Oathbreaker New Album Rheia and Song

Oathbreaker, Belgium’s all-audio solution to swimmer’s ear and constipation, drop their new album Rheia Sept. 30 via Deathwish. The menacing four piece is sure to make America Great Again as they hit the road in support (tour dates below).

With boards, mixing and mastering helmed by Jack Shirley (Deafheaven, Loma Prieta) Rheia, continues the band’s legacy of churning riffs, epic metal infused hardcore and stoic group band photos.

For a full frontal audio assault, point your browsers to the song, “Needles in Your Skin” available at https://soundcloud.com/deathwishinc/pathbreaker-needles-in-your-skin/s-jdYji

OATHBREAKER, ON TOUR:
9/28 Asheville, NC – Mothlight #
9/29 Atlanta, GA – The Earl ^
9/30 Savannah, GA – The Jinx ^
10/1 Tampa, FL – Crowbar ^
10/2 Gainesville, FL – The Atlantic ^
10/4 New Orleans, LA – Siberia ^
10/5 Houston, TX – White Oak ^
10/6 Dallas, TX – RBC ^
10/7 Austin, TX – Barracuda ^
10/9 Phoenix, AZ – Rebel Lounge ^
10/10 San Diego, CA – Brick By Brick ^
10/11 Los Angeles, CA – The Roxy ^
10/12 San Francisco, CA – DNA Lounge ^
10/14 Portland, OR – Panic Room ^
10/15 Seattle, WA – Highline ^
10/17 Salt Lake City, UT – Metro Bar ^
10/18 Denver, CO – Marquis Theater ^
10/19 Kansas City, MO – Riot Room %
10/20 Des Moines, IA – Vaudeville Mews %
10/21 Minneapolis, MN – Triple Rock %
10/22 Chicago, IL – Subterranean %
10/23 Indianapolis, IN – 5th Quarter %
10/25 Pittsburgh, PA – Cattivo %
10/26 Philadelphia, PA – Underground Arts %
10/28 Brooklyn, NY – Saint Vitus %
10/26 Baltimore, MD – Metro Gallery %
10/30 Richmond, VA – Hardywood Brewery %
# with Skeletonwitch, Iron Reagan, All Hell
^ with Skeletonwitch, Iron Reagan, Gatecreeper
% with Skeletonwitch, Iron Reagan, Homewrecker

Cursed III: Architects of Troubled Sleep (March 25, 2008!)

cursed IIIThis is one of my most anticipated releases of spring 2008. Cursed is an amazing hardcore band from Toronto who completely rule. Here is the cover art.

The album drops next Tuesday, March 25. They’re touring Canada, lets hope they make their way down to San Diego, we’ll welcome them with open arms. From the look of the goodfellow site, apparently they’re working with Relapse for their ecommerce shit, very cool! I hope i can pick up the vinyl at off the record or lou’s. Check out a new tune from III at the goodfellow records myspace page. “Tell em’ large Marge sent cha!”

South By Southwest Day 2.5

naked raygun

Naked Raygun

Yes day 2.5. The days go from about noon to 3am. Or that’s when I start realizing I’m seeing some band I should be writing about and scratch some notes in my book with a some note that says “remember this,” and nothing else to reference what I’m supposed to be commiting them to memory. Day two began in the hotel restaurant/bar where I ordered a salad and a bloody. The salad was terrible, big chunky unripe avocados instantly turned my stomach. Who needs food when you’ve got the unsullied dreams of thousands of musicians filling every nook and cranny of every place you turn right?

I headed to the convention center to see if I could get a press tag for my video camera since I got denied at Van Morrison the night before. Inside the Austin Convention Center is where you will find the ‘Exhibition’ space for SXSW. It’s a veritable who’s who of ‘who cares’ with the exception of some amazing guitar companies, like Taylor Guitars (plug). Companies that have 10×10 booths selling everything from something called an iStick, which is a portable video device to Armed Forces Entertainment who book bands to perform overseas for soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

You’ll also find some panels taking place; usually the good ones are at the same exact time, early in the morning when most musicians present are still asleep. Useful panels about getting signed to record labels, licensing music, working with brands to supplement your bands income, ASCAP talking about industry health insurance. Incredible panels that folks can take advantage of if they shelled out 400.00 dollars for a badge in October of last year, or the ‘Day of’ price of over $600. Wow! What a deal for that little band from Jersey who spent 1K on a Van Rental to drive all the way here to play two little clubs without being able to book any shows on the way since every band in America has booked up clubs and venue’s east, west and north of Austin.

