Our effect on the Earth has been, undoubtedly, a damaging one, and our actions will bring about our own destruction. These painful facts are what drive Locrian’s newest record, Infinite Dissolution. The Chicago/Baltimore-based experimentalists’ follow-up to the well-received Return to Annihilation, forces the listener to confront the harsh realities of our planet’s current state through its poignant lyricism and expansive soundscapes. The record is one of the more thought-provoking and forward-thinking releases of the year. American Aftermath caught up with the band to discuss the new album and the inevitable end of our species.
[photo by Jimmy Hubbard]
Could you please introduce yourselves and your roles in Locrian?
André: I mostly play guitar.
Terence: I scream and play synthesizers
Steven: I play drums.
First and foremost, this year marks the tenth anniversary of the band. How have these past 10 years shaped the band and yourselves as musicians?
André: I have a bigger base now. I realize how little I knew 10 years ago.
Terence: I feel more confident; I kind of know my bandmates better. I think I can listen better too to ideas.
Steven: I feel that I’m a better listener as well. I’ve refined my technique and approach to playing (within this group) over the course of the past 3-4 years. It’s been a great learning process.
This year also sees the release of your new full-length, Infinite Dissolution. What can you tell us about the writing and recording process this time around? How would you compare it sonically to its predecessor, Return to Annihilation?
André: I think of each of our albums sui generis—each one is different musically and conceptually. The writing took play primarily over a few days, but the development of the mixes and layers took longer, which helped to make the album stronger. We had time to reflect on our ideas before we finalized them.
Terence: I agree, each record is trying to tell a different story. This record we spent more time sharing ideas, building up the sequence, and trying new things. We had more time. Recording with Greg Norman was also exciting; he’s been helming a few records for us and other projects so he knows how we work. I would say the themes are different between Return to Annihilation and Infinite Dissolution. One is more a double helix about the earth changing and the other, Infinite Dissolution is about our eventual extinction.
Steven: Yeah, each record is it’s own – sonically and content, but as far as writing; we had time to come up with a solid idea, and the time to past ideas back and fourth to each other before heading into the studio. Sonically: working with Greg over the past few years has been a big help. He does know our sound and has watched us develop over the years, so I think he knew when and where to push us and to help shape some of the sounds, recording wise. We have some better gear now as well, which is helpful.
Lyrically and thematically, the album deals with the extinction of mankind. In an interview with Noisey, it was mentioned that the album is partially inspired by Elizabeth Kolbert’s “The Sixth Extinction”. What aspects of Kolbert’s work inspired the album?
André: Kolbert’s work is basically just making an argument that life on this planet is going through the sixth major extinction right now as a result of humans and she makes her argument clear so that a general reader can understand it.
I hope that the material can inspire people to start to have conversations about the topic and begin to work to come up with ways of responding to this crisis. It’s a small contribution.
Terence: Her book was chilling. Her approach though and how she threw herself into this research was inspiring. It’s hard not to be taken aback by what she finds when she talks about ocean acidification or the frog sanctuary. I think by her being so clear it sounded like she was talking about another planet. Not our own. To me that was inspiring.
In addition to those found in “The Sixth Extinction”, does the album present scenarios that you, the band, have pondered?
André: Of course. Our civilization is radically changing the environment due to our way of life. We’re like the parable of the boiled frog. It’s an anecdotal idea of a frog being slowly boiled alive. If a frog is placed in boiling water, it would jump out, but if it’s placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will not perceive the danger of being cooked to death. Civilization is like the boiled frog.
The only way for us to get out of this bind is to start talking about these issues.
Terence: I am maybe more pessimistic, I think so much damage has been done. Reading the Sixth extinction just justified it, made it make sense gave a face to what was happening. You can see with species being introduced and habitats being reduced there are going to be effects that echo out. I’ve certainly pondered it but here it was clear.
Steven: Yes, it’s hard not to, right? We have done so much damage to the earth and atmosphere over the past, let’s say, century, that there is so much of it that’s irreversible. The damage is done. Species have been eliminated, reduced, mutated, or wiped out completely. I’m not going to say it’s 100% the fault of the human race, but we’re guilty of helping speed up that unfortunate process. The human race will be long paying for our carelessness and greed, one way or another. Talking about and taking some sort of action is what needed. I agree with Terence that “The Sixth Extinction” just made it make a little more sense and gave it a face. I highly recommend reading it.
In what ways do you feel the music of Infinite Dissolution compliments its lyrical nature, or vice versa?
Terence: I think we’re trying to set up these scenarios about specific extinction events or resource development, such as in KXL I, II and III that the lyrics are important but the music does most of the work. The lyrics can give some guideposts to what we’re discussing, but so can the sonic space. The lyrics are a part of it.
How does the artwork tie into the album thematically?
Terence: I’ve long been a big fan of David Altmejd’s work and it just kept coming up, we were looking at it, and it is this impossibly reflective surface, you can miss the hammer strokes in the mirror. To me that is a bit what we’re discussing, being infinitely dissolved where we can no longer see ourselves or our mark. We become ahistorical, we think history ends with us.
What’s next for Locrian in the near future?
Steven: We have some east-coast dates lined up in September, which includes a show down in Raleigh in conjunction with Hopscotch Festival. We’ll also be heading to Europe in early 2016. November we will be celebrating Locrian’s 10th anniversary, so we’ll be putting together a night of music and art for fans and friends. We will perform, as will some longtime friends and supporters. More info on that event in the coming month or so.
We are also going to record a cover song in November for a forthcoming 12” release. We’ll be playing it live during our September shows, so come to the shows if you want to hear what song it is.
Final question: Do you hold out any hope for mankind?
André: Environmental issues are bleak, but I have a lot of hope. I wouldn’t make this contribution if I didn’t have hope.
Terence: Yes and no. I’m a father, so for my kids, I hope so. I think they are more educated about the earth and how we are changing it. But I also think in the end, the best thing for the planet is probably for us to go extinct and then move on. It’s happened before, and we’re here now. It will more than likely happen again and we’ll either adapt or expire.
Steven: Yes, I have hope.
Thanks for taking the time to do this. Take care.
André: Thanks for talking with us and taking an interest.
Terence: Thank you.
Steven: Thank you!
Infinite Dissolution is available now via Relapse Records.