Sound of The Locust
story by tim mcmahan
Lazy-i: July 3, 2002
w/ Arab on
Radar, Erase Errata, Flying Luttenbachers and Lightning Bolt
13th & Martha
biblical times, a swarm of locust was considered a sign from god,
a foreseeing of Armageddon.
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."
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
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.
had people get naked and bloody, people try to fight us, full
bottles of beer thrown at us, it's all pretty bizarre."
tourmates Erase Errata
a network of different bands from different labels, all really
diverse in their own way, all different from an outsider's
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."
Published in the Omaha Weekly July 3, 2002. Copyright © 2002 Tim
McMahan. All rights reserved.