שיחת רפש // ראיון עם טרנס האנום (Locrian)

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*Note: The English text of the interview with Locrian's Terence Hannum follows the Hebrew introduction. Thanks.

ייקח לי קצת זמן להבין איך מאזנים את הדירה השכורה הקטנה שלי פה עם הדירה השכורה היקרה יותר עם הדורמן ב״הארץ״, אבל בכל מקרה בא לי להמשיך לפרסם גם פה, וחלק יעבור עיבוד ויילך לשם. בכל מקרה, אין לי ממש כוח לחשוב על זה, אז הנה אני לא חושב על זה.

מה שכן חשוב, הוא, נגיד, Locrian. להקה מרתקת, באמת, שמעטות מרתקות כמוה היום, שפועלת על התפר בין עולם הפוסט-שקרכלשהוא, או סתם פוסט-רוק ופוסט מטאל לשכן קרוב בשם מוזיקה ניסיונית/פרוגרסיבית/רחמנן ליצלן אשכרה קראוט רוק וחלומות בגרמנית. נוסדו בשיקגו ב-2005 ע״י טרנס האנום ואנדרה פויסי והחלו תוך שניה בערך להפגיז מוזיקה בקצב מדהים באיכותו ובכמותו. ב-2010 הקצב הרצחני הואט והתווסף מתופף במשרה מלאה, שד מוכשר ומדהים בשם סטיבן הס.

ואז מה שקרה, במקרה או שלא, שההרכב הכ״כ יצירתי ופורה הזה הפך למפלצת, קצת האלבומים הואט, עם אחד ב-2010 ועוד אחד ב-2011, וגולת הכותרת, מבחינתי, לא כולל שלל שיתופי הפעולה של החברים, כשהבולטים בהם היו עם Horseback האגדיים ו-Mamiffer, מיודענו, הייתה האלבום Return to Annahilation המופתי שיצא ב-2013 ופשוט הראה להקה מוכשרת, יצירתית, ומרחיבת אופקים פועלת בשיא הביטחון. ממש פלא של דבר.

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אז תפסתי לי את מר האנום, שהוא גם אמן ומעצב מוכשר לא פחות, שעבוד גם כמרצה לאמנות בבולטימור, לשיחה וירטואלית ומעניינת לקראת אלבום חדש (!!!) שאמור לצאת בקיץ השנה. בהנאה רבה.

Just to get things started, what would you say are the artists you remember being most influenced by, maybe growing up, or that made you want to start your own band or just make music?

I think I listened to a lot of different music, I got into metal really young. It was the era of hair metal, but I started to get into thrash and then death metal. But metal seemed maybe too hard for my skill level. I gravitated a lot toward hardcore, punk and weirder industrial stuff. But it was bands like Earth (I was really into Sub Pop Records and picked up their second LP), Sonic Youth (Mainly because of SST Records) and Einstuerzende Neubauten that really showed me like anyone could do this with good ideas and make something unique and interesting. You didn’t need to watch Yngwie Malmsteen videos.

Could you speak a bit about how Locrian was formed? Were you all part of a local scene before the coming together?

Well André and I played in a band with my wife called Unlucky Atlas, it was a project I ran for a while, but it kind of fell apart. But before it fell apart André and I had bonded over metal, anthropology and stuff and he asked me to try this project with him. It sounded great to me to try a two man noise project. There were bands like Yellow Swans, Mouthus, Lightning Bolt that really seemed to get a big bang for their buck for just being two people. Though we had admired Steven Hess’ drumming and how versatile he was with electronics and interesting drum choices like in Haptic or Labradford. So when he expressed interest in working with us we were really excited. We were kind of on the outside a bit, we trafficked in the metal world slightly but also in the noise/experimental worlds of Chicago. It was a good time at that time. We really got to experiment.

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Locrian seems like such an amalgamation of influences and attitudes, with nods to black metal, kraut rock, drone, electronic music, and more. Is that just an expression of all of your different influences that converged into what became the band’s sound?

It’s just who we are. I mean we never can do anything straight. I always feel like if it sounds like something or someone else it’s a failure. So we’ll layer interesting textures, tempos and instrumentation. Now it’s just who we are.

Could you describe what the songwriting process is for the band? Are the songs written before rehearsals or during?

Well we just finished a new record for Relapse, and that was a challenge but we tend to send ideas back and forth. When we play shows or festivals we always reserve practice time to go over new ideas and develop things. It seems to work. We tend to improvise a lot live, between songs or we know a spot we just have like a visual cue to transition into the next part. When we record it is similar, like take the core idea and mutate it over time.

