Photo by O.The Locust is one of those love/hate bands. Except instead of "love," it's more like doe-eyed-yes-master-I-killed-the-mayor-of-San-Diego-because-your-record-told-me-to-and-I-was-wearing-my-official-Locust-belt-buckle-when-I-did-it adoration. And instead of "hate," it's more like I-punch-out-your-headlights-put-out-cigarettes-on-your-back-spit-on-your-grave-and-talk-shit-on-the-Internet fatwa-style rage. They have been called the future of hardcore punk, and they've been called a bunch of pretentious fashionista assholes—and worse. They're an extreme band—not in the snowboarding-soundtrack sense, but more in the meat-grinder-with-a-keyboard-player sense—and they inspire extreme reactions. Fine, says drummer Joey Karam. That's how they like it.
OC Weekly: So what's the story behind this new fake Locust record that's just, like, five minutes of a Chihuahua barking?Joey Karam: It didn't take us too long to figure out who did it. It was really weird, though: [the bootleggers] seemed more interested in finding out what we thought of it, rather than if they were going to get in trouble. And, yeah, I did get kind of a kick out of it. People do weird shit like that all the time with the Locust, don't they?
People send us weird artifacts. Like art-class defects, weird ceramic whatevers. Or we'll find kids who just travel from show to show, dressed up in whatever garb they feel is appropriate, bringing fireworks or other destructive tools. They're ready to go haywire, and we're the soundtrack to that—a soundtrack to explosions!
Also a soundtrack to John Waters movies. You had a song inCecil B. Demented, right?
Yeah. It's unique because listening to the Locust, you wouldn't expect any kind of outside [of the fringe] interest. It probably sounds like shit to most people. But the fact that we can kind of squeeze outside that little box is significant to me. It fits very well in a John Waters world. If a man like him can thrive in this day and age, why not the Locust?
It's a really unlistenable band, and I mean that as a compliment. It's hard to be really unlistenable these days.
Hey, our songs are catchy! You just have to listen a little deeper! [laughs] But I think they are, actually. I see it as decipherable. I'm on the inside, so that's easy to say, but it's very organized.
For some reason, it reminds me of Italian Futurism—that glorification of technology, conflict as art, shit like that.
If people have to pin us to anything, I'd rather reach toward things like that: Italian Futurism, Surrealism, theater of the absurd. Basically, just an escape from rational thought and convention.
What's the next frontier for the Locust? A record that will make your bowels unclench?
Always. Using instruments as tools for causing bodily harm.
Maybe the government will contact you for anti-terrorist operations.
Or as terrorists, hopefully. I'm really into the idea of sonic weaponry—these loud pulses that can shut down vehicles are amazing to me. But financially, it's difficult to muster what you need to do that.
I hear a lot of sounds I couldn't ever identify in your music—it seems like it's going toward a point where you won't be able to tell what instruments the sounds are coming from.
Too weird is never a fucking issue, ever. [Guitarist] Robert [Bray] and [bassist/singer] Justin [Pearson] are really into effects that blur their instruments—make them sound like machines—and I really like bands such as Einstrzende Neubauten that actually use machines to make their compositions. People often say the lyrics are pure gibberish, but that's not really the case. We're mechanizing the language.
Do people ever sing along?
That's gotta take discipline.
Well, I can hear what everyone's saying, but I'm used to it. But kids do seem to do some serious listening.
Why do you think people are into it? The whole idea of atomizing how a song is supposed to work? Or just because it's fast and crazy and will piss off their parents?
Fast and crazy is important, but it's hard to say—it's a little bit scary because it's a bunch of kids who are super into freaking out. And they wouldn't know one another otherwise.
So you're bringing people together.
We're a friendly band! Why be so hostile?
Yeah, what was the deal with people throwing bottles at you in Florida?
Before we started playing, even, bottles were flying. And they just kept flying. And then some kid came up, really angry with us, and tried to push my keyboards over.
Why the anger? Like, "Play something with traditional song structure!!!"?
Just over stupid rumors. Sometimes people can be really fucking stupid. If you asked any of those kids what they were really angry about, they'd probably tell you something that made no sense. People just like to be angry. And again, we can provide a soundtrack to that!
How much of the bottle-throwing was just ironic bottle-throwing, like, "Well, here we are at a supercrazy Locust show. Time to start being supercrazy"?
That night, it seemed pretty fucking honest.
Almost part of the performance?
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I think the Locust is almost out of our hands at this point. You just gotta roll with the punches.
So what will the final Locust record be? At what point will you step back and say, "Yeah, we did it"?
A sonic atom bomb. A record that destroys everything.
The Locust performs with Toys That Kill, Cattle Decapitation and Orthrelm at Chain Reaction, 1752 W. Lincoln Ave., Anaheim, (714) 635-6067; www.allages.com. Fri., 7:30 p.m. $8. All ages.