In 2010, Gabe Serbian was in the center of San Diego’s hardcore punk scene. The Golden Hill denizen drummed for post-punk experimentalists the Locust, screamed for Black Flag–inspired hardcore roots enthusiasts Rats Eyes, and worked the bar at Casbah.
In early 2010, he was playing drums for Miami breakcore DJ (and former contributor for industrial-metal band Skinny Puppy) Otto von Schirach on a tour through Europe.
“The tour began on April 23 at this crummy holiday resort in the United Kingdom called Camber Sands,” Serbian wrote in an email midway through the tour. “Our first show was at five in the morning at this crazy three-day rave called Bang Face. My favorite part was walking around all the crazy ravers’ rooms and watching all the bullshit.”
Bang Face was the first time that the two appeared on the same stage together since 2006, when von Schirach opened for the Locust during a European tour. While on tour, von Schirach asked Serbian if he would play live drums for his freaktronic tracks. Serbian agreed.
“It was pretty awesome, I would play brutal drums to tweaked versions of ’80s sitcom theme songs,” recalled Serbian.
Serbian received an email from von Schirach, who asked if he wanted to join him for the three-week trek overseas. A few weeks later, the two took the stage at Camber Sands Resort without any rehearsals.
“We just went for it. It’s been a challenge to pull it off, especially when he plays songs I’ve never heard. I’m not straying from my drum style at all, so it’s a good mashup; busy drums to Otto’s diverse, strange dance music.”
After Bang Face, Serbian and von Shirach toured across the U.K. and Europe. And despite missing his dog Lady and favored hometown burritos, the drummer managed to let loose for what he considered his favorite show of the tour.
“We played a pretty big show in Brussels for my birthday with some friends from San Diego called Narrows. It ruled. They brought a cake out to me onstage, and the entire club of 700 people sang happy birthday to me.”
In 2011, he played on Sin Sin Sin, the debut album by 21 year-old Teri Suaréz, aka Teri Gender Bender, the Guadalajara-born performance artist whose career he is helping to launch.
After moving to Austin, Texas, Serbian co-founded a new band alongside members of the Roller, calling themselves Wet Lungs. Their debut 7-song Vile Hobbies EP was released in late 2014. By then, Serbian and his wife had moved back to San Diego.
The 2014 Asia Argento film Incompresa featured onscreen roles for both Justin Pearson and Gabe, who joined with Three One G labelmate Luke Henshaw to contribute to the film's soundtrack. The following year, Serbian and Henshaw released a collaborative album called Variations In the Key Of the Afterlife.
Serbian passed away on April 30, 2022. "This world will miss Gabe as a friend, family member, musician, and artist," posted The Locust online. "He will continue to live on in so many ways and through everyone he has connected with during his time with us. May 1st is his birthday, and we hope that you can find a way to celebrate his life. During this difficult time we ask that you give Gabe’s family privacy."
In late 2022, the Locust presented the official video for their remix of Danny Elfman’s song Cruel Compensation. According to Three One G label honcho (and Locust co-founder) Justin Pearson, "The remix was the last recording Gabe Serbian did before he left this world, making this video release surreal, intense, and cathartic. This new video was directed and edited by our collaborator Dark Details. The images speak for themselves with plenty of dark details abound."
(Photo courtesy Adam Gnade)