Thursday evening I moseyed over to the Texas Rock Fest sponsored by Guitar Hero III stages. The Texas Rock Fest is in its 3rd year and used to be held in an empty lot that had been dubbed ‘Beirut’ for its urban warfare visage. Newly situated in a giant parking lot, Rock Fest is free and open to the public and all ages. With its central location on 7th and Trinity it is an easy place to find and if you are local or a band without money it is a good place to end up, drinks aren’t cheap though so make friends with a stage hand and soak up the free ones back stage. The Normal Kids from Evergreen, CO played a ripping set with a stand in singer named Travis who belted out each tune like they where his own.

I attempted to make it to the Anti showcase later that night to catch Billy Bragg again and The Weakerthans but I ended up at Vice watching Fucked Up. The problem with this behemoth of a festival is that you will ‘attempt’ to make to as many things as possible but end up straying and getting pulled into some vortex watching another band. Getting pulled in to the Fucked Up vortex was well worth the distraction. Singer Damian Abraham stalked the stage like a polar bear, moving his considerable mass gracefully through the raised fists in front of the stage, raining spit and sweat on the first 3 rows. Take one look at their wiki entry and you’ll get an idea for their brand of irreverent punk rock.

That concludes day 2.5. Day 3.5 soon to come (with pics and vids!).

Billy Bragg 

South By Southwest Day 1.5

Dub Trio

Dub Trio live at Red Eyed Fly

The key, when entering this particular environment, is to avoid spirits, sticking to beer will save your life at the end of the night. I’ve seen those who decide to walk the path of shots and mixed drinks. They’re ugly man. They get carried out by their slightly embarrassed friends who, I’m sure are making excuses for the friend who can’t hold his or her booze while shuffling pass the tsk-tsking security. Touched down in Austin yesterday afternoon.

On my airplane was Jon Foreman from Switchfoot, Grand Ole Party and a fellow in the row next to me that was dressed like he could be in a band—or gay. Point is there are just under 20 bands from San Diego this year like Earthless, The Muslims and an entire Swami (John Reis from Rocket from the Crypt’s label) showcase. I kept my mind nimble as I maneuvered through the thronging mass of revelers, slowly making my way to where I would be seeing Dub Trio at midnight. Stopped in a couple different bars, including Headhunters where I saw Cory and Pat from Vena Cava. A fantastic punk band was playing by the name of Watson. Great songwriting. Lots of energy on a stage that barely fit the entire band. It was cramped. Next I hoofed it over to Stubbs. Saw Michael Stipe and the other dudes from REM mingling with the crowd. A few bands from Athens were playing and REM was the headliner. I didn’t stay but a friend of mine said they were great, played a lot of new up-tempo tunes that rocked. That’s cool that REM rocks.

After spinning my wheels and lubricating my main frame for a couple hours I hit the ground running at the Red Eyed Fly where I patiently waited through two super shitty bands. One of which had a guitar player that didn’t have much restraint. He smashed his SG on the ground. From the stage. No one was in front of the stage. It didn’t break the first time so he picked it up and hurled it from the stage again, headstock first. Douche nozzle. His backup guitar was a Reverend. They make neat little guitars for under $1K from plastic with wood necks. Great guitars for playing surf rock. It’s the kind of guitar you would smash and not feel bad about, but he killed that Gibson.

Dub Trio went on at about 12:15am. What an amazing show. They played some songs from their new record as well as from their debut, New Heavy. When they come to your town please go see them. I took some pictures but I failed to bring the chord to transfer them to my computer. Go figure.

