André and Terence from the band Locrian played Public Assembly, July 5th as part of A Show No Mercy Pitchfork Metal curated show with Anal Cunt, Fuck the Facts, Gwynbleidd and Copremesis. We had been emailing back and forth about getting together for an interview after the show to talk for a minute, after they sent me a few of their singles months back. It was dark, plodding, really heavy.
There's always that little bit of doubt in the back of your mind when the music is so menacing that you could be meeting in alley with a couple of maniacs, but of course they ended up being really nice couple of super nice guys who have an insane amount of music knowledge, and they even passed up some karaoke to talk with me the day after the 4th of July.
7Inches: So did you guys come from a visual arts or more of a musical background?
Terence: It's kind of both, when we were younger we both played in bands. Both of us had a big interest in prog and metal when we were young and I think hardcore in the 90's was kind of like the one place you could maybe not be a guitar genius or have lots of money for good equipment and get away with it and play some kind of metal. But we went to school for really weird stuff. André has a masters in anthropology and I have an bachelors in religion and philosophy and an then I got an MFA. We met through a mutual friend going to school at the Art Institute (of Chicago). And he was like the only guy there who was not ironically into metal and hardcore.
7Inches: So you met in Chicago while going to school?
André: Yea I went to the University of Chicago.
7Inches: Did you start right out playing this experimental ambient metal or has it evolved?
Terence: That friend that I went to school with was in a band with André. I'm in a band with my wife, and we were looking for a cellist, Kelly (André's wife) plays the cello so we were talking to her and then André came and he plays a thousand instruments so we started the band as a 4 piece and then an opportunity arose. Andre and I always talked bout Hardcore and Heavy Metal, Brian Eno and Robert Fripp, all this stuff we really liked and we wanted to try something more aggressive then the quartet.
7Inches: So Locrian existed as a kind of string quartet in the beginning?
André: No, that was Unlucky Atlas, my old metal band was offered a show I couldn't do it. I was like 'I kind of want to do this show', I felt like I wanted to play music out more, I was finished with my grad school, so I asked Terence, 'You want to do an noise thing?' A week before I saw this band Number None play at the Empty Bottle and I was really impressed. They were like a drone duo and I thought we could do some noisier kind of stuff. We just didn't really think about it much and then we were like oh shit we gotta think of a name for this project and Kelly said 'Oh you should call it Locrian', so that was it, sounds good. So we played this show and we thought maybe people are going to hate this. Basically we got paid in these huge drinks, so we were both kind of wasted. We had like a cymbal that Terence brought and some people in the audience ended up playing it and that turned into our first recording 'Setting Yr. Jetta on fire' which actually turned out pretty well for only playing together for a week.
Terence: But then when we played with Bloodyminded for the first time, Mark Solotroff was always really encouraging, he kind of got it, what we were trying to do.
André: He used to play in this band, Intrinsic Action, which were a really seminal kind of early power electronics group, he used to live in NY for a while, he worked at Bleeker Bobs.
Terence: He has really broad taste, we played this show with him, cause I was a fan of Bloody Minded and what Mark was doing with his label... he was putting out like a lot of the stuff out of Michigan like Charlie Draheim and a lot of the Wolf Eyes guys solo projects. I saw the connection between the noise I was into and power electronics and all that stuff so we thought, 'Lets play with him', from there he's always put us on good shows and released our seven inch and just put out an LP for us. That's the 7" you reviewed actually. The Plague journal 7".
7Inches: You guys played at Lucky Chengs last night, the drag cabaret bar in the east village, how did that go?
Terence: It was awesome, we had a great time, it was a good turnout, interesting bill. Lussuria was like dark ambient, Sleep Museum is on the same label, BloodLust!, we were just excited to play with them, we asked to have them play and Robert was great. Sean from Martial Canterel came out.
André: Alan Dubin came out from Khanate he's a super nice dude.
Terence: It was great, really fun, really low key, crazy atmosphere.
André: People apparently wanted an encore...and we were like really?
Terence: We never had that before.
André: I don't think you want an encore. We played and then we were like oh shit...
Terence: It was good, we were going to do that set tonight but I'm happy we did the set we did.
André: We had like a more metal set, kind of like the second track on Drenched Lands, but then we were said 'Let's just do what we're doing now, maybe we'll get heckled.'
7Inches: I loved the visual aspect of the show, it was unexpected and definitely adds to the overwhelming sound having that haze from the smoke machines and candles everywhere.
