The Locust Is Bringing Musical Poetry to Dallas for the First Time in 11 Years

That's one way to avoid getting recognized. The Locust is often misunderstood. They're not making noise music, but poetry.EXPAND
That's one way to avoid getting recognized. The Locust is often misunderstood. They're not making noise music, but poetry.
Scott Smallin
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Justin Pearson is a busy man, with four part-time, active bands. One of these bands is the notoriously enigmatic and oft-misunderstood noise-rock band The Locust, in which Pearson sings and plays bass. The group is playing three Texas dates in addition to its first show in five years, which was at the Desert Dayz Festival in California on Oct. 11.

Dallas — a city the band has not played since a show at The Door with Poison the Well and Dance Gavin Dance in January 2008 — will be the first of those Texas dates, on Tuesday, Oct. 29 at Gas Monkey Bar N’ Grill.

“The three shows in Texas makes sense,” Pearson says. “It's kind of like going and playing like three shows around New York or Philly. Also, Halloween is like a big deal to a lot of people. It seemed like something that we would like to do.”

In addition to working on some new material, which may or may not be ready in time for the group's new tour, Locust has been doing a lot of rehearsing, going over notations and figuring out how to make their old stuff sound the same with their new gear.

“Our pedal board changed and there's a couple of missing pieces,” Pearson says. “We've just grown with our instruments, so it’s coming out in a more modern way —  a better way. I can look back at some of the material and I'm like, ‘Geez, what the fuck are we doing?’ My bass sound was shitty, that effect was stupid, my vocals sounded dumb and I can't believe I wrote lyrics with poor phrasing.”

Pearson's intent in his retrospective analysis doesn't come across as an attempt to obsess over the technical aspects of The Locust’s music, but rather to illustrate that — especially for a band that sounds like a chaotic swarm of the very same insects from which they get their name — there is a lot more going on than a casual listener might immediately pick up on.

“That concept is somewhat of a musical poem,” Pearson says of the group's style. “Someone like my mom would say it all sounds like noise, but for us it's, it's redefining like the way that people hear certain tones that are not traditionally musical. You can start with a discordant chord, then someone will play something else on top of that, and then you get this sound that is unsettling. It might not be ‘nice.’ It’s just what we’ve become comfortable with writing.”

Pearson doesn’t like to talk genres. The internet will bring up categories like grindcore, powerviolence, art-punk and noise rock, but Pearson finds it all irrelevant to what the band is trying to achieve.

“Noise I guess fits,” he says, ”and rock, I guess there's elements of rock. And art-punk, I mean, I guess it's artistic. I jokingly just use the term ‘annoying.’”

And for some, the latter might be true. The Locust’s music is not for everyone, but it wouldn’t be right to describe it as deliberately exclusive to any particular group of people.

“We’re not trying to be exclusive to anyone,” Pearson explains. “We’re trying to include whoever is open to it  —whoever is willing to branch out and experience something different. There's been countless shows where we would be playing to some weird 75-year-old jazz player that's there because somehow he stumbled upon what we were doing and thought it was interesting. Or there's a 12-year-old girl there that's studying art and like somehow figured out that we were even planning a show. That's pretty rad that we can go from like 12 to 75 and fill in all the gaps in between.”

Whether or not the new material will make it to the live set, The Locust will be debuting new outfits in the near future. At this point, Pearson cannot say whether any more tour dates will be announced, but with the promise of new sounds, new songs and new uniforms, one can only suspect that there's plenty more in store.

“I don't know what to expect,” Pearson says. “I'm glad that I don't ever have that kind of expectation, 'cause then I don't necessarily get let down. I don't know what to expect from everything. But so far, the response has been really great, and I appreciate the enthusiasm that people have towards the band playing again. I’ll just leave it at that.”

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