing. So when Justin suggested me posting the My Brain Hurts video on his blog (Which I love!), there was no hesitation in saying yes. The only hesitation was that I wanted him to write something first to help inspire me to face this My Brain Hurts video, which has given me a slight case of anxiety. But here it is, it is too long, and I refuse to edit these endeavors, so you get it ALL, the glory, my scatterbrained reactions to a record I recorded on 25 years ago this month.”

John Jughead Pierson



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