In preparation for our performances in Cleveland and Pittsburgh, we chose to give a little insight into the inner workings of Lockstep.
Interview by Aaron Vilk.
How long has Lockstep been together?
Lockstep began in the spring of 2008, meant to be an indulgence of our shared aesthetic tastes.
Musically, Lockstep seems to pick up where the late 1990s metalcore sound left off, drawing much from the sound of Integrity and other Holy Terror style bands. How influential is this style of hardcore to the music and imagery that you present? What other styles are influential to your sound and attitude?
We are all big fans of the Holy Terror sound, which is evident in our songwriting as an influence. We don't want to limit ourselves, however, and hopefully with our next recordings we can expand upon more of our less conventional influences. As far as imagery, however, we're simply above and beyond the base reductionism and simple reactionary content of this once-dead and now revived "movement." That isn't to say we don't have a great admiration and appreciation for the motivations behind those sounds and images and enjoy many of the bands… to stir the cattle into a frenzy is a great service to all wolves, regardless. We have simply found things holier and more terrorizing than the babbling of ideologically impotent prison mystics. We have also transcended the dichotomies of Christian dogma and feel no need to call upon its imagery to invoke a sense of fright. Still, we appreciate and draw inspiration from other artists who have forced boundaries and transgressed against the modern world, from hardcore to noise to neofolk to electro-pop and the various other performance and visual arts.
With regards to your imagery, I've seen your music labeled by some distros as “eco-fascist” hardcore. Would you agree with this assessment of Lockstep's vision? What necessarily do you feel “eco-fascism” would entail? Does it relate to the somewhat apocalyptic beliefs underlying radical anarcho-primitivism? How does it relate to the violent actions taken on by radicals such as Ted Kaczynski or other actions of eco-radical domestic terrorism?
Within the overbearing political correctiveness of the modern world, anytime one finds something that vehemently calls into question the foundations of a dominant paradigm, those within that paradigm see such things as absolutely vile, and thus feel the urge to reduce that thing to a base evil. Perhaps their conscious intentions weren't so apparent, but whoever called us so did just that. However, to be misunderstood is to intrigue, and intrigue is what drives people to deeper understandings. But we'll take this rare opportunity now to make clear on this issue.
Lockstep is a rather amorphous collection of individuals with a wide range of thoughts and philosophies. Our unique individual political/philosophical associations are insignificant as not a one represents some sort of holistic underlying message we are trying to convey. Our ideas are simply too complex to synthesize in that manner, something that undoubtedly makes us largely inaccessible in a scene of sloganeering and identity politics. It is true that we all have a great reverence for the natural world. And while we may understand the desperation certain philosophies surrounding an ecological re-prioritization might have, in the end they are nothing more than uncritical, civilized responses to civilized problems. They simply fail to see the weight of our history as a species and our natural inclinations towards egalitarianism.We implore our fellow humans to embrace our evolutionary heritage and to destroy modern reality. That is as cohesive a statement one could ask from us. Some of us do fall more in line with a nihilistic or anarchist primitivism, others something more sinister and mystical than to be prescribed within the boundaries of ideology. But regardless the realities that are called to mind when faced with the utter failure of techno-industrial civilization and its imminent collapse fit quite well with the tone of our music, so we take advantage of those feral visions of our true destinies.
As far as the question regarding our Theodore J. Kaczynski, we may or may not have many criticisms of him as an individual (not to mention our question of whether he acted alone as the Freedom Club), but we greatly appreciate what he and the Unabomber campaign represented: a rejection of modernity's victim culture, and FC's concerted effort to make those who maintain the modern world call into question their accountability and its cost. We stand by those who have chosen to make very real the consequences of the modern world, from John Linley Frazier in the 70s to those saboteurs in Sweden who recently took down 70 power lines.
You cover Integrity's “A.T.F. Assault” on your demo. Does your music fall in line with something more along the ideas of right-wing survivalism and violent anti-government action? Do you feel that the idea of eco-anarchic awareness falls outside simple left / right political spectrum?
I feel we answered the first part of this question above.
We chose this song to cover because it relates a story of a people wanting to be left alone under pressure by an intruding, dominant force. Such is the fate of many of the last truly authentic human cultures today, and our cover is done with those people in mind, never some Christian sect.
As for eco-anarchic awareness, I would say genuine anarchic thought (not the limp liberal leftist garbage that passes for 90% of contemporary anarchism) exists beyond such a spectrum, as it is inherently anti-political. For example, primitivist thought calls upon the very nature of our species from an evolutionary perspective, not an economic or social construct of fairly recent creation by desperate and incomplete beings and maintained by similar beings.