Naked Raygun closed the show. Quite a bit of drunken moshing took place which was good to see to a normally ‘I’m so fucking cool I don’t dance’ kind of crowd. Limped back to my room at about 2 and hit the sack.

This morning was amazing. Lou Reed was the keynote this year (Pete Townsend was the keynote last year) and he was mesmerizing. Hal Willner, a music producer who has worked with Reed and Marianne Faithful and dozens of other notables moderated. They knew each other so it was comfortable and relaxed but Reed is a thoughtful speaker and Willner made a joke about trying not to cut him off. Not that Reed talks like Captain Kirk but he takes his time to answer things and usually what he says is great, like his songs. They discussed the new performance film of Reed’s album Berlin, directed by Julien Schnabel called. The most interested aspect of the discussion came about when they began to talk about technology and music. Reed said, “People have to demand a higher standard (for recorded music). People that like good sound will (some day) be looked at like some strange animal in the zoo.

Adding, “[technology] is making it easier to make things worse.”

Yes he collects records. He likes to listen to Melt Banana in small doses and even entertained the idea of resurrecting some of his old albums like he did with Berlin. Some assholes cell phone kept going off during the interview and Reed, frustrated by this point, mentioned that they should shove that phone up a cow’s ass, being in Texas and all. He was funny, intelligent and well spoken. It was the highlight of the day [though the day is still young at the time of this writing].

I caught Thurston Moore and Steve Reich in the afternoon. Suffice to say it was a learning experience. Reich and Phillip Glass are pals and used to have a moving company called Chelsea Light Moving where they would go around and pick up smelly old couches then dump them or sell them. Music ain’t all about the glamour right?

Billy Bragg closed out the SESAC Day Stage. I’ve got footage and will post it soon. Now I’ve got to go eat some food and drink another dozen Lone Stars. There is a reason you can only really find Lone Star in Texas, its like Pabst but not as good.

Fucked Up: Live

Cursed: The best new Hardcore Band!

These Cannucks play a brand of throaty viking style hardcore/rock that makes my nuts tingle and my fist raise automatically. Their last record, titled Two, is a monument of aggression to behold. “Clocked In, Punched Out” is a wonderful indictment of working within the system. Who knew Canadians hated working as much as Americans? Here’s some info on their upcoming release, culled from the tender pages of punknews.org (see they do post some news about awesome bands sometimes, its not always Fall Out Boy fashion lines or Against Me! updates – natch).

Canadian hardcore quartet Cursed have posted the first song from their upcoming third album. The record, Cursed III: Architects of Troubled Sleep is the follow up to 2005’s acclaimed full length, Two.

You can check out “Magic Fingers” right here.

Anti-Matter Anthology:

So anybody familiar with how amazing underground music was in the early nineties will tell you that the anti-matter comps werethe best way to get familiar with the newest and best in post hardcore. The music on these records set the stage for what would later become the emo scene of the late 90’s. There was the big buy up the major labels attempted to get some relevance by signing bands like Samiam, Orange 9mm, and Quicksand but of course that shit failed as an experiment to capitalize on something that wasn’t really ‘grunge’ but had all the trappings of a living scene while Nirvana ruled the air waves. Basically the second wave of emo being Sunny Day Realestate, Promise Ring, Jimmy Eat World. I guess the first wave would have been Embrace, Rites of Spring and uh – The Replacements? Whatever, I don’t have a degree in scene-musicology. Anti-matter is where i discovered Split Lip/Chamberlain, Shelter, 108, Snapcase, Texas is the Reason and probably one of the best songs Quicksand ever released. Lots of amazing bands laid the groundwork of lots of shitty ass bands from this era. Sure its not hardcore from the salad days, it was music made by people that lived through Gulf War I. Here is the latest on what will most definitely be one of those documents of note like Our Band Could Be Your Life.  Thanks to author Norman Brannon for taking the time to put all the pieces of my youth together.

