San Diego-based, futuristic grind-core band The Locust formed in 1995 from the remains of hardcore bands Swing Kids and Struggle. Then a five-piece, the band now consists of bassist/vocalist Justin Pearson, drummer Gabe Serbian, guitarist Bobby Bray and Joseph Karam on synths/programming.

Having already released several singles and EPs, the band released their first full-length album on GSL in 1998. The self-titled record was 11 tracks and only 13 minutes in length. In 2000, they released a double 12” of electro/drum’n’bass remixes of their song ‘Well, I’ll Be a Monkey’s Uncle’, featuring acts like Kid 606, I Am Spoonbender and Sinking Body. This was followed by their final release as a five-piece, ‘Flight of the Wounded Locust’, a second 11 track album. Their first release as a four-man band came as a split 7” with Japanese speed-punks Melt Banana. The band had moved far from their grind-core beginnings, playing incredibly-fast, effects-laden punk. It’s easy to see where the band’s name comes from – the instruments are all played at such a high speed they’re practically a buzz. The Locust’s debut release on Anti, ‘Plague Soundscapes’, is 23 songs in under 22 minutes. The tracks are a solid kick of aggression with titles like ‘Priest with the Sexually Transmitted Disease, Get Out of My Bed’ and ‘The Half-Eaten Sausage Would Like to See You in His Office’, and the album leaves you feeling beaten, bruised but strangely satisfied.

This year, the band took their musical vision into new territory, with their 2 track, 10 movement EP ‘Safety Second, Body Last’, released on Mike Patton’s Ipecac label. For this release, the band move between swaying layers of pulsing electro and their more recognisable ultra-fast, ultra-violent punk to create a powerful, impressive and original piece of music.

Pennyblackmusic met up with Gabe and Justin (who has also been running the record label 31G since 1994) on their recent visit to the UK as part of The Locust's European tour.


PB : Your EP, ‘Safety Second, Body Last’, came out on Ipecac earlier this year. Where did the idea to have 2 tracks with 10 movements come from?

GS : Well, we just wanted to try and do one big song, with different movements in it. There’s 2 tracks for just vinyl purposes, you know, because on vinyl it’s going to be split in half. But the reason we did it is that it just felt right. We just wanted to do something different than the average 30/45 second song.

PB : How did you come to be involved with Ipecac in the first place?

GS : Our friend Kid 606, this guy named Miguel, he knows Mike Patton and I guess he did records with him, or whatever, and he gave Mike one of our records and then he liked it, and eventually he got hold of us about doing something.

PB : In the past, The Locust as a band has really agitated some music fans and critics. What do you think it is about you and your music that annoys people so much?

JP : I don’t know why.

GS: Yeah, I have no idea. It’s weird. It seems like it’s mellowed out in the last few years, but for a while…maybe just because people didn’t understand it, or it took them a while to get into it maybe. I don’t know.

JP : I think that people maybe have their priorities a little bit messed up. They focus on trivial things.

PB : You released your album ‘Plague Soundscapes’ on Anti, a label which also has Tom Waits and Marianne Faithfull on its roster. Were you surprised to be approached by them?

GS : Well, originally when they approached us, they wanted us to be on Epitaph, but we didn’t really want to be on a label with most of those bands, we felt more comfortable on a label with people we can respect and we asked to be on Anti.

JP : There’s a couple of things on Epitaph that we do like.

GS : There’s a few good things, but for the most part, it just seems to be on a label that’s as diverse as Anti. It made sense for a band like us to be on that, because it’s a pretty eclectic label.

JP : Even now though, like, after our record came out, they got Sage Francis and Noam Chomsky and stuff like that on Epitaph proper, which I thought was very diverse and very admirable. I really appreciate both of those people.

PB : What bands influenced you to make your own music, and who are you listening to now?

GS : Monster Magnet…

JP : No, no, no!

GS : Uh, what was some others ? Um, I don’t know. I find influence in all kinds of music, man.

JP : As a band, it’s totally eclectic, I think that we each have our own tastes. But we all agree on certain things…

GS : We all seem to like the same shit though, at the same time.

JP : Yeah. A lot of like Mr Bungle, and stuff like that.

GS : Yeah, some of my favourite bands are like Fantomas, and one of my favourite new bands right now that I’ve been listening to are this band called The Celebration. They’re on 4AD now. They’re really good. They used to be a band called Birdland, and I fucking love that, I love Birdland. And then, I just discovered Celebration and I love that equally. Before that they were a band called Love Life. But they were great. I love that shit. One of my other favourite things I like to listen is this guy named Vijaya Anand. He made movie soundtracks in India back in the 80’s, and there’s this record he did called ‘Dance Raja Dance’ which is seriously the most fucked up music I’ve ever heard in my life. It goes from like some weird sort of electronic country music into like some total like Miami Vice style music. It’s so fucked up. It’s like Nightrider meets…I don’t know, man, it’s just fucked up. It’s crazy. It’s hard to find, but if you google ‘Dance Raja Dance’ you’ll find it, it’s a phenomenal record.

PB : What’s the song writing process for a band like yours?

GS : It actually takes a really long time for us to be happy with something. Usually it starts by little tiny parts and then we start putting all these parts together and start re-arranging them to make them fit. But it’s pretty fucking ridiculous, because sometimes it can take a year for us to be satisfied with a minute's worth of material. So it’s kind of stupid.

PB : Justin, you run the record label 31G. What do you look for in the artists you release records by?

JP : Friends and family. That’s the first, and main, thing. I don’t want to just put out some demo I get. For instance, Holy Molar is 3 of us from The Locust, and then we’ll do stuff like Das Oath, which is the same singer as with Holy Molar; it’s always like people that are friends and family. Like, Gabe and I did something with two guys from The Blood Brothers and a guy from The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and I also did a Blood Brothers record. So it’s a very incestuous thing. It’s like a musical family I suppose.

PB : Some time ago 31G released an album of Queen covers. How did this idea come about?

GS : I remember we were talking about it on tour once.

JP : I think The Locust were just toying around the idea of covering a song, and then I just said it would be great to do a comp, and then that was it.

GS : Tell him about your new thing.

JP : Yeah, we’re doing a Birthday Party covers album. It’ll be out in February, or something.

PB : This is your tenth year as a band. Have you seen a lot of changes in the music scene since you started out?

JP : Yeah, I think everything’s changed since we’ve been a band. Even our band’s changed a lot, and as human beings, in ten years, I hope we’ve changed.

GS : And music in general.

JP : Yeah. I mean, even like with computers and technology and stuff, when we started playing that wasn’t even a thing that we would conceive. Back then we would just try and go crazy and stuff, and now we’re really trying to articulate the music better you know, and we have a really great sound engineer.

PB : What’s been the best thing to happen to you in the time you’ve been in The Locust?

JP : One of my favourite things was that we got to work with John Waters on one of his films (2001’s ‘Cecil B. Demented’-JR). That was a really monumental thing for me personally, and I think for the band as well.

GS : Yeah, that was great. That was leftfield, like, what the fuck? It was weird.

JP : And we just went to Greece on the first show of this tour, and that was awesome. I couldn’t go there any other way if I wasn’t on tour.

GS : Yeah, the travelling aspect, seriously, is one of my favourites. It makes it seem so worth it, you know, more than just playing music, to actually get to go different places and play for people that want to see it. I wouldn’t have been to Japan ever, I bet, unless I joined the Navy or something shitty like that.

PB: Thank you.











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