Interview: Terence Hannum of Locrian
Sean Gray | Sep 5, 2013 | 2:00PM |

We first featured Terence Hannum of Locrian last year during his “Veils” exhibit. This time around he’s playing solo material at the Black Cat, opening for avant/experimental musician Richard Youngs on Tuesday, Septmeber 10. Since our 2012 interview, Hannum has released a handful of cassettes, including a newspaper/cassette series (that I had the honor of releasing myself), a book, and a proper full-length that just came out last month. We discussed that along with classic proggers Yes, how he bridges the gap between music/art and awesome, earlier Deicide.

Brightest Young Things: I want to dive right into the new LP. Tell me how this came about and what you want to get out of recording a proper full length.

Terence Hannum: I was initially just excited about recording my first LP. Shelter-Press has been doing some amazing work – so it was nice to be invited to make it and a zine to go with it. I knew with this LP I wanted two side long pieces.  I had been listening to this 3 CD set of Ritual Tibetan Buddhist Music produced by David Parsons and there’s one CD where percussion and voice kind of dominates. It just floors you. It kind of gave me the idea to approach the LP that way. Just using some cymbals and vocals, though I added synthesizers to it as it developed.
BYT: There seems to be a lot of empty space in your recordings and this LP reminds me a little bit of your Corpse Flower work along with the icey tones of Dread Majesty, is that what you were going for?
TH: Totally, just giving space to certain parts, allowing some subtle shifts and gradually increasing the instrumentation. Bringing in the synths, fading them out to voice, or just allowing the cymbals to dominate the first minutes of side B. I mean, doing something on my own I don’t have the other voices contributing to the record and I am not writing pop songs, so I want to immerse you into an experience.
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BYT: How you did you get into the art aspect of music?
TH: I always have been involved in both, or at least interested. Musically, I would say early on it was certainly really clear things like Velvet Underground and Warhol, I remember reading about that growing up and it made an impression on me. But probably the earliest was probably Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation, I saw that Gerhard Richter did the cover. This was before the Internet so I couldn’t just Google him, so I would start reading Art in America and Artforum and it really kind of went from there. As far as making art I was a big nerd, I would visit my dad in the summers and he lived right outside DC, and I would go to free museums like all day and when I was a teenager I went to the Hirshhorn and saw this Felix Gonzalez Torres exhibition and I knew I wanted to make art. The worlds kind of clicked. I didn’t know how to start but the interest was initiated.
BYT: I feel like you really bridge the gap in some ways for those really wanting to get into high end art, I know from working with you I started reading more about fluxes art and made a point to check out the Nam June Paik collection in DC when it was around. Was there any musicians that did that for you? When you do your more high end art, do you still keep in mind the Locrian audience? Not so much in that they like Locrian or expect that vibe, but that they might just be into music? Is it interesting to see some of those Locrian listeners follow you beyond just Locrian?
TH: Oh yeah, I think Raymond Pettibon being on those SST releases. Like the fliers for Black Flag. I still remember when you could grab a zine from the catalog for a few bucks. Wish I got some. Man, that Mike Kelley art on Sonic Youth’s Dirty, just stuff like that. Bob Flanagan. It just would snowball. Factory Records definitely cracked it open, I would get anything Peter Saville touched. I grew up in Florida, so I was kind of ostracized from any real art culture. I would pay more attention to the art sometimes and just dig deeper. Then pay attention. I mean now you know, you can just put it in your phone and you got it. But then I had to search, get books, magazines and when I would travel make sure I hit museums and galleries, it was the same with record shops.
I hope that listeners to Locrian are similar, look at the liner notes and learn about artists like Scott Treleaven or Richard Misrach, Brian Ulrich or Sean Dack. I purposefully use artists because I know how important that was for me and how they can provide a bigger context than like an album. As far as audience, I am the worst, I honestly at the end of the day kind of figure either you get it or you don’t and if you don’t then I really don’t have time for you. Like there’s so much you can look at and listen to, and I get that. I don’t need to convince you. So yeah, it’s great when a Locrian fan follows me over to the fine art realm by picking up a publication or edition or something. But I never have an expectation that someone who likes Locrian is going to like what I do solo or my art.
BYT: What made you want to combine medias like cassettes and newspapers? Do you feel as though it was a bigger impact?
TH: Definitely a bigger impact. I’d say my main influence were those Fluxus compilation boxes that George Maciunas compiled, they had like film loops, print editions, flexi discs in there – mini sculptures. I always thought that kind of multi-media approach was interesting. And Crass, Penis Envy, the posters. I love the record but the visuals, I remember my friends growing up had that on vinyl and the ephemera that came with the record was always something that made an impression on me.
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BYT: Rituals has always been something you’ve been fascinated with, and we discussed this before a bit last year. You’ve put out an LP that has gotten major praise everywhere. The whole process seems like a ritual in how you conduct a band and put out a bigger release…what have you learned from that now that Locrian seems to be on a whole other level?
TH: I’ve learned a lot, I think with Locrian I at least have two other friends to always discuss and bounce ideas with. It definitely helps. I think sometimes people confuse something that has intent with something that is maybe ritualistic. Music, obviously has these tendencies towards ritual. And obviously there are bands that call their shows rituals, I get it. But with Locrian, I think, we just have intent. We build narratives, live and on record, and I think what I’ve learned is just to not stray from that. And really try and make something meaningful.
BYT: Going back to the LP lets talk about side B. One of the interesting things about side B is how dreamy it is. It reminds me a bit of stuff on the last Locrian LP. It feels live you’ve channeled a way to use repetition and turn it into something dreamy. Is that something you see yourself doing in the future? 
TH: I use a lot of loops and repetition, for me, is all about texture and juxtaposition. I think once I lay down something that is harsh I like to try and soften it, and vice-versa. Even if the base of it is a repetitive bass loop or cymbal loop. Though I think with Locrian we have been shifting into having more parts with more happening.
BYT: You just published your first book. Tell me about that experience.
TH: A.Y.P.S. was put out by Kiddiepunk in France. It was a great experience, compiling three years of drawings, texts and collages with an interview that Kevin Killian did with me. It was a lot of work. Honestly it’s probably made me change all of my work. I am in the midst of a big shift. So it was good I think, though saying that it also makes it a bit scary to realize maybe you’ve finished a set of ideas.
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BYT: I know you love Yes, and well, I love Yes too. What was your first exposure to them and how has some of their music affected you?
 
