Co-founder of the psyche-rock trio JJUUJJUU and the premiere events organization, Moon Block Party, Phil Pirrone is eagerly awaiting the arrive of the upcoming Desert Daze Music and Arts Festival at The Institute of Mentalphysics in Joshua Tree October 12th – 15th as much as we all are and this year has been worth the wait. With headliners Iggy Pop, Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile and Spiritualized, this year promises to raise the bar for all other music festivals looking to capitalize on something very special for music lovers. What began as a gathering of friends and musicians in downtown Pomona in 2011 has branched out into a large-scale endeavor that has captivated fans of all types of musical classifications including previous artist Spoon, Allah-Las, Chelsea Wolf, DIIV, Warpaint and Cherry Glazerr, to name a few.
We caught up with Phil Pirrone to chat about the upcoming festival to end all festivals, the hectic schedule he keeps and his quest for future gigs with his band JJUUJJUU and the possible party in space he is trying to pin down, with gravity being the most likely major hurdle.
Can you tell us about the origins of Desert Daze Festival? How did the adventure begin?
It started as an 11 day festival at a roadhouse in the middle of nowhere.
As the festival get bigger and more popular through the years, how do you balance producing music for your band (JJUUJJUU) and producing a large event like Desert Daze?
I don’t socialize.
You mentioned that Iggy Pop was a big surprise to get on the list for 2017. Other than Iggy Pop, who are you looking forward to most seeing live that you may have not seen before this year?
Too many to mention.
What has been the most challenging (if any) part of putting on a large event like Desert Daze?
Where should I start?
What is the most rewarding part of putting on a show like Desert Daze?
After a year of stress and problem solving and spreadsheets and debating what to do, you get there to site and you join the rest of the crew (who you love dearly) and you see everyone’s face and it’s a dream life. The long arduous planning process is just long enough that you forget how dreamy it is to be on site with your team, doing the damn thing. Then, the audience and bands arrive and the show happens and you watch what you and your best friends worked on for a year come to life. That’s all we really do it for — to watch it in action and to be together doing it. There’s no other motivation.
You chose The Institute of Mentalphysics in Joshua Tree as the location for Desert Daze. What drew you to this location? Is there a personal connection to this venue?
A friend turned us onto the venue and the moment we saw it and felt the energy of the property, we knew it was the right place for Desert Daze. We didn’t learn about all the history till later, but we could tell there was something special about the place. I definitely have a personal connection to it now.
You mentioned that the first Desert Daze festival started off as a DIY-style block party. Now that it has exploded on such a greater scale, how do you keep Desert Daze 2017 and beyond a DIY festival? Or is the scale so large that it becomes harder to keep it a DIY festival?
The ‘Y’ is for yourself still, right? Well, I’m still myself. And the core team has been together since day one. As long as were all still involved, we’ll be doing it, and we’ll be doing it ourselves. There may be others involved who are also themselves and together, we will be us… but I digress.
You went on tour with your wife’s band (Deap Vally), Froth, Night Beats and Temples for Desert Daze Caravan. How did this traveling show come about? Will you be doing more traveling shows in the future? Do you actually travel in a caravan?
When 5 bands love each other very much, the tour stork comes and brings a caravan baby. We’re planning the 2018 caravan now. We did travel in a caravan, except for Night Beats who were always late… just kidding. Love you, Night Beats.
Are there future Moon Block parties or events you have in mind other than Desert Daze in 2017? Are there any parties or events that have been too outrageous or ahead of its time for the public to get behind and support? Like a party in space?
Yes, yes, and double yes.
There are so many different genres and sub-genres included in a Desert Daze festival. Are you open to any genre or is there a certain style or sound of music you want to include?
Anything goes as long as it’s the truth.
Who is on your wish list for Desert Daze 2018?
If I told you, I’d have to kill you.
What is next for Moon Block Party?
Sleep. Not the band. That’s happening at Desert Daze. I’m talking about what we’re doing after.