There has been some muttering over the band's symbol, which bears a resemblance to the Black Sun rune. Would you like to clear up what the symbol represents or put aside any misconceptions?
The meaning that this or various other symbols carries is beyond Lockstep or the individuals involved. The work involved in arriving at or understanding certain interpretations is not something that can be shared through words. It is at the heart experiential, sensuous. That said, this symbol has been seen to represent the many crooked paths with which to reach one's desired end. Someone also pointed out to us that it resembles the classic punk symbol of chaos, twisted and mangled with sharper and deadlier edges. We delight in such interpretations of the imagery. We enjoy allowing those looking to find their own meanings. We know what we know.
You do not get to play live or tour very often. The few shows that do manage to come together have been marred by fighting and transgressive forms of provocation such as blasting the audience with high-intensity floodlights. What does these kind of activities accomplish and what statement are you trying to make with them?
We don't play often because we are all exploring our individual paths, and oftentimes some of us are living above the law and beyond the average circumstances that most in the hardcore and punk community are comfortable in. Simple logistics, be they legal, physical, or otherwise, are oftentimes what keep us from playing often. However, we prefer it this way. Better we are realizing ourselves and making our few shows truly worth it than to be in a tired routine of performance.
We wish to tear off the facade of security and nicety that the modern world envelops oneself in. We want to remind everyone that just below the surface is the feral being begging to be released, to enrapture itself with actual experience as opposed to the banality of civilization. We also wish to remind our audience that they have lulled themselves into believing that every single day of modern existence is not terrifying, disorienting, and dangerous. Our performances are rituals for transformation of the atavistic self.
What are some of your influences both sonically and ideologically from outside of the hardcore scene?
One of us is an scholar of Heidegger, another of Paul Shepard, another of Yeats. We are avid readers of Zerzan, Perlman, Camatte, and others who challenge the civilized man and call for a realization of the primal self. Stirner, Nietzsche, Beaudelaire and others provide varied, yet poignant perspectives on the experience of this world and beyond, as well as the potential that lies within the individual. Other recent delights have been Les Chants de Maldoror and the works of Bataille, Baudrillard, and Black…We recently discovered Otto Gross and are searching out his works for further edification.
Musically, we have many outside influences: Depeche Mode, Rudimentary Peni, Current 93, to name a very essentialist few. We are truly lovers of music, from IDM to black metal to field recordings of forager rituals.
Lately Fever Ray, Skin Graft, and while they fall under the hardcore and punk umbrella, bands like Thou, Bacchus, and Masakari have delighted our ears. Amidst a flurry of half-measured reunions, we're excited to see Pale Creation returning with some real creative energy.
We also draw a great deal of inspiration from visual arts as well. Blake and Bacon were unparalleled masters of visualizing terror. Gabríela Friðriksdóttir, Nick Blinko (his writing as well) Hannah Höch, and Boo Saville catch our eyes.
One of your vocalists is primarily known as industrial noise project Plague Mother, which he incorporates into Lockstep, such as on the B-side of your demo. Where do you feel these types of extreme music intersect?
Plague Mother is the individual pursuit of one of our members, who also performs in the neo-folk project A Gaze Blank & Pitiless. Another member does a superb black metal project with a friend of ours, known as Astron Argon. A Year Without A Summer is another associated project, one whose beauty is the perfect foil for the general scope of sounds we tend to create. Many other projects are in the works but have yet to be fully realized. I would say that along with Lockstep our interests intersect in that they expose the filthy and scummy layer of civilization's rot just below the surface of modernity.
Finally, what, in your opinion, is wrong with the hardcore and DIY scene as it stands today?
Our concerns are hardly with these scenes, although we are undeniably a part of them. We would venture to say the downfall of such subcultural cliques such as these are their perpetual victim identity. A lot of self pity, not a lot of self motivation.
Along with that, as the funeral march of techno-industrial society lurches forward, we see the growing dullness of daily life reaching monumental proportions. At this point, one needn't muster any effort to interact in a subcultural clique outside the usage of a computer. The will-affirming creativity it once took to participate actively in hardcore and punk simply isn't vital, at least it doesn't appear so to the generation long-spoiled by forum-logic and paypal-it-now consumer ethos. This is why hardcore can, in economic terms, be bigger than ever, yet touring, booking shows, and the like have never been harder. There's a sea of dullards, slack-jawed drooling children with no intent of seeking out a truer self within the violent chaos of this one-time stronghold of traitor-children. Which is partially what brought Lockstep into existence - our collective experience was largely informed by coming of age (so to speak) at the paradigm shift in this subculture. One of the factors that brought us together as a unit was our deep admiration for each other's ability to realize oneself within that context, and, as Thee Temple of Psychik Youth put it, force the hand of chance.