TH: Ha, I grew up listening to everything from The Yes Album to Big Generator thanks to my dad. After I made my peace with prog and got over  a self-deprecating attitude enforced in a lot of DIY music where ambition, ingenuity or whatever was kind of discouraged, I realized there were some big ideas in like Close to the Edge and Relayer. Drama is so heavy! And like three people are gone from the normal lineup. Anyway, it kind of got me into King Crimson, Soft Machine, The Nice, Roxy Music, early Genesis and even parallels into my obsessions with what was happening in Germany around that time with Neu!, Kraftwerk, Popol Vuh, Tangerine DReam, Klaus Schulze, etc.
BYT: You don’t tour much. One of the things we’ve discussed is how your shows have become events more than concerts. I know Locrian is touring soon, will this be different from the short tour earlier this year?
TH: We’ll be playing new material, like more recent than Return to Annihilation. We’re already sketching out some ideas for the follow up and kind of think we’ll use those dates to try some of the ideas out alongside some of the older pieces.
BYT: You do some film work. Can we expect more from you in the future? What are some of your all-time favorite films?
Terence: I have video I did for the new Locrian record that should go live soon and I’ve been coordinating getting together all of the artists to do a video for every song on the album. I’d like people to be able to watch the record at some point. But after that not much.
My all-time favorites, OK: The Mirror by Andrei Tarkovsky, Saló by Pier Paolo Pasolini, Over the Edge by Jonathan Kaplan, The Holy Mountain by Alejandro Jodorowsky, The Time of the Wolf by Michael Haneke.  Man I could go on, I like movies that kind of make you feel horrible like I Stand Alone by Gaspar Noe or Cannibal Holocaust. Just the hits.
BYT: You’re playing with the awesome Richard Youngs. That’s gotta be exciting for you. Advent floored me when I heard it for the first time. What was the first Youngs LP you heard?
TH: Core of the Brave, which is maybe late in the game, considering his discography. I love that, sans vocals, it could be a pretty harrowing noise record but add his vocals and he forces you into a difficult and beautiful listen. I kind of think music should be like that album, challenging, melodic, and always keeping your interest.
BYT: Can we expect more solo shows from you in the future? What else is coming up?
TH: Yeah, I’m sure I’ll do something solo soon. It’s always nice to be asked. But Locrian will do some dates in mid-September in the Midwest and then in the spring we’re playing our first European show at Roadburn. That’s something we’re all excited about. I have a new newspaper and cassette coming out with Accidental Guest Recordings, it’s a collaboration with Scott Treleaven titled Unquiet Graves.
BYT: Finally, I want an excuse to post an early Deicide video or Possessed video. Choose one. 
TH: OK, well it has to be Deicide, I remember Legion was a big deal for me and my friends growing up in Florida. Deicide are from Tampa, and then they knew what buttons to push. So I found this live version of “Behead the Prophet (No Lord Shall Live)” which was one of my favorite songs off that album. Also, in a pretty ballsy move, was the name a a pretty intense queercore band from Washington that I liked immediately seeing the band name – I recommend checking out their record I Am that Great and Fiery Force if you can find it.

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