For those who don’t know, Anti-Matter was a fanzine published between 1993 and 1996 from a bedroom on the corner of East 10th Street and First Avenue in New York City. Anti-Matter was also a compilation album, released in 1996, that documented sixteen hardcore, post-punk, and indie bands who weaved the fabric of the music that featured prominently in the fanzine. On November 6, 2007, for the first time ever, Anti-Matter will become a book: The Anti-Matter Anthology: A 1990s Post-Punk & Hardcore Reader will be issued by Revelation Publishing, the literary sister of Revelation Records.

On this site, you’ll find updates on the book’s release schedule, a weblog with practical announcements and random stories from the era, related event schedules, and a safe place to debate the important things — like Split Lip vs. Chamberlain. Or “Can We Win” vs. “Give It Up.”

Anti-Matter was conceived and created by Norman Brannon — in 1993, a former guitarist for Ressurection, 108, and Shelter. Upon its demise, Brannon went on to form Texas Is The Reason and New End Original, in addition to working as a DJ and running an independent dance label called Primal Records. His work has been published in Alternative Press, Punk Planet, Ego Trip, Soma, and VIBE, among others. Brannon is currently working on new music, as well as a second book of short-story nonfiction. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, and online at Nervous Acid. Also, he apologizes to anyone who bought Fuzzy or Inch records at his behest.


PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY FROM AMAZON.COM NOW!

FOREWORD BY AARON BURGESS

One of the first rules you’re taught in journalism school is objectivity. One of the first things you learn as a rock writer, and one of the only truths that torments you throughout your career as such, is that objectivity stinks. I mean, who besides the most reactionary, humorless fanatic really wants to read an “objective” record review? (You know: “Band X has been making music for Y years. Band X’s new release, Really Important Record, does this and that. It also does this and this and this…”) What rock writer with real human emotions — and not the High Fidelity-sort of pseudo-emotions one gets from memorizing album credits — has ever conducted an objective interview?

These are rhetorical questions, of course. You need only look as far as the rock magazines on your shelves, the rock sites in your Web browser, to find page after page of mannered, noncommittal stories about nothing: Puff pieces exalting the “kewl” new sounds of rock’s flavor of the minute. Illiterate rants penned by sycophants who think all a critic needs are ears, a press release, and a PC (the music’s always secondary, of course). Very rarely today do you find a rock writer whose work tears into the guts of the matter, whose questions get beyond the music’s surface to examine the real human issues lying underneath. Not the well-worn issues of personality and decadence, either, but The Big Issue of what it means to be a frightened human being truly living on this big, lonely planet.

I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right — sort of. Most modern rock bands don’t examine these kinds of issues, so most rock writers don’t have to dig deeply to get the story. But in hardcore and punk rock, the genres on which Norman Brannon’s fanzine Anti-Matter was built, thousands of intelligent, motivated musicians have long been examining the kinds of existential issues others have put on the backburner. True, a lot of punk musicians are young, and young people by nature are bound to have stupid existential crises. In this area Norm was no different. But there is one crucial area in which Norm broke from his peers in the punk zine community, an issue around which he lives even now that his tastes have shifted toward pop and electronic music: Norm was, and is, a seeker. He interviewed bands for Anti-Matter not because he liked their music (although he did), but because he found something intangible in their music that described how he was feeling, and he wanted their help in understanding just what that “something” was.

Norm wrote what he did in Anti-Matter because he had to; the fanzine’s contents reflected the conflict that was unfolding inside the writer. He often asked questions that were embarrassing to read (many of which are reprinted in this book); but even in his most naïve line of questioning he could articulate the issues that he — and, invariably, his readership — was facing at that point. There’s something beautiful and natural about even the most earnest writing in Norm’s old interviews. When today’s younger punk writers adopt similar styles, their work seems forced. Even at its most amateurish, Norm’s writing never had that quality.

Which isn’t to say that Norm launched Anti-Matter because he wanted to be regarded as “seminal” in the field of punk fanzine editing. The zine’s content flowed naturally, innocently, and it mirrored the direct links between the music, Norm’s heart, and Norm’s head. The hype about Norm’s being “seminal” would come later, much to his dismay, from the author’s admirers — most of whom, unfortunately, would continue to miss the point in their own work.

