From the Locust to Planet B and Back Again: Justin Pearson of the Locust, Planet B, Dead Cross and more told us about his experience on a bill with Fantomas.
Justin Pearson: Asking someone what the best gig they ever saw can be way too stressful and even impossible to get a simple answer. There are so many layers of what is a best gig. I started early, around age ten, if you want to exclude Chaka Kahn at age seven. Normally I’d pick something like the Cramps at the California Theater when I was twelve, or Downcast at Gilman St. when I was fifteen. Or many of the thousands and thousands of other shows I have been to or played over the years. And when all is said and done, I think what I would suggest is more so an idea of a performance that is spread over two shows in two cities.
The Locust was on tour with Fantomas and Trevor Dunn Trio-Convulsant. I’m not sure who organized the post-Locust/ pre-Fantomas drum “battle” or more so drum performance, but it was set up to have Gabe Serbian, Dave Lombardo and Ches Smith do this loosely organized drum solo performance. Since Lumbago’s weird mega Fantomas kit was set up on stage left most nights, and Gabe would usually put his kit front center, it was pretty easy to set this up for the three drummers to rip as their own set. The first night was in Seattle at the Showbox. The Locust had just finished our set, and of course Gabe went full bore and did all the non-human stuff he would do on a drum kit, and of course, barfed as part of his playing. So I really felt bad for him and his physical well being to just extend his time on stage and try to do another weird set. I may have some of the details wrong, but I think it was set up so each drummer would play a piece as the other two would just hold back with a basic beat as a metronome, showcasing their style or vibe. Ches was first to go and so awesome, with his foot on the snare jazz muting, and effortless jarring timing and precision. Nobody really knew what to expect, so it was a pleasure to see that unfolding in real time. Gabe kicked back in, with some weird second, or third or maybe fourth wind, still in uniform (mask off though to wipe away some of the puke from his face, which was still all over parts of his kit) just punishing his kit even more than he did in our set we had just finished. As the nits were getting faster and more strategically placed, snot seemed to fly out of his nose as if he was trying to exorcise a demon, and as elegant as Ches was on his small minimal kit, Gabe seemed to just find his version of that with total brutality and total absurdity till he physically had to stop. It looked as if he was in a swimming pool but the pool was removed. Of course Lombardo kicked in, with his giant kit full of bells, gongs, saws, and of course his patented double kick. Gabe may have put some pressure on Dave to step things up a bit, but I always wondered if he knew he had to keep it cool since he was about to embark on a wild lengthy set with Fantomas. Either way, they all did their pieces, each amazing and captivating, and then there was a full on solo crescendo up till Lombardo’s signal to stop dead. It left the audience collectively mind blown.
Now the wild part of this whole thing was that the following night, maybe two nights after, as the drive from Seattle to San Francisco is a bit long, and The Locust would always fill in every single gap to avoid night off mostly to try to make a little income here and there on certain tours that were not as well paying as we would have like them to be. But the show in SF was at the Fillmore, which as legendary as it is, was owned and operated by Clear Channel at the time, and The Locust had a full on ban of playing Clear Channel venues for political reasons. Unfortunately we had to bow out of that show, which was a real drag. However, Hella was added and we got to just attend and take a break for the night. So Zach Hill replaced Gabe’s place in the drum “battle”. I remember Lombardo explaining the idea and set up to Zach. The brief explanation was rushed, in a crowded and loud room, and I think Zack was about to take the stage or something. I also don’t think Lombardo was familiar with Zach, which was interesting and probably amusing considering what was about to happen. Same thing as the night in Seattle, but Hella had just played, and this was when they added members, and for some reason I feel like it was pretty full, with bassist Jonathan Hischski, and at least one other player. Ches did his thing, Zach ripped pretty damn hard, and then Dave went for it. Everything was amazing and insanely impressive till the end crescendo when they were all signed to stop and Zack just kept going harder and harder and harder. Like harder that I had ever seen him, or almost any other human go on a drum kit. A cymbal flew off and into the crowd, then a shoe followed, there was smoke… well, steam, coming off of Zach as if he was a nuclear power plant defusing energy, and the only way Zach was going to stop was if the kit was destroyed. I think it was the seat that literally broke, or maybe just fell part and he flew back onto the floor and was no longer able to hit the kit. The crowd erupted in applause and disbelief. It was so fucked up. It was beautiful. Fantomas did have to play their set after that performance.
Now to say that I love a band like ADULT. after fixating on drums for most of my musical life says an awful lot. They are a whole other level of brilliance, and for Planet B, we just ended up getting two drummers in the band, Kevin Avery and Scott Osment.
Planet B’s split single with Adult. is out January 6 through Three One G Records.
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