H. O. L. Y. Crap! Just when you thought Ocean Grove couldn’t evolve more than they …
Do we need a grunge revival? Does the genre need a revamp? Whatever your answer, it’s here, or at least, something exciting that bears a resemblance is.
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From Melbourne trio, Locus, their self-titled debut EP is demonstrating 90s throwbacks, certainly, but it’s quick and constant thinking and a very cohesive formulae that’s giving this group their edge.
Even their roles within the band seem grungy, uncertain, unkempt, but working nonetheless. With bassist Louisville Slugger, guitarist Joel Penman, and primary songwriter and drummer Benjamin Hoare, the balance is equal among them.
Locus came together because they wanted to create for themselves a free environment for music. Hoare explains how he and Slugger moved from a small country town to Melbourne, strenuously playing around in a former band. That band came to a halt, and the boys who would become Locus searched for something new. “We didn’t plan it, it just kind of happened,” says Penman. “There’s a lot of similar influences among the band,” adds Hoare, “so it’s cool to be able to bring something to the table and know everyone’s around it.
“It comes back to how free it all feels, how easy it is to run music in this band.”
Slipping grunge into the 21st century and branding their own wicked personalities on it, though there’s effortless motions in everything from production to song writing within the release Locus have still allowed themselves room for creative development, which, given their enthusiasm and effortless (that word again) discussion around their craft, will no doubt cultivate wonderfully. “It’s an easy style of music to write without being submissive,” says Hoare. “It’s fun to play with pedals, to hit things hard without worrying about tech too much.
“If there are any timing woes or anything in this, that’s an element of our influences—if there’s a pause that takes you off guard like, ‘that’s not grungy’—other than that, it’s just great fun to write music like this. It’s grunge in the 21st century.”
This is for fun. We’re writing music like you did when you were 14 in your room, pretending to be rock stars. But now we can pay studios, pretend even further!
[ Benjamin Hoare ]
So, let’s focus on Locus. Even now in conversation the boys are sitting strumming, the creative nuances ceaseless. There’s something, they agree, about the sounds made by this unholy trio, and indeed their entire makeup, that are unproblematic. “We come from a time where we listened to a lot of underground bands that had a bit of sound,” says Hoare. “We might be the only band in Australia doing this, maybe, maybe not, but we’re definitely not the only band in the world that’s coming back with the grunge thing. There’s a bit of a party there we want to try.”
“Noise-rock, sludgy sounds from a lot of underground bands, that a lot of people haven’t heard of but just keep on rocking over,” Penman agrees. “You just find so much on Spotify,” Hoare takes the reins again. “I might wake up one morning and the boys are like, ‘Check this band out!”
To be Locus, various elements comprise the band, that much we’ve learnt, which means for tracks in the EP like Gutless and Dialled In are just phwoar! “Let’s touch on the fact that I didn’t write the riff for Gutless,” says Hoare, “That was Slugger.” Fervent agreement can be heard from Penman in the background. “I think I jammed it out and you wrote the lyrics,” comes the humble response from Slugger to all the praise. Discussion is soon sparked as to the group’s methods in creating the song. “It’s a lot of simple riffs and heavy drums; that’s the sound of people enjoying themselves,” finishes Hoare.
There’s an admirable equality to this band, Hoare adding that up to this point much of the lyrics have come from Joel, with more input to come from the bassist in future. “He did a couple of screams on the album, too,” says Hoare, “He is there vocally, and his ideas, even though the majority is me so far.”
That sense of inclusivity and a lack of limelight hogging is, for the most part, a unique quality in a band these days. “An important element of this band is that everyone writes this shit,” adds Hoare. “We’ve all been in bands where it fell apart for a little bit because someone didn’t say something,” says Penman. “It’s a whole element of being straight up.
“It’s a whole other element that we all write. We all play drums and I can’t stress that enough that comes through in our writing, it’s very rhythmic.
There again lies an element that makes Locus’ setup unique. “I have to touch on the fact that I feel this band isn’t focussed on what anyone else is doing,” says Hoare. “This is for fun. We’re writing music like you did when you were 14 in your room, pretending to be rock stars. But now we can pay studios, pretend even further!”