Norm once said of Anti-Matter, “I was basically trying to get [my interview subjects] to say the things I was thinking in my head — partially because I just wanted to know that I wasn’t a freak, and partially because I wanted other people to know they weren’t freaks, either.” With that noted, I think there’s just one reason why Anti-Matter is no longer publishing — and it has nothing to do with music, advertising concerns, or scene politics. Norm found the truth he was seeking, and he learned to take that crucial next step.

Bad Religion: An Interview with Greg Hetson

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When it comes to bands that have made their unique mark upon an ever-expanding world of music, Bad Religion’s 20-plus years of playing rank up there with The Beatles as far as influential bands are concerned. Of course, many of those bands may never play the Hollywood Bowl or the Bowery Room in New York, but each year they’ll be on Warped Tour, The Take Action Tour and headlining their own sold-out shows. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and if that’s the case, then Bad Religion is flattered beyond all expectations. Their latest release, The Process of Belief, is another example of what it means to push limits and push sound—to move past what may be expected and surpass everything that came before.

The history of this prolific punk rock machine began almost two decades ago as a reaction to an environment that was not only hostile to punk rock music but also an industry that wasn’t taking any chances on anything that couldn’t turn a profit. Three teenage friends growing up in Southern California met and began rehearsing in a garage, playing shows and recording a completely DIY EP. Brett Gurewitz, Greg Graffin and Jay Bentley soon realized, much like their counterparts in Black Flag and Minor Threat, that to get anything done they had to do it themselves. With that, Brett decided to start a label called Epitaph Records to release the now classic, How Could Hell Be Any Worse?

Several years later and a couple band members more, Bad Religion was soon becoming more than just a hobby. With the addition of Greg Hetson on guitar, Bad Religion’s sound was fully rounded out into the melodic buzz saw attack, a signature sound they have become famous for. 1987 was a good year for the band. They recorded the classic, Suffer, an album that held fast to their punk rock values while embracing a high amount of production quality. Soon after the success of Suffer, three more albums were released—No Control, Against the Grain and Generator—creating a veritable quadripartite of punk rock genius.

From that time on, the band managed to release one album a year, and in 1993, during a time when punk rock music was taking a loose hold on the mainstream, they were signed to Atlantic Records and managed to land a hit with the track, “Infected.” In 1993, the record Recipe For Hate, which hosted guest appearances from such greats as Concrete Blonde’s Johnette Napolitano (“It Struck a Nerve”) and Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder, who lent his signature voice to several tracks (“American Jesus” and “Watch it Die”), further broadened Bad Religion’s scope as musicians and respected artists. The years to follow had the band jumping from Atlantic to Epic and finally back to Atlantic. With the release of their latest record, The Process of Belief, the band was once again at home with Epitaph and under the wing of their friend and musical brother Brett.

During the times when Brett was involved heavily with the label, Bad Religion hired the talents of former Minor Threat guitarist, Brian Baker. A triptych of guitar talent was formed with Hetson and Brett, and the three brought a new aesthetic to the idea of what makes a band. Eschewing everyone’s expectations and pushing well past any predetermined ethos, Bad Religion took on the year 2002 with magnified intensity, bringing The Process of Belief to the forefront of progressive rock music.

Hetson always wanted to play guitar, but he was never in school band. “I wasn’t in school band because I wanted to play guitar but they didn’t have guitar in band,” he says. “There were a couple of schools in my district that did. I remember seeing them wheel around these Pignose amps for guitar and bass.”

Some of Hetson’s earliest influences in music were such guitar-heavy bands as The Beatles, Credence Clearwater Revival, Queen, Judas Priest, The Ramones and The Buzzcocks. Early L.A. bands like Black Flag and X inspired him as a player as well. His first guitar “was a cheap Harmony electric all-in-one that I got when I was 12. I play an (Gibson) SG now through two Marshall straight cabs and a Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier. I also have a Marshall 6555, Silver Jubilee (released in 1987 to celebrate 50 years of Marshall business), which has a little more output than a JCM 800.”

