Thanks to Scott McKeating for the great questions.
There's a link to the interview here.
by Scott McKeating
Chicago’s Locrian have just dropped their first vinyl LP, “Territories”, and it’s a split release across 4 excellent labels – any of which alone would be a strong enough indicator of the records quality. With guest appearances from Andrew Scherer (Velnias), Mark Solotroff (Bloodyminded), Bruce Lamont (Yakuza), and Blake Judd (Nachtmystium), this moves away from their drone source and into a more black metallicised and noisier ‘territory’.
Can you sum up Locrian with a current genre tag for the real lazy bastards out there?
Terence: I call it obsidian-gaze.
You’ve got links to Bloodyminded, but where they come across as in extremis you guys seem a little more mysterious?
André: We’ve been friends with Mark Solotroff for just about as long as we’ve been playing together. I guess we initially played with Bloodyminded and then we played on some of Mark's shows. He’s been really supportive of us and we’re really big fans of the stuff that he does now and the stuff he did before we were friends with him.
Terence: That is good that it is mysterious, even if slightly. Good.
What’s your relationship with black metal as ...as a style?
André: I generally like black metal as a style a lot of the time (when it's done well), but I can’t think of anyone that we’re directly influenced by. I grew up in northern NY state, on the boarder with Quebec and a lot of the music that influenced me in my development was hardcore music that bore a lot of similarities to black metal, though I’m not sure that the music that I listened to at the time evolved in response to black metal. I tend to think that this music developed in parallel evolution to the black metal that was coming out of Europe at the time rather than from any direct black metal influence.
Generally though, I don’t listen to much black metal. As with any style, there are people that do it well and people who don't. I like groups that are doing really creative stuff with the genre, like Menace Ruine, but at the same time there are some groups that are doing things musically that I'm interested in, but that I can't listen to because I can't really get into the message behind it.
Terence: I do, I would definitely say that first Abruptum was a pretty big epiphany for me, or how intense Emperor's In the Nightside Eclipse is with the keyboards.
André: I really don't own much black metal. I try to keep my belongings to a minimum so I really try to keep my music collection to a minimum.
Terence: I have really enjoyed the new Ruins of Beverast, Skagos and other things.
André: If you mean black metal releases as objects, then I think that it's interesting what some black metal bands are doing lately in order to remain 'kvlt' and different from more wider known black metal bands. In a lot of black metal, there's this emphasis on individuality, anonymity, and not-being-like-everyone-else. I'm interesting in how these ideas come across in different black metal releases. There are a few current black metal bands that I'm familiar with that only release music on tapes. The reason behind this, I think, is to reinforce this idea of the inaccessibility of their music.
...as an ideology?
Terence: We're not satanists, or even trying to push any of those cliched buttons. I would say sonically we're very negative and we seek to generate a lot of that blackened aura around what we do. There are a lot of black metal bands who do that well, but there are also a lot of 'kosmiche' bands who can do that as well.
André: These are big questions and ones that I could write extensively about. I like a lot of themes that pop up in some black metal. I don't know if there's any one ideology. You have all of these flows between different scenes, perhaps you could call these ideoscapes. Some of the ideoscapes I'm interested in: an emphasis/worship of nature; prophecies of the future; and the bleak outlook of the world that's typical of a lot of black metal.
I'm not really interested in black metal bands that utilize satanic themes since it seems pointless to me to write another song about satanism, paganism, or religion. I just find those topics to be really overemphasized in metal in general although I'm sure that these themes are important to some people, not me though. On the other hand, I'm not interested in artists who incorporate ideas about race or nationalism into their music. For instance, I liked Akitsa musically until I read an interview with them and found out about their Quebecois nationalist stance. It would be a longer conversation if we wanted to analyze why nationalism and race pop up so much in black metal, and the noise scene.
I'm also really bored with the fetishization of Norwegian black metal, specifically the hate crimes that were related to this scene in the 1980s. I think that all of the scholars, journalists, and fans have really exoticized the black metal culture in that area which has added to misunderstading of the issues fueling the violence of that era.
Terence: I think having been involved in such politically polemic scenes with hardcore I just because so skeptical of bands whose definition is around some certain ideology, it all reminds me of either a youth group or horrible young republicans gathering, where like you're supposed to forgive the unoriginality and horrid logic because of a supposed shared ideal.
André: Black metal to me is also interesting as an identity. It was great playing with Horna recently because we got to share a dressing room with them. Not that we usually get a dressing room, but they were these pretty normal metal dudes until about an hour before they played and they asked us to leave the dressing room. The venue put all the free beer for the bands in the dressing room and all the bands got sick of waiting for the beer so I politely asked them if I could come in the dressing room on the premise that I closed my eyes. So I ran in there and grabbed a bunch of beer, but the entire time I had my hands over my eyes with my fingers split so that I could see what was going on which was interesting: all these kind of macho dudes putting on each other's corpse pant. Apparently, they got really mad at some of the other band members who were supposed to be able to use the dressing room and it essentially came down to the fact that there's this liminal stage between when someone in a black metal band is a normal dude and when they are their alter-ego (not that all black metal bands have this alter-ego). It was really embarrassing for these dudes to show themselves to anyone in their liminal stage because of its inherent ambiguities: each person isn't really in their normal state, but they're not in their full corpse paint state either.
The promoters gave us food for that show too, so it was interesting to watch these dudes in corpse paint eating Doritos afterward.One of our friends got some cool secret pictures of those dudes doing that.
Also, it's interesting how far some of these black metal bands go in order to repulse people. Back to the Horna show we played, Horna and another band utilized rotting pig heads as part of their performance. These guys weren't getting a new pig head every night of the tour, they just put the rotting head in a garbage bag and left with it afterwards. I can't imagine having to ride in a van for two weeks with the same rotting pig head. I mean, some of these guys really make this idea of repulsion a part of their identity and they have to suffer for it.Of course, I'm just using Horna as an example, since there are other bands out there that are very similar.
Do you work on a release with a particular idea/concept in mind? Do the titles reflect what you were working towards or what you give birth to?
André: I think it’s different at different times.
In general though, we work really intuitively so it's usually a surprise what will come out.
Did Territories come together by accident in increments or was it something you were looking to work on as a project?
André: After we recorded Drenched Lands in July 2007, we started collaborating with Andrew Scherer quite frequently in our live performances—probably from September 2008 until early 2009. Unlike many noise musicians, we really haven’t collaborated with anyone else until we started working with Andrew from Velnias on drums. When we recorded “Territories” we had been performing with Andrew for a few months. We knew we wanted to record something with him and we had some other people that we wanted to collaborate with. We essentially had about two song ideas before we recorded that album.
We’d been fans of Mark’s work in his multiple projects and we knew we wanted to bring him into the studio for a collaboration. We essentially just recorded as much as we could for about two days and at the end we were able to convince our friend Bruce Lamont to come in to do some saxophone stuff and Blake came in at the end to record some guitar parts. For a while we weren’t sure that we were going to release it because it was really hell to record. We recorded it in January 2009 and we left with some rough mixes, but the mixes sounded so fucked up that we just wanted to scrap the sessions. It was probably in April or May that we finally got around to mixing this album and we ended up being pretty happy with it at the end.
Most of the stuff on the album is entirely improvised. When we recorded it we figured that we would just pick through later and put together like puzzle pieces.
Terence: In the end it really came together and had a certain flow from the harsh beginnings through ambient passages toward the more metal sections. It felt a lot like King Crimson's Islands to us so we wanted to pay homage to their massive influence over us through the title and some of the artwork, ours being more earth bound and decay laden of course.
-- Scott McKeating (7 April, 2010)