SAFETY SECOND, BODY LAST
The Locust’s beauty has always come in finesse and intricacy. Thirty seconds of pitiless hurricane squall. Epic, labyrinthine guitar licks deconstructed, flipped ass-backwards, and compressed into two-second-long baby snake squiggles. Dainty ticka-ticka-tickas of hummingbird cymbal taps, followed by 80 hammer smacks squeezed into a heartbeat. But just as America has changed since The Locust hatched back in ‘95, so it goes with their sound. The band’s 2003 Anti- debut, Plague Soundscapes, took its half-minute killzaps and added a gurgling, hissing swamp of electronics. And their new one, Ipecac’s Safety Second, Body Last (produced by Alex Newport) goes even further.
It is a single 10 minute, 11 second track divided into four movements, like classical music (though classical as composed by serial murder-junkie Ed Gein in cahoots with The Residents.) It begins in a hellbroth of twitchy nerves par for the course of the band’s older stuff. But suddenly it stops and you’re dropped into a tossing, churning primordial sea of ominous splerrks, oscillating blits, and liquidic rrerks sputtered out of Joey Karam’s keyboard—before the vocals and Gabe Serbian’s drums come on again... only this time slow. Pained. Agonized. Like a woolly mammoth caught knee-deep in a tar pit.
From there, the track moves through a miniseries of stages: slow and sludgy to the fastest, herkiest jerkiest splatters you’ve ever heard; JP’s bass making spacebrain noises; keyboards sputtering like blood spurting and sloshing out of bullet-holes; guitars revving like chainsaws or e-bowing themselves into the gorgeous, ear-massaging sound of a mosquito’s lost cell-phone ringing at the bottom of lake WhatTheFucki.
The lyrics flay through a surrealistic landscape touching down on man’s need to compartmentalize his culture, gun-happy Americans, with a whole host of characters showing up—fools, barbarians, troglodytes, sonic cannibals. “Which one are you?” the record asks. “Whose side you on?”
But what does the music itself say? "The electromagnetic force has something to say, not 100% sure what it is yet,” says Bobby. “But until then, we (as a band) are going to allow for as many oscillators, potentiometers, jagged tempo and note changes as it takes to allow its message to be heard. In addition to that, on this EP we are allocating time for contrast in the form of thick, developed sub-range tones as well as primaly pleasing higher range frequencies as a homage to the full spectrum of human hearing as a sense."
So, a new EP. New excursions into sound. But some things haven’t changed. The band still refuses to play anything but all-ages shows. Also, Clear Channel is still dead set in their rifle sites. (They call for a boycott and follow up on their end, by not playing Clear Channel shows, no matter how incredible the line-up.)
As says Bobby, "Turning down shows with our friends the Yeah Yeah Yeahs or Fantomas at the Fillmore isn’t the easiest thing to do, but instead of it being a thorn in our side, it’s more like an early coffin nail for Clear Channel."
And when The Locust is hammering said nails, rest assured they’re using the nastiest nailgun you ever saw.