Terence: Yea I don't think we're that interesting to look at, so you've got to obscure it somehow.
Photo: Lenny Gilmore
7Inches: So how did you end up on this bill?
Terence: We had a booking agent, she kind of started the conversation and we were just followed up.
André: Originally it was supposed to be with Gnaw, Alan Dubin from Khanate, his new band. We said 'Hey Alan we'd love to play this show', because I guess it was up to him. He liked it, but he didn't end up playing tonight unfortunately.
Terence: They ended up going on tour or something...
André: Brandon apparently has a bunch of friends that are my friends
André: We went to the same college and he knows a lot of my friends and we apparently didn't know each other. Buffalo's really not that big for us to not know each other....
Terence: But he kind of had similar interests in metal and noise so he kind of knew where we were coming from and put together a fucking weird bill.
André: The same really dynamic bands...Similar to our Lucky Cheng’s show because really every group was different from each other.
7Inches: It's interesting to see all these bands together, exposing people to maybe some new stuff they wouldn't otherwise hear, including you guys, in the mix. What's your process for writing your material?
Terence: Playing live...the transitions, we know the sections, the four sections, so we know where the next movement is going to be, we don't know when...we kind of look at each other and we kind of feel, 'Alright he's moving into this other part and then I'll bring this down'. It's very intuitive, it can suck if we intuit incorrectly, or if we have weird equipment fuckups which happen quite a bit especially on my end.
7Inches: Yea, you guys have a lot of equipment piled around the stage.
Terence: I use a lot of analog stuff that loves to not work some days.
7Inches: Did I see a reel to reel?
Terence: Yea I use a reel to reel.
7Inches: What's on the tape?
Terence: It's some synth sounds but it has this nice tone that I can bring in and out and then adjust this other tone to make it sound like static or this weird tremelo and I'm running it thought this amp that kind of overdrives it. It's got this nice visceral quality.
André: It's got this nice warm tone that you can only get from analog.
Terence: And I use a four track so that has like 4 other sounds running.
7Inches: I think that's the great thing with that hands on analog approach is the performance part is better as opposed to the guy-with-a-laptop.
Terence: Yea, you have to be paying attention to what's happening, I mean obviously laptops can crap out and cause a lot of issues, but the analog stuff you have to be very sensitive. We've played a lot of shows where we show up and something doesn't work and we have to go and figure that out. Suddenly a tape doesn't work or a synth is not wanting to tune...
Photo: Lenny Gilmore
7Inches: So did you already have the tracks you were going to put on the Bloodlust single recorded? Did you record them specifically for that release because of the limitations in length with the format?
Terence: We had played it before live, it was something that we would talk about, we knew we had the Plague Journals side, and then I think the more we improvised the B-Side we used the studio more, I used like an oscillator I found there.
André: I used like a space echo which was this big analog tape delay. The first track we developed right before we played a show at the MCA in Chicago, it was a drone series that Terence organized because he was an artist in the 12x12 series and he did a video of Sunn O))). He had a drone series where Lichens who is Rob Lowe who's played in the 90 day men, and TV on the Radio collaborator, played. Bird Show played who are Town and Country, bunch of stuff. White Light played, our good friend Jeremy Lemos’ band.
Terence: He recorded the 7" actually, he's working for Sonic Youth right now, he does all their monitors I guess.
7Inches: I was wondering about the recording process, if you are involved with the mastering side? Where do you go after the basic track is recorded?
Terence: Most labels don't care how it gets done. I mean it's kind of on you, if you can do it yourself it's cool, you know if it sounds what they think is quality. We love working with Jeremy, we just actually collaborated with him cause when we recorded with him he also recorded Unlucky Atlas, we always feel like he's kind of a member of the band, he's pretty honest.
André: He'll tell you if something sucks.
Terence: Yea, which we really appreciate. And then he'll also be like why don't you try it through this speaker and this amp or try this pedal?
André: He has a lot of ideas.
Terence: We like that.
André: The next time we do a full length we'd love to do it with Jeremy, because he knows where we're coming from
7Inches: So do you guys have vinyl collections of your own?
Terence: I do
7Inches: Is that what led you to release this on the 7" format? I noticed you have cassettes..., all kinds of formats.
