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Gabe Serbian

Growing up, I went through a number of music genre phases.

In the late 90s, I broke out of a long rut of "there's nothing interesting going on, I'm going to keep listening to the Dolls & the Stooges" that occupied my 20s, when I discovered an absolutely amazing new underground scene, which, coincidently, was pretty much globally centered on my home city, Providence.

Damn convenient.

There were tons of exciting bands doing crazy things, but the handful of groups that really blew my mind were: Lightning Bolt (Providence), Melt-Banana (Tokyo), and The Locust (San Diego).

The first time I saw The Locust, in 2001, their recordings so far weren't that great, and I wasn't really sure what to expect. What I saw floored me to such an extent that I jumped on a bus the next day and followed them down to New York to see their next two shows.

I took this photo last year when I realized I had been wearing this t-shirt, which I bought at one of those NY shows (ABC NO RIO), for 20 years:

I used to say that seeing Gabe Serbian, The Locust's drummer, play live was like watching a Bruce Lee flick. Sparse blurs of motion applied like paint strokes. I don't really like straight grindcore or related hardcore, but Gabe took their techniques and applied them to experimental music with greater success than anyone else ever has. Gabe quickly became my favorite drummer of all time, edging out Brian Chippendale and Max Roach, the other two obvious contenders.

One time I took the bus to a NY state university's spring fest to see The Locust play, with the clever plan of: take the bus down, see the show, sleep on a park bench somewhere, take the bus home. Unfortunately it started raining. The Locust & a Providence band Arab on Radar, were splitting a pair of hotel rooms (I think The Locust paid for both?), and they let me sleep on the floor in a corner, which was very nice.

Another time Providence band Daughters made me their roadie for a weekend, just so I could tag along to a couple of Locust shows they were also playing.

A few years later Gabe spent an afternoon driving around on his motorocycle, with a cameraman following in a car, and gave me the footage to use in a movie I was making, which was the broadcast from a pirate TV station in a post-apocalyptic world. I was using an algorithmic version of Burrough's cut up technique with video clips submitted to me by various friends.

The movie was called "Abandoned TV" and can be downloaded here and there's more info here.

Gabe will be greatly missed.