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The Locust

The Sound of The Locust

 
story by tim mcmahan


 

 

Lazy-i: July 3, 2002

July 10
The Locust
w/
Arab on Radar, Erase Errata, Flying Luttenbachers and Lightning Bolt
Sokol Underground
13th & Martha

$10

In biblical times, a swarm of locust was considered a sign from god, a foreseeing of Armageddon.

San Diego band The Locust creates the sound of Armageddon in minute-long bursts of guitar-fueled venom. Their distorted noise is the sound of ordered fear, anger, violence and confusion. Their music is a symphony of raw, rhythmic chaos clocking in at the speed of utter panic. This is not your typical rock and roll music; to most people, it just sounds like shrill noise.

Bassist / vocalist Justin Pearson knows The Locust isn't for everyone.

"We have a strange effect on our audiences," Pearson said from his home in San Diego, where the band is preparing for the tour that will bring them to Sokol Underground July 10. "I guess we're abusive musically. We have a lot of energy and intensity. Sometimes at shows the crowd kind of stands there and doesn't get into it. Other times it gets crazy. People get insane and use the music as an outlet."

Pearson said the crowd gets so out of hand at times that violence bubbles to the surface. "All kinds of different stuff has happened at shows," he said. "We've had people get naked and bloody, people try to fight us, full bottles of beer thrown at us, it's all pretty bizarre. We had people set the venue on fire once and have had police escort us from the stage. You never know what's going to happen."


 

 

 

None of this comes as a surprise to anyone who's heard The Locust's hyperactive brand of music. On their last EP, the 6-song Flight of the Wounded Locust on GSL Records, the band manages to tap into the sound of bedlam on songs with titles like "Gluing Carpet to Your Genitals Does Not Make You a Cantaloupe" and "Turning Your Merchandise into a Ripped Wall of Mini-Abs." The recipe is highly charged, intricately choreographed bass, drums, guitar, vocals and circus-like Casio keyboards on tracks that run less than a minute in length. The songs sound almost random, until you realize that there is, in fact, a method to The Locust's madness.

"We use some complicated time signatures," Pearson said. "All the tempos are drastic and everything is layered as far as what each of us plays. It's pretty complex."

Critics have compared their sound to hardcore, but Pearson disagrees. "I don't see that at all," he said. "I don't know what we do, but we're not hardcore. I don't actually like very much hardcore these days. I try to avoid the whole genre."

A fan of punk and metal from an early age, Pearson said his musical taste runs the gamut to break dance and hip-hop and is reflected by everyone in the band. "Punk ethics of bands like The Sex Pistols and G.G. Allin are what got me into what I do in The Locust," he said. How does he define those ethics? "By doing something challenging musically, socially, politically, that's not safe, not tame, not routine. Something that challenges people in some way.

 

 

The Locust CD Art


"We've had people get naked and bloody, people try to fight us, full bottles of beer thrown at us, it's all pretty bizarre."


 

Erase Errata
Oops! tourmates Erase Errata


"It's a network of different bands from different labels, all really diverse in their own way, all different from an outsider's perspective."


 

"We get a lot of negative criticism from all kinds of people. I don't care," he added. "We play music for ourselves. The only thing that's important to us is playing what we want to play and saying it how we want to say it. We don't do it the way record companies want us to. Negative criticism is pointless to us. If you don't like it, fuck off. If you like it, cool."

The upcoming Locust show is part of a tour called "OOPS!" that also features performances by Arab on Radar, Erase Errata, Flying Luttenbachers and Lightning Bolt. Other stops on the tour will include performances by Cattle Decapitation, Rah Bras, Quintron, Kid 606, Wolf Eyes and Orthrelm.

"Our friend Brian Peterson, who runs Skin Graft Records, orchestrated the whole thing," Pearson said. "It's a network of different bands from different labels, all really diverse in their own way, all different from an outsider's perspective. They're all pretty fucked up musically, but share the same ethic. Only certain kinds of people will grasp what we're doing."

Pearson said after the six-week tour ends, The Locust will go back to the studio to record a follow-up to 2000's Flight of the Wounded Locust. "The new stuff is even more complicated. There's a lot more going on. We've grown as a band," he said. "We now have a better recording budget so we can afford to do a better job in the studio."

And the themes? Though the typical Locust track's vocals are entirely unintelligible to the listener, Pearson said the lyrics will continue to carry the same social and political messages. "People have been critical of Fugazi, saying they're so cliché to write about things like police brutality and abortion rights," he said. "But the brutality is still out there, and there are still problems with women getting access to their own bodies. It's stuff that needs to be dealt with."


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Published in the Omaha Weekly July 3, 2002. Copyright 2002 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.