Artists have always challenged enthusiasts. Whether it was Hieronymus Bosch or Salvador Dali, Frank Lloyd Wright or IM Pei, Chuck Berry or Ozzy Osbourne, art has always taken people to the edge. The Locust is no different.
“I’m pretty sure that we bummed a lot of people out,” said Justin Pearson, bassist and vocalist for the San Diego foursome on touring with New York’s dance-punk purveyors the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. “Our whole point was to challenge people and push the envelope, and I think that’s what we did.”
Over the course of two full-lengths - most recently “Plague Soundscapes” - a number of splits and EP’s, the Locust has helped revolutionize the experimental/ noise rock scene along with such groups as Arab On Radar and Lightning Bolt. The Eagle had the opportunity to sit down with Pearson and discuss the band’s roots, live show, new label and upcoming Ipecac EP, when the Locust played D.C.‘s 9:30 club on Feb. 2.
The Eagle: The floor at your shows tends to look more like a mass wave of seizures than your standard hardcore or grind fare. How do you as a band feed off the chaotic energy that your fans produce when you play live?
Justin Pearson: I don’t know, it’s weird to focus on it. None of us really notice it, but if there’s energy you can definitely feel it, maybe subconsciously or something. As long as everyone is just having fun, I think it makes out for a better show. Obviously if some people are being a little violent or something, it puts a damper on the situation.
The Eagle: Would you rather have a more violent pit as opposed to people harassing you from the audience?
Pearson: No, I’m totally opposed to people being violent. It’s not what we’re all about. Obviously, not everyone can enjoy themselves if they’re getting the s—kicked out of them. I wouldn’t want to be getting the s—- kicked out of me.
The Eagle: In a recent interview with Outburn, it was mentioned that you’re working on an EP with Ipecac? How has the Locust developed on the new EP? Are there any changes? Has Mike Patton influenced the production at all?
Pearson: We’re still writing it, so it’s pretty far off. I don’t think that he’ll [Mike Patton] help produce it. He’s kind of more into digital recording and stuff, and we’re more into analogue. It doesn’t mean we wouldn’t work with him musically.
He’s definitely an interesting cat and we’d love to have him around when the time comes.
The Eagle: Have you seen a significant change in the size of your audience since the release of “Plague Soundscapes?”
Pearson: Yeah, the size has been better, more people and whatever, but we did a tour with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and now a tour with the Dillinger Escape Plan, so obviously when you team up with a larger band, it makes it a larger show. So I think if we went out on our own again we’d have to see where we are. I think that with our new album and being on a new label that we’ve gotten a bigger audience and a more diverse audience, and I think that that’s good.
The Eagle: Have you seen a change in the demographics in the audience?
Pearson: Yeah, it’s really nice. There’s just like average kind of people, not like people from some certain hardcore music scene. It’s just people that are generally interested in music and not just stupid scene politics. It’s nice; I think they appreciate the band more. They’re not heckling us or trying to fight us or anything. It makes for a better situation. We’re getting less of an aggressive crowd.
The Eagle: When and why was the decision to make costume changes made?
Pearson: The uniforms! I think we just wanted to do something different, something new. Keep it interesting. They are really sterile looking, I feel like a doctor or something. It reminds me of that movie, “THX 1138,” this old science fiction movie. It has a very campy feel to it.
The Eagle: Where do your political opinions stem from?
Pearson: I think all of us grew up with that kind of horror and science fiction stuff ... and a lot of it has political and social undertones and stuff. If you think of stuff like “Star Trek” and later “Star Trek” and the whole “Star Wars” trilogy all of it is very politically driven. [Also], living in San Diego is where a lot of it comes from. It’s a really conservative city, and there’s a lot of things dealing with border issues - we’re 10 minutes from Mexico - there’s a lot of blatantly racist stuff going on. It’s a tourist city so there’s not really a platform and a welcoming for arts unless it’s bourgeoisie art for yuppies. For a lot of the kids and a lot of the artists there, they would find the most obscure platforms to show their art. We filmed a video in a sewer where they used to always have shows. People would climb down these tunnels underneath the freeway, rent a generator and have these shows. The whole political structure of where we live and the geographical location really makes for an aggressive feel. It’s hard to explain because I feel like there’s no opening for people to go and play a show or be active politically ... We could all go to Berkley, Calif., and have everything be awesome and cool, but we’d rather change it [our local scene].