Interview: Grace Perry (Landmine Marathon)
David Brodsky's video for "Shadows Fed to Tyrants" is a thing of beauty. It turns 2-D sound into 3-D chaos, capturing the energy of Landmine Marathon's live show. This is the context that turns the band's fans into rabid missionaries. I'm one of them. I talked to vocalist Grace Perry before Landmine's recent show in Los Angeles. She was gracious and patient, then shredded faces minutes later.
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How many tours have you done?
It'll be six years in November. Over a dozen, easily. I've never actually counted. I used to count, and then I lost track.
A dozen tours in, what do you do now that you didn't do back then?
I don't bring nice clothes, any kinds of nice clothes whatsoever. You always pre-drink, because it's not worth spending shit-tons of money at the bar. I gave up on trying to make my hair look anywhere near what it normally looks like. I usually just put it up, and it starts dreading by the end of the tour.
Has that been a concern?
After a show, you're so sweaty and you're so tired that you don't want to take a shower. So I just wake up with nappy hair. I don't ever go more than a couple days [without a shower], but [my hair] can dread really, really fast.
Is that cool?
It's not. It's the homeless-y dread, not the cool dread.
After six years, has your view of the band changed?
I'm more dedicated than I was in the beginning. It's become such a part of my life. Twice a week for close to six years, having practice, and touring together - this is part of me. I haven't gotten my band tattoo, but I will when I get back. [The other members] all have matching tattoos. I know it's cheesy, but we are so dedicated. Not necessarily trying to make it big or get any kind of financial success, but just make music and have a wonderful time doing it.
In the beginning, I was a lot more wary about the band. [I thought] maybe I'd quit in a couple months. I just didn't really know what I was getting into. Now I'm like, "This is it. What the fuck else would I do with my time?"
What does Landmine Marathon want to do as an entity?
Besides touring the world? We want to do this for as long as possible and affect as many people as we can, but always look back on Landmine as one of the best things we ever did in our lives.
What's the effect that you want to have on people?
I want to have the effect of, when they see us, they're not going to walk away because we're playing for too long, or they're bored. They watch us because we affect them in a way beyond just the music. The record's great, but our live show is so much more impactful.
I've always felt that there's a gap between your records and your live shows. If I produced Landmine Marathon, I'd make you guys record live.
It's completely different. I feel like I sound completely different live than I do on record, because I'm in a studio, standing up straight, trying not to move too much. It's just not who I am at all. If you go to a live show, I'm crawling around on the ground. I would like to bridge that gap at some point, as far as recording and live - to make them more parallel to each other.
You should have people recording you guys for a DVD later on.
I hope so. We did a music video, but it was obviously off the record. But the way we did the music video, it was a live show. So the visual intensity is there, and it really makes a difference. Not just sitting and listening to it, but seeing what a live show is for us - it affected me so much more than listening to our record.
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[vimeo width="540" height="304"]http://vimeo.com/12012733[/vimeo]
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When you started in Landmine, did you perform the way that you do now?
I think I was maybe a little bit more reserved. But I've always been a very outgoing, boisterous person when it comes to that. I was in a band before this that was even more ridiculous. So really going all-out on stage has never been a problem, even when I was 19. I think I'm more intense [now] because I'm more attached to this album, Sovereign Descent, than the previous two.
Was there any precedent for you to break the plane of the stage and enter the crowd? Did you come up with that yourself, or did you see someone else do that?
I think I broke that plane just growing up in a hardcore punk scene and feeling like I would rather be attached to the audience than separate. I've always wanted to be completely intertwined with the audience instead of them feeling like I'm this separate entity that they have to watch instead of involve themselves [with].
Have you experienced anything negative as a result of entering the crowd?
No. I had some dude grab my butt once. But I'm not going to track him down in a crowd of 50 people and beat him up or have someone else beat him up for me; I'm not very strong. But, no, actually. I've never dressed in a way that exposed myself to that kind of behavior. I've always been very modest. People mistake me for a guy all the time.
Also I broke my nose once, but I don't consider that a bad thing.
When you go into the crowd and push and kick people, do people push and kick back?
Not really. I think the gender barrier is there a little bit, still. People will pick me up, they'll throw me, they'll lift me up. They'll do all of that, and I welcome it. The more, the merrier. Get involved! The better the crowd is, the better I am. I've gotten hurt, but it's always accidental. It's never aggressive or violent.
Would you wish for more physical contact?
I actually do. I think having that physical contact with the crowd - it makes people feel more emotional about the music, and it makes me feel more emotional about the music. I feel like when I am connected with somebody on that level, I am invigorated by the fact that they love it as much as I love it. Even if it's just one fan that loves the music just as much as I love the music - the first time I experienced that, it was like nothing I've ever felt.
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Do you enter moshpits?
I watched Converge play about a month ago, and I was right in front, screaming my head off. It depends. I'm not a very strong person, and I can get knocked to the ground pretty quickly. So I am aware of that. But, yeah, I'll be right up there. I love it. Even before this band, I did that, so it's not something new to me.
Does violence turn you on?
(Laughs) No. But I think that intensity does. And violence is just a repercussion of that. You can be intense, and you can be in a crowd, you can sing along, and you don't have to be violent. It's not that - it's more just being passionate. Violence is a repercussion of passion.
Whom do you look up to as a frontperson?
Barney [Greenway] from Napalm Death. I got to interview him and meet him. And I was sort of crying, because I'm pathetic.
It was because I was so excited and nervous. And I cry very easily. My eyes started watering, and he could tell. I couldn't help it because [Napalm Death] was one of the first death metal bands I was introduced to. Before this band, I listened to Megadeth and hardcore and punk. I didn't know a lot of those [extreme metal] bands. One of the first bands I got involved with and loved was Napalm Death. His sociopolitical beliefs are something that I can feel parallel [with], and his stage presence is so captivating that it's something I wish and hope that I can do someday. I don't think I'm anywhere near what he is, but if I am ever able to reach that point, it'll be a great day for me.
I ask singers this - when songs have solos, do you struggle with what to do with yourself during that time?
I used to definitely struggle with it. But now I'm in my own world. I've been able to get into a mode where I don't give a fuck what people think of me. I care what they think of my band, but me as a lead singer - they can either like me or not. I'm not here to impress them or do the right thing. I'm here to be myself.
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LANDMINE MARATHON - SUMMER TOUR 2010
7/16 Philadelphia, PA - M Room (w/Salome)
7/17 Baltimore, MD - Talking Head (w/Salome)
7/18 Richmond, VA - The Triple
7/19 Knoxville, TN - The Poison Lawn
7/20 ???, TN? - TBA
7/21 New Orleans, LA - Checkpoint Charlies
7/22 Houston, TX - Walters on Washington
7/23 Austin, TX - Red 7
7/24 Fort Worth, TX - Cut/Salon Art Space (w/Kill the Client)
7/25 Oklahoma City, OK - TBA
7/26 Albuquerque, NM - TBA
7/31 Tempe, AZ - Yucca Tap Room
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