The Locust

By Troy Johnson

The slashed tires, the mace, the large groups of people trying to kill them...

“There was a huge bang. [My assistant] opens the door and there's all this smoke coming through,” says Justin Pearson, bassist/vocalist for local hardcore punk band, the Locust.

After returning from their two-month “Oops the Tour,” Pearson was looking to return to the relative sanity of running his record label, Three One G.

Or not.

“All this shit just exploded on our front door—just like black tar, and a shoe.”

On instinct, Pearson bolted outside to catch the perp. He spotted a van with a hitched trailer, suggesting it was another band. After failing to catch the van on foot, Pearson hopped in his car and gave chase. He caught up with the van at a stoplight near downtown San Diego.

“I was looking for something in the car to hit them with-a bat or something just in case it went that way. I didn't have anything, so I ran up to the window, and I'm going, ‘What the fuck?! Why'd you just throw shit at my door?'”

Pearson attempted a leaping kick through the driver's side window. They were laughing at him, Pearson says, and the passenger was filming the episode. As they attempted to roll up the window, Pearson grabbed ahold.

The window couldn't take the strain, however. It shattered, and Pearson fell to the street. Bloodied a bit, he got back into his car and returned home, where he discovered the exploding black mess was a stack of fireworks. Amidst the rubble he found proof it was indeed another band.

“Amidst all the burnt stuff there was a shitload of fireworks, and a demo,” he says in disbelief. “They left us a demo, which is pretty funny. [The music] was actually pretty shitty.

“They were filming me breaking their window, so I'm sure they filmed themselves throwing shit at our house. I'd really like to see that footage.”

Pearson says it's commonplace for people to drive by and yell, “Fuck the Locust!” At the band's shows, it's not much different. Pearson recalls breaking someone's nose with his forehead mid-song, having beer bottles broken over his head, plus being pelted with bananas and random food.

After an “Oops the Tour” gig, they discovered one of their tires had been slashed “That's just fucking bullshit,” he says. “The funny thing is, they only slashed one tire. If I was going to fuck with someone, I'd slash all of their tires and make sure they missed their next show.

“It kinda gets hostile,” he says of their shows. “It's usually when we go on tour across the country that we have issues. It usually starts with someone in the crowd yelling dumb shit that's homophobic or unintelligible. So we'll talk shit back to them, and make them feel like an asshole.

“So their friends will start talking, and they'll start fucking with us. And I guess everyone picks up on that, and they feel like that's the thing to do-go to a show and fuck with the Locust. If you're playing a two-month tour, it can get old.”

Yet it's the insanity of their live set and the abrasive, all-out aural assault of their under-a-minute-long songs that has won them both enemies and friends. Among friends, count Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr. Bungle), who will release their EP later this year on his Ipecac Records. Also, Bad Religion guitarist and Epitaph Records owner Brett Gurewitz, who will release their next full-length on Epitaph subsidiary, Anti- (the label of Merle Haggard, Promise Ring, and new signee, Nick Cave).

So their success is harshly double-edged. I guess that's why Pearson initially disguised himself when I called.

“I never know who it is that's calling me,” he admitted, sounding not quite paranoid, but cautious.