Justin Bobby On Making The “F*cked” Transition From Reality TV Star To Punk Rocker & A Possible ‘The Hills’ Revamp

The beach, sun, high fashion, high drama and sweeping shots of L.A traffic. There was a lot to like about MTV’s seminal reality TV series The Hills. However, if you were an awkward kid who preferred mosh pits over trendy nightclubs, there was one main draw for you — Justin Robert Brescia AKA Justin Bobby.

The young punk of the show, and at times the heel to other cast members, Justin Bobby was introduced to the series as the partner of Audrina Patridge. Pulled from a successful job as a hairdresser, Justin Bobby, albeit begrudgingly, began his career as a reality TV star.

Though the series didn’t last, the legend of Justin Bobby did. Having laid low from the cameras for some time, he’s back now, in a big way, reviving his musical project under the moniker of BobbyrocK and bringing the show to Australia this month.

For long-time followers of Justin’s work, it would come as no surprise that he donned the timber and steel following his time on The Hills. “I was playing and travelling before The Hills ever came along.” He explains. However, the transition from reality TV star to musician wasn’t without its hurdles.

“It was fucked for me because a lot of press and fans saw this and thought ‘Oh, he’s trying to play music now’ but no, motherfuckers, music goes way back to before any kind of film came up. There was a transition there that wasn’t respected.”

“Not only that,” he adds, “My film followers, or my demographic, they don’t really like the music I play. They’d rather see me do something that sells. It took years for TV fans to jump over to the music side, because that’s how they were introduced to me.”

“But music people who knew me beforehand, they know this is just what I did before.” He concludes.

Now that fans from all of Justin Bobby’s worlds have had time to make peace with his career change, the resistance he initially met has begun to subside.

“It’s better now.” Justin admits, “Before, I’d see The Hills fans coming to shows. They’d sit, stare, cross their arms, and have this look on their face that was really unimpressed. But you get passed it; we’re playing punk rock, or alternative punk…there’s so much energy and power in those songs…no one stands there with their arms folded for too long, they end up getting into it.”

At the peak of The Hills, it attracted between two to four million viewers a week. A staple of the show was its soundtrack, and Justin would have been in a good position to supply the show with his original material. That said, he never did. Justin pondered his reasons when asked why he didn’t pander to his TV audience, at least initially.

“That’s a really good question,” Justin laments, “As the young punk on The Hills? No, I wasn’t thinking smart at all. The smart way to go about it would be to write a little lullaby, like ‘Here, this is a really good spot to put this for Audrina and me. But, I was so angsty and anti-corporate-Viacom-MTV-stuff that I didn’t want anything to do with it. [At that point] I just wanted to get off set.”

With hushed rumours beginning to circulate of a Hills revival, Justin aims to approach things with his business hat on, and doesn’t plan to miss out on the opportunity to expose the masses to BobbyrocK.

“Now, we’ve been talking about revamping The Hills and all that stuff…” Justin says, “They’re asking about music and if there’s anything that would tie in. It’s funny how with maturity and a little bit of knowledge and calmness…I definitely would write for that. But back then? No. I was in my mid-20s, eating, drinking, sleeping with everyone and just heading wherever the wind blew.”

Anyone who watched The Hills would be familiar with Justin’s devil-may-care approach to the filming, plot points and other characters in general. Despite having that attitude at then, Justin looks back on his time at the show with a more positive spin, benefited with the gift of hindsight.

“I’m very blessed, and I was very thankful for it.” He says, “It wasn’t totally out of the blue, I was in the industry for a long time doing hair, I was heavily into the hair game in Los Angeles, working for all kind of bands – I was Maroon 5’s main hairdresser…I was making really good money. So, when The Hills came along, I thought ‘What is this? I don’t want to do this…I don’t need to do this’.”

“I had the attitude from the very get go that I didn’t want to be part of it.” He recalls, “But the almighty dollar comes along and gets waved in your face and you start thinking ‘Shit, maybe I should do this…’ Fuck, I worked 1 hour and made 3 times what I made doing hair. With that money you can start taking care of family and friends, so I started thinking that way and that’s what ultimately ended up happening.”