Hetson began, as many do, by taking guitar lessons, learning the basics and hoping that one day, he would be playing in a band of his own. “At about 16, I started playing along with some friends who also wanted to learn how to play. I think I was about 19 when I started with the Circle Jerks. Basically what happened was I quit Redd Kross in front of the Whiskey, and Keith (Morris, singer of the Circle Jerks) overheard me saying I didn’t want to be with the band anymore, and he said, ‘Screw those guys let’s start our own band.’ He said, ‘I know a bass player,’ and I said, ‘I know a drummer.’ And that’s kind of how it all came together.”

So how did Hetson start playing with Bad Religion? you might ask.

“They actually gave me a demo tape. One day we were all hanging out at Okie Dogs. It was a place we all used to hang out at after shows. I really liked it and became friends with the guys. We (The Circle Jerks) were going to be on the Rodney On the Rocks Show the next week, and I said something like, ‘If we like the tape we’ll play it over the air.’ I started getting them opening slots on our shows and air play and somehow I ended up in the band years later.”

When it comes to orchestrating six members of a band, it takes lots of patience and practice. Fortunately for Bad Religion, having three guitars transfers well in both a live and recorded setting. Hetson says, “Surprisingly enough, recording is pretty easy because we do so many overdubs and layering anyway. Live, it kind of just works. We don’t do a lot of the shows with him (Brett), but when he does we’ve usually got enough going on that it works. Part of the time we’re all doing the same thing and other times others are doing different accents and things that were on the record. So it kind of works out—we thought it would sound like a wall of mush but it actually sounds good.”

The writing process for Bad Religion is collaborative. “For the most part it’s collaboration, but sometimes someone will come in with a complete song,” he says. “If you look at a lot of the songwriting credits, [they’re] always attributed to pretty much everyone.”

The new Bad Religion record is about half way through the mixing process. Hetson says, “It’s coming out really great. I think everybody is really happy with it. Some really strong songs. Some heavy lyrical content, as usual. It’s a little darker, lyrically than the last record maybe. There’s a lot of stuff going on these days for inspiration.”

Bad Religion has always been at the forefront of music both politically and socially with their various contributions to charities over the years and their songs inspiring fans to think outside of the box. The auspicious title for their soon-to-be-finished record is The Empire Strikes First, and like Hetson said, it has some ”heavy lyrical content.”

Of course, the lyrical content of Bad Religion’s songs has always been a message of self-empowerment, articulated positively by a UCLA master’s degree/Cornell University Ph.D. (Evolutionary Biology/Zoology/History of Science) wielding Graffin. They also have a band-sponsored research fund that “was created to allow students to pursue field-oriented investigations in cultural or natural science,” according to Hetson. “It is an award with an educational focus and is meant to promote self-motivated discovery, practice of the scientific method, and experience in scientific writing.”

With two decades of music behind him and many more ahead, Hetson, like his Bad Religion band mate Brett, decided to start a label with long time friend and producer, Steve Kravac. The two met at Westbeach Studio some years prior and decided to take their experience as musicians and give back what they had learned in the business to younger bands. According to the Porterhouse Web site, “Each band added to the Porterhouse roster has been selected for their individual merits as opposed to the strategy of many indie labels that adhere to a sonic likeness to create label identity.”

Hetson says that in music today, “People can’t tell Trapt from Incubus. You can’t tell one from the other. They all jump up and down, choreographed in time to the music. The most important thing is to create your own identity. Classic punk rock bands like The Clash didn’t sound like The Ramones. The Adolescents didn’t sound like Black Flag. None of the bands sounded like each other and maybe that’s why no one is selling records anymore.”

Hetson added some words of wisdom, saying, “The best thing you can do when you’re first starting is play the music you want to play. Try to create your own identity and style, and stick to what you believe in musically and philosophically. Do something with a twist.”

With that kind of grassroots individualism in mind, Steve and Hetson have managed to produce great records from bands like Speedbuggy and the newest edition to the Porterhouse family, Lightweight Holiday. Porterhouse is essentially run out of Hetson’s garage where they built a Pro Tools studio. “We’ve got enough room in there to cut drum tracks. It’s a two-car garage and if we do drums in there, we have to track them in the control. We’ve got a good-sized iso booth where we can fit a couple guitar amps and get some decent vocals out of. We’ve got two rooms, one small and one pretty big.”