You’re an artist and designer as well as a musician. In what way are those related for you? Do they flow from the same wellspring, are they expressions of the same desire to explore or say something? Do they complement each other?

Well art and music are always related to me. A lot of my art is about music and music subcultures, right now using cassette tape as a medium for collages. However, I like how they are separated. In my studio I don’t have to collaborate but with the band there is a lot of give and take, trying things, responding to a riff or beat or mood. I guess they compliment each other.

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To me, at least, there seems to be some kind of elusive connection between what could be called the contemporary experimental scene – it has many names I guess , but not a lot of good ones, post-black, post-metal, drone, and so on – at least aesthetically with the liturgical tradition of music in the West. Obviously, no one, including Locrian, is identifying itself as a religious-band per se, but there seems to be a kind of mystical overtone, even, sometimes with the titles, such as your own “Return to Annihilation.” What in your eyes is the link, if any, between the kind of music and art you create and the spiritual? 

Sure I could see that, we use a lot of chanting, and we definitely talk a lot about the sublime. I mean it is hard to discuss the end of humanity without taking into consideration the spiritual aspect of apocalypses. But we’re not religious, I think maybe its just that we kind of mourn where we as a species have taken the earth. That sadness or whatever maybe can come across that way.

Locrian has been known to be, at least in the first few years, a prodigiously productive band, though that killer pace seemed to have slowed down in the last couple of years. What was it that made you guys want to release as much as you did and what is it now that led you to change things up? 

Well when we started and those first like five years we had a lot of content and we were just trying to get ideas out. But we started to realize we shouldn’t let every note out and to focus our energy is a good idea. Plus we want to tell stories, each album from The Clearing up until our most recent is a concept album with a narrative.

You’ve dabbled in self-releasing albums in the past, while switching up labels. In your experience, and with the state of the music business now, and with so many small and medium labels out there, does it still matter that you’re a part of a label such as Relapse? What would you say you have learned from the self-release part?

Relapse is amazing, they’re good people who really work hard for you and always support your vision. I mean I know they knew what they were getting when they picked us up. There are certainly more resources to tell the stories we want to tell, use the artists we want to use for the covers, etc. But André and I ran a tape label here in the states and we learned a lot, that we hate mailing things and how to pack packages so the postal service doesn’t trash stuff. Other than that I am not really interested in running my own label. I love working with small labels, I do all of the time, I think you can do some creative packaging and ideas that way that on a larger sale (say over 500 or over 100) just wouldn’t be feasible.

About the new album for Relapse, was the writing process or production any different this time around? Did you feel like you were trying new things or exploring different areas?

The production was similar, we recorded at Electrical Audio with Greg Norman again. But this time we had two collaborators, Dana Schechter (Insect Ark) and Erica Burgner-Hannum. We definitely tried new things, I don't think we'll ever make the same album. I mean we kept a few ideas in our heads. The main theme was basically inspired by this book "The Sixth Extinction" by Elizabeth Kolbert.

You’ve recently moved to Baltimore, I understand, to start teaching at Stevenson University. Hos is that going for you, and how much of a switch is it from being an artist, musician, and graduate student to being a teacher (fair warning, I’m about to make that switch myself in about a month and I’m friggin' terrified)?

Yeah, I teach Foundations in the Art and Visual Communication Department. I’ve been teaching college for over a decade and I really enjoy it. I like teaching Freshmen too, I like helping them move towards what they want and help them refine what they want to do. I think the best part was my grad school threw me in the water and made me swim when I was a TA, and prepared me to pick up adjunct work. It was good. So I was prepared. I tend to just try and not lose sight of what it was like when I was 18-22, or new at going to college, even with my adult students and just be fair and listen. I think just supporting students and helping them is important, whether its understanding a concept in the class or just making them refine an idea and not make an obvious decision. I never tell my students about what I do as a musician, I tend to let them figure it out.

And, finally, what are some of the bands or artists you’re really into these days?

Man, I am all over the place. I follow a lot of labels and artists, lately I have been all over this Mexican label called Umor Rex, picking up whatever I can because the design and attention to detail is so strong – the Aux Field tape is a gem. I’ve been picking up some older Wolf Eyes records like Slicer that I somehow missed. This last the record Ecdysis by Horrendous was a pretty great death metal album, really impressed me. I also really enjoyed the compilation album of the power-electronics band Ultra called Delirious Elaborations, their album Zoll which is in the compilation has been a revelation for me. Anyway, like I said I am all over. I also love this rapper named B L A C K I E from Houston, the guy is so intense.

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