You’ve most likely heard of the Desert Daze festival, a music and arts festival that has grown from a series of shows place at Desert Hot Springs bar/restaurant into a stacked, three-day fest at Lake Perris. Tame Impala, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and Iggy Pop are set to headline this year’s edition of the festival, taking place Friday, Sept. 30, through Sunday, Oct. 2.

But how much do you know about the founder and promoter of the festival Phil Pirrone? For starters, he’s played at every iteration of Desert Daze with his psychedelic rock band JJUUJJUU.

JJUUJJUU uses rock instruments to stay rooted in a groove—but effects pedals, layered guitars and synth sounds, and Pirrone’s eerie and delayed vocal processor give the band a jammy, trippy feel. Both debut LP FRST and sophomore release Zionic Mud provide sonically unique journeys through phasers, melting guitar tones, and space-warp mixing. Check out tracks like “Fast,” “Bleck” and “A Forming.”

During a recent phone interview, Pirrone explained how the project started as a mellow collaboration between himself and Drab Majesty’s Andrew Clinco.

“I was playing in a band at the time in L.A., and a friend of ours (Clinco) was jamming with (my) band, filling in on drums,” shared Pirrone. “Before practice, I just showed him some stuff I’d been working on. He dug it; we kind of played around with it; and we had a good chemistry. We started playing around some more, and then we decided to record. He was in other projects, and so was I, so there wasn’t a lot of pressure put on it. It kind of started from this place of a very low-pressure situation, which is something that, I think, is constant in the ethos of the band.”

Unfortunately, Pirrone hasn’t had a lot of leftover time for JJUUJJUU.

“Unfortunately, it does take a backseat to life in general—but more specifically, doing Desert Daze is definitely full-time, full-on,” Pirrone said. “I’ve been touring a long time, since like 2001, so I’m not in the stage of my being in a band where I’m like, ‘I need to be on the road for months.’ I’m kind of on the opposite end of that spectrum.”

The pandemic downtime allowed Pirrone to revisit JJUUJJUU and work on what will be the follow up to 2018’s Zionic Mud. The band recorded that LP with Dave Catching (Mojave Lords, earthlings?, Eagles of Death Metal) at Rancho De La Luna studio—an experience that Pirrone described as, “incredible.”

“(Catching) is the best—the best host, the best cook, the best vibes master, and I don’t throw that word around,” he said. “I think that word gets thrown around, and people take it too lightly, but it’s true in this case. Working with Dave Catching was a dream come true. I’ve wanted to record there for the entire time I’ve known about it.”

The collaboration with the local legend came from a place of inspiration—as well as the fact that Pirrone and his wife, Julie Edwards (Deap Vally, Heads are Heavy), are friends with Catching.

“All the records that have been made there are records that have really resonated with me, and really have influenced me,” said Pirrone. “We became friends with Dave over the years. I think that just happens: If you meet Dave, you kind of become friends with Dave. It’s hard to not become friends with that man. He’s like the personification of friendly. He came to the festival for years and really enjoyed it, and we kept running into him on tour. My wife plays in a band, and we’d be on the road and would run into them, so it was always on my mind, because I kept getting reminded of the studio just by running into him. It was just one of those things that felt like it needed to happen, and I’m really glad it did.”

JJUUJJUU.

There’s yet more new music to come from JJUUJJUU.

“We’re going to release another record in ’23, maybe two records, because we made two records during the downtime there, from 2020 to pretty recent here,” said Pirrone. “We’ve got a solid collection of tunes that we want to start rolling out, and hopefully release something for Desert Daze. We play Desert Daze, obviously; we’ve got a few more shows that are going to pop up before the end of the year, and then hopefully in 2023, we’ll do a bit of the opposite of what I said earlier and be on the road for a lot of next year. After, like, a year of that, maybe I’ll go back to the other mode.”

But even when he’s focusing on JJUUJJUU, Pirrone is still working on Desert Daze.

“We’re so connected these days; I can just pop on the internet with my phone’s hotspot in most places and on most highways in America,” Pirrone said. “I just sit in that passenger seat up front, and I just, like, zone in, and I get so much done. Something about moving forward—that forward motion, where the world’s sort of moving out the windows, keeps your head really clear, a lot more clear than just sitting in your office at your desk. I prefer to stand at home, but if I’m in the van, sitting in the passenger seat, I feel like I can get a lot done.”

Desert Daze will take place Friday, Sept. 30, through Sunday, Oct. 2, at Lake Perris State Recreation Area, 17801 Lake Perris Drive, in Lake Perris. JJUUJJUU will perform on Saturday, Oct. 1. Tickets start at $139. For more information, visit desertdaze.org.

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Matt King

Matt King is a freelance writer for the Coachella Valley Independent. A creative at heart, his love for music thrust him into the world of journalism at 17 years old, and he hasn't looked back. Before...

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