When it comes to sonic differences between analog and digital sound, Hetson says, “I guess analog sounds better but you know, well they both sound pretty damn good. Analog sounds better but for convenience sake, Pro Tools works better. We do some of the drums on tape, depending on what the bands budget is and the rest on Pro Tools. We’re doing the new Bad Religion record with the drums on analog and everything else on Pro Tools. When it comes to time saving and money saving, you can’t beat it.”

Porterhouse is a small band’s dream. The Web site invites bands to send in unsolicited material and that’s essentially how Lightweight Holiday was discovered. “They just started sending in demos and after about a year-and-a-half of listening to their stuff, I had them open up for The Circle Jerks and checked them out live. Then we went in to rehearsal with them and told them, ‘We really like you guys but try this out and this out.’ They liked how we were approaching things and we said, ‘Let’s do a deal.’ They were really receptive to our feedback. Some bands are really reluctant when it comes to offering feedback, but they were really receptive.”

When all’s said and done, and the feedback from the amps reverberates to its final decay, Bad Religion isn’t just some average punk band you might listen to on your MP3 player, or in your car on the way home from school. They are, without hyperbole, an institution of integrity. By posing questions and always challenging their fans to think first, Bad Religion is an example of an ongoing legacy that hopefully inspires more young bands and fans to follow their dreams.
____________________________________________________________________

This ranks up there with one of the more remarkable interviews I’ve done. I definitely got the best of two of my favorite punk bands with Greg being part of BR and Circle Jerks.

Situation of Noise: An interview with Justin Pearson of The Locust

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In our Starbucks coffee driven fast food and reality based short attention span world, certain challenges arise to the creative minds of our generations. Sometimes these challenges are met with variant modes of creative outlet and of recent years it seems to be occurring in music. The base for era spanning communication has always had a home in that many of societal problems coexist in the ethereal world of sonic composition and creation of ART. Art is merely a means to an end. It can take many forms, painting, poetry, architecture, and most importantly for the purpose of this feature, music.

The Locust are in the trenches of their self-described “noise terrorism” war on contemporary and conventional thought. Formed in 1995 from the ashes of San Diego based noise core bands, Swing Kids, Struggle, Crimson Curse and about a dozen other notable bands, they have seen their fair share of current trends rise and fall with the fickle youth of America. Themusicedge.com had an opportunity to speak with Justin Pearson; the bass player of The Locust and his musical background is about as peppered as the bands laundry list of line up names.

According to J.P., “I’ve always liked music since I was a little kid, when I was 5 or so I was going to go see KISS but my mom said I was too young. We used to always pretend with tennis rackets and stuff. Then when I was ten or eleven my mom’s cousin let me borrow his guitar then eventually I picked up a bass.”

J.P. adds his history on lessons by saying, “I taught myself. When I first moved out to San Diego I took lessons from this guy and all he would do was show me how to play rock songs, so he’d show me this riff. But I never really learned how to play. I only took like three or four lessons from the guy and I thought it was a waste of time so I ended up messing around with other people. My friends and I that also didn’t know how to play, we didn’t know together so we figured things out that way.”

The Locust not only manage to destroy conventional thinking about how music should be arranged but they also have a tendency to create from that chaos some pretty technically proficient song structures. Their sound is somewhere between chaos and harmony, with an emphasis on controlled chaos. When seeing them live recently at their record release show (the new record is called Plague Soundscapes, its on Epitaph/Anti Records) at San Diego’s, Off The Record, playing to a packed house, it was noticeable to most in attendance that it was really hard to see them if you happened to get there one second late, like I unfortunately did.

Their sound is brutal and not for the faint of heart but one cannot deny the musician ship it takes to create such music. Not only does The Locust have an amazing zeal for creating music, but also most of their cleverness comes in the way they merchandize. Instead of your typical T-shirt, hooded sweatshirt fare, most Locust items consist of Skateboards, compacts with “The Locust” logo on the mirror and the standard aforementioned products.