Terence: I think that there's just...If you know the hardcore background, punk scene you always bought vinyl. My dad gave me his record collection, so I have this crazy record collection. I love the 7" and LP. The artwork is beautiful, it should be, this engaging thing. And with vinyl you can do so much with the format, you can do colored vinyl, locked grooves...all this interesting stuff. I think in our day and age a CD is just how you transfer something to your computer, very few CD's are objects you engage with, you know spend time with. We try though, like with the Drenched Lands CD it's like an interesting object, it comes in this nice packaging. And we love the 3" too, it's very obsolete media.
André: You have to have this certain type of....you have to think about when you want to play it. Although I guess you can just rip it to your computer and put it on your Ipod. Every format has its own interesting peculiarities, like with the 7", we like that because you actually have to take it out, put that on the record player and put the needle down and then flip it over, it's only like 6 minutes long, so you have to engage with that to a certain extent. It makes whoever is listening to that feel less alienated from what we're playing...of course they're only 300 so...
7Inches: There's the limited idea of this artifact and for me also and that I have music ADD, I can only pay attention sometimes for one song at a time...I noticed the split with Katchmare sleeve is printed really nice, offset, embossed with metallic inks...did you have anything to do with that?
Terence: That was Nick who does Katchmare. “Plague Journal” was part of the series that Bloodlust does, it was a private 7" series...there actually was a shortage of white vinyl, so he stopped the series. I think he did one or two more after ours. It's great, it has Aaron Dilloway, Prurient, Charlie Draheim...
André: Red Rot, all these people we really respect.
7Inches: And you were a part of that series. That's great.
Terence: Yea we were really honored to be a part of it.
7Inches: You have more dates coming up?
Terence: Tomorrow's DC, Richmond is Tuesday.
Terence: and Teething Veils, Greg's band, our friend. When we play DC we always play with this guy Greg Svitil, he has this band called the Antiques, Teething veils is his solo project is really tripped out, reverbed, slow acoustic guitars.
André: Really pretty. It's at the Velvet Lounge
Terence: Then we're in Richmond at Nara Sushi
André: they got this guy Wrnlrd to play, a rare appearance, he doesn't play out much at all. So we're excited about that.
Terence: Baltimore with The New flesh...really raw nasty rock, they're cool they run this label, they put out a solo tape of mine. I saw them in Chicago and they were phenomenal.
7Inches: What’s your solo project?
Terence: T. Hannum, then we play Philly. That's going to be interesting, We play with T.O.M.B., this black metal band called Woe, God Willing and Panther Modern, then we're in Pittsburg with Requiem, then Columbus, and that's where begin the rest of the tour with the Human Quena Orchestra.
André: They're from San Francisco, really dark...industrial, metallic with some kind of screaming
Terence: Bleak, it's heavy. They're kind of like old hardcore guys too, they were in this band Creation is Crucifiction, we're pretty excited. They're pretty left wing, with their politics. It's nice to have a band we can agree with on a lot of stuff. Then it's Dayton, OH with Envenomist.
André: And then we end it in Chicago at the Empty Bottle with Human Quena Orchestra,and then our friend Mark Solotroff from Bloodyminded, his brand new project called Anatomy of Habit, which we don't know what its going to sound like. Mark's actually singing instead of being crazy-shirts-off-screaming and scaring people and then its got two guys who were in his old band Animal Law, playing with one guy who plays drums; Dylan Posa, he was in the Flying Luttenbachers and Cheer Accident and this other guy who’s going to play metal percussion.
Terence: Blake, he does Vertonen, like a synth noise band.
André: Then the other guy is from Plague Bringer which is like a grind metal band. I don't think its going to sound like any of their projects it's going to be good.
Terence: Their old band sounded like Bodychoke, or like Swans, early swans, really slow plodding, heavy, intense, I love that stuff so I always excited to play with those guys.
7Inches: The lighting seems like an important element, how has that worked at different venues so far? You guys have your own smoke machine?
Terence: ...and candles and incense. Sometimes at a small venue it works really well because we can fill the space, no one can see us, we're all backlit.
André: I guess ideally, I don't know what we look like from the front but we were hoping to just be silhouettes.
Terence: We've only been doing that like a little while, before that we're just like two nerdy dudes with pedals. Then I saw this video of Neu! and I was like 'They have smoke machines! Sunn O))) doesn't own this shit!”
Photo: Scott Kaplan
They definitely don't...I'm so glad these guys got me into their particular drone experimental metal, they put on a great show, go catch them if they come around.
They mentioned a bunch of releases, LP's cassettes, solo projects, all of which can be found on their blog.