The show gave Justin a massive international platform for his personal brand to spread. However, the clout that came along with being a reality TV star simply didn’t translate into the music world. Justin was admittedly surprised by the amount of doors – and windows – that remained shut for BobbyRock. “There’s this differential between film and music where…it’s weird…they get along, and then they don’t,” Justin admits.

“It was a big reality check, and made me realise just how much harder you have to work in the music industry to make it.”

Assessing whether his time on The Hills has helped BobbyrocK in anyway, Justin is skeptical, having met face to face with the crushing reality that is the music industry.

“I think The Hills helped with our push but whoever is in the music industry, and whoever’s done the grind knows exactly what I’m talking about. You need all the help you can get. One of the hardest jobs you can ever do is being a touring, travelling, making-it musician.”

“Music fans will stay music fans and film fans will stay film fans,” he elaborates “They don’t really cross-breed. I thought having that clout in TV, it would easily get me certain gigs. That just wasn’t the case. There were some things I really wanted in the music world but was told ‘Nah, man, you have to pay your dues’.”

One area where Justin didn’t struggle for traction was press. Word of ‘The man so great they named him twice’ returning to his music spread like wildfire throughout entertainment and tabloid publications. Where most new bands are stoked to be featured on a local blog, BobbyRock was profiled on E! Entertainment News.

“The interviews always help. It’s clout-chasing, it keeps you relevant, people know you’re still working on something but it was difficult, because there was a name change too.”

During the genesis of BobbyrocK, Justin found himself umming and ahhing over potential names for the project. While he didn’t want to simply cash in on the brand of Justin Bobby, he didn’t want it to all go to waste either. “My manager said ‘Just keep it Justin Bobby, you’ll do so much better’ But that’s not a musician’s name…”

BobbyrocK was decided on, but not a moment too soon: “You change the name enough, nobody will believe you.”

Fast-forward to this year, and BobbyrocK will be making their inaugural tour of Australian stages. It may sound like an odd choice for your international debut, but upon closer look, the universe may have conspired here. “We’re going to be touring with The Velvet Addiction, they’ve been allies to us for a long, long time” Justin says.

“I’m sick of doing US tours,” He explains, “I’m sick of seeing the same roads, seeing the same shit…I thought we should cross the pond. So, I hit up The Velvet Addiction to see if we could hook anything up. They’ve been so supportive. They’re making this tour happen.”

“We just want to play these dirty punk holes and make it a booming thing, and come back! I’d love to do Australia once a year, for sure.”

As well as the Australian tour, BobbyrocK are putting the final touches on their next opus, another full-length album from the group dubbed Dressed In Black. “It’ll be an acoustic album, probably 9 songs” he explains.

“We’re just gonna keep it raw, and soften it up a bit so people can hear the lyrics. I think our lyric…. are intelligent and make you think, so we’re going to try and give it to you that way so you can hold on to songs, have it in your head and your heart….We’ll come back around and fuck everyone up with a rock n’ roll album again…”

As for his future on TV? Well, Justin keeps his cards close to his chest, but there’s signs of some movement…

“Stay tuned, some shit might be popping off on the show side…it’s the revolution…

…What size shirt are you by the way?”

Catch BobbyrocK’s 2018 Australian tour dates below

BobbyrocK Australian Tour Dates

Supporting The Velvet Addition

Tickets on sale now

Thursday, 23rd August

Secret Show, TBA

Tickets: Official Website

Friday, 24th August

The Workers Club, Geelong, VIC

Tickets: Official Website

Saturday, 25th August

The Curtain, Melbourne, VIC

Tickets: Official Website

Thursday, 30th August

Heya Bar, Brisbane, QLD

Tickets: Official Website

Friday, 31st August

Byron Bay Brewery, Byron Bay, NSW

Tickets: Official Website

Saturday, 1st September

The Lassogowire, Newcastle, NSW

Tickets: Official Website

Sunday, 2nd September

Frankies Pizza, Sydney, NSW

Tickets: Free

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