J.P.’s musical tastes are as eclectic as his music, although he retracts his former fascination with KISS, “I think they are so lame. I hate KISS a lot now and I’m not into how misogynistic they are, but when I was a little kid I like the way they looked.”

Adding, “I really was into Styx and Boston when I was really, really little. Then I got into break dancing and early rap like Run DMC and Beastie Boys. It’s weird though because I grew up in Phoenix Arizona, it’s a total hesher state and everyone is into heavy metal. So I got into metal, I ended up living a couple blocks away from some of the guys in Slayer and that really intrigued me. The whole metal punk tie and I ended up getting into punk. The first band that got me really interested in music was the Sex Pistols. I stumbled upon some of the really early skate punk tapes that Thrasher (magazine) used to put out like Septic Death, but I didn’t want to limit myself musically so I take from everything.”

J.P. has played in some of the early GSL Records-style noise-core bands, like his first band which he states, “I got into my first band when I was about fifteen years old called Struggle, that was the first band I was in that was a real band. I was in a band called Swing Kids and The Crimson Curse and I’m also kind of still in this band called Holy Molar, it’s a weird project band. The Drummer lives in Portland and the singer lives in New York. I started The Locust about seven or eight years ago.”

The Locust has for all intensive purposes, felt their share of success. What could be construed as more successful than being used in a John Waters film (Cecil Be Demented)? And with their recent sign to punk rock powerhouse Epitaph and its subsidiary, Anti, The Locust have no choice but to prove that you can be aggressive in your approach when playing music without being predictable. And it’s unpredictability that separates The Locust from other bands. “A lot of people, especially drummers play the same beat, they obviously aren’t being creative. Whatever makes that band works is their deal,” says J.P.

As far as the writing process goes, J.P. says that its group oriented, “It kind of mutates over time and we all kind of write equal parts it just depends, someone will come to practice and they’ll have a couple parts to work with and we’ll build off of them. For instance Joey (Keyboards) will have these parts that are virtually impossible to translate onto guitar and base so it will force Bobby (guitar) and I to write around it and work with what he’s doing but not be playing the same exact riff which is good because it adds some great dynamics. Also Gabe (Drums) writes some insanely complicated beats on drums and we’ll work around those parts and Bobby and I will add some riffs that we add. And after we have a basic skeleton we’ll dissect it and take it apart and make time signatures weird and slow certain parts down and speed certain parts up. Make it a little bit confusing a little bit more creative and over time over a period of a week or two we’ll butcher it some more, then the last step is adding vocals to it and we’ll all decide what parts to sing.”

Beware of The Locust, their music will challenge and dare most people to rethink their concepts of what songs should sound like. Most importantly, The Locust are composing songs of the future and Plague Soundscapes is the vessel they are using to slowly bring in the fans from the conventional crowds.

the locust
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Done in June of 2003, without having a home I figured I’d post here and as such I haven’t changed anything from the original, just added this little footnote. Justin Pearson was one of my very first interviews for themusicedge, which is hilarious considering how conservative the parent company of the site was and is and the kind of ‘obscene’ content The Locust always get lambasted about. At a later time some ‘concerned’ perpetual meddler wanted me to take down the article, luckily I stuck it out and provided a compelling argument to the suits that if our ultimate job was to inspire young people to create music then who are we to sensor what kind of music is created? I also thought it fitting for a first feature, especially after my dour interview with Taboo from The Black Eyed Peas who had, at the time, just added Fergie to the group. Justin is one of the few people, aside from Ben Koller (Converge, Cave In) who supported the basic tenants of that site from the beginning and has always made himself available for interview(s) and linked to whatever it was I happened to be working on at the time. He suffers from being incredibly likeable, maybe that’s why I think of him as an artist more than I think of him as a musician. Maybe I’m just full of shit too. He’s doing a post called “From the Graveyard of the Arousal Industry” for HYPEzine.com. Its a tour diary.