Thursday, October 2, 2008

Interview w/ George of Blacklisted

1. Top five favorite records as of right now?

1.) Fleet Foxes-Fleet Foxes & Sun Giant E.P.

(The song "Mykonos" off the "Sun Giant E.P.", The line "It aint often that you'll ever find a friend". Being in Blacklisted has given me the opportunity to go places that the social class I grew up in would never afford me. I've been places I can barely even point out on a map. It has been an experience to say the least. But being on tour and meeting other bands it seems like I have never really met any new "friends". I've mostly kept to myself, Showed up, Played and left. It is what I was/am here to do. However, when I am swimming inside my head thinking about things, I get a little depressed thinking that I've been to more countries or even states than I have actual friends in my life. Touring so much I've come back to every one of the friends I thought I had at home, Living a normal life, Growing up, quickly falling in to the comfort of what they are going to be for the rest of their lives(And I am proud of them and rooting for them). Meanwhile I am 26, I have not a penny to my name, All my belongings are in plastic target bins in the corner of an apartment and I am waiting to go to Japan. Somehow through that all that line ("It aint often that you'll ever find a friend") gives me a small feeling of comfort).

2.) Great Lake Swimmers-Ongiara.

( The song "Back Stage With The Modern Dancers," The line, "like roses growing their thorns, Getting ready to perform, With bare feet and painted faces they took their places, On shivering legs beneath," In a way I feel like I wrote that line. I have always felt that making music was this really beautiful thing. Its creation in a pure form. Its you bringing to the table what you have artistically and trying to make it mesh with what is, in my case 3-4 other people. With "Heavier Than Heaven" there was a lot more people involved than just the musicians. We wanted it to really be stunning on every level it could be, Packaging, Sound, etc , etc. Melissa Farley, Jake Bannon and Kurt Ballou all were part of it. So in the process all these people helped in its creation. And I think as a whole it came out really beautiful and at the same time really different from everything that is out or has came out in recent times. So in that respect it is a "Rose". But, once that was all over and we had to tour on it on our own just the 4 of us. None of those people would be there to help us really convey what we were trying to get across. We were completely stripped down and alone. It would be just us and the music, and it became a really volatile and violent thing. A good amount of backlash came and a good amount of praise came. A lot of emotion went into that album and in Blacklisted's own strange way, us playing live was our way of "Growing our thorns" in order to "Get ready to perform". The rest, Well you can decipher yourself. )

3.) Bon Iver-For Emma, Forever Ago.

(The album as a whole is great. It's a really solitary lonely album. The song "The Wolves[Act I & II"), The line "What might have been lost, Don't bother me". Through all the trials and tribulations Blacklisted has gone through I OFTEN think of quitting. But there is something in it that keeps me going, Some Un-seeable force. Probably the same force that keeps Hope Conspiracy making albums whenever they want. I recently did an interview with Norm Arenas of Texas Is The Reason and I asked him why he moved to Chicago and San Francisco after TITR The reason I asked him was because recently I have really been thinking of walking away from Blacklisted and more specifically they are the two places I would move. His answer was really inspiring. Part of it was after T.I.T.R was over people kept asking him about it. I don't want that to happen. I have never wanted the "fame" that has come with being in a band. A lot of people are mislead thinking Blacklisted is some huge phenomenon but the fact is we are not. But we are what I always wanted to be with a band, I've never compromised anything artistically to be what I wanted this band to be. So when Justin Vernon sings the line "What might have been lost, Don't bother me" it hits home. Because when I do walk away from Blacklisted, I want it to just go away. Like all the people who have quit the band over the years. Like when we first started, 4 kids unknown to the hardcore scene just making music.)

4.) PJ Harvey-White Chalk.

(PJ Harvey's best work. An extremely dark album. The song "When Under Ether," there is a specific line "Conscious of nothing but the will to survive". One of the hardest lines in music history. Hardcore/Punk bands can only wish they could write something as powerful as that. Every time I hear that line it kills me. It sums up how I feel as a human. As depressed as I may get the bottom line is exactly what she says "survive" and to advance in life whether it be anything from a plumber to a musician, You have to dedicate yourself to it. 110%.)

5.) Jesu-Jesu

(Justin Broadrick, One of the most talented musicians in "Independent Music". The song "We All Falter," Will break your heart. However, there is another song "Friends Are Evil" with the line "And all the stones you've thrown, They come from your highest throne, Pass them on to me below, They remind me nothing lasts". When you are in a band your main function is to create/make music. Recently it feels though, that in the hardcore scene there is much more you have to do. You have to be "cool," fit the mold, say the right things, know the right people. Its fickleness makes it a very difficult thing to function in. One minute you are being praised, the next you are being ripped down and defamed. You cant trust anyone in it. Through all the emotions that you have thinking about it, whether it be Anger, Frustration, Etc Etc, The truth is, It's really just Lonely. Its sad to know that nothing lasts. Its sad to see something you create get destroyed because it's not "Cool," but at the same time knowing that the people destroying it have never given anything positive in their life. They have never given a piece of themselves for the world to have. They just sit at home and cast judgement on something they are to afraid to even really be a part of. Its sad to see the place you've come to to feel comfortable is now a place where you somehow feel the most outcasted.)

2. What were you listening to in ninth grade?

Hmm, I was in 9th grade in 1996. I got into hardcore the summer before 9th grade and it became my main focus musically. I tried to listen to as many albums as possible and see as many shows as I could. Locally I really liked Ink & Dagger. Ink & Dagger was probably one of the best bands I have ever seen artistically. Sean had a zine called "Dead By 23" Which in a weird way is responsible for a lot of the music that I am into today(Non-Hardcore related). He had a very eclectic taste and was always looking for new sounds. R.I.P.

3. What records get the most play when you're touring? What gets played in the van?

Everyone has a different thing they listen to. It varies everyday. Sometimes we are all psyched on one thing, Sometimes we cant even decide what to listen to. When we want to just choose something that no one will have any qualms about we will put on Dinosaur Jr or Nirvana.

4. So I think every single person who has heard Heavier than heaven has established that it's a perfect record. It's so well rounded, so many different elements. What odd records did you listen to a lot while you recording it and while writing it?

Specifically an odd album that comes off the top of my head that was listened to would be Neutral Milk Hotel-On Avery Island. There is so much stuff surrounding the second album "In The Aeroplane Over The Sea" but "On Avery Island" is just as good. The sounds on it are great. His voice and lyrics are great. The album is just a completely punk album. It's amazing. Listen to the song "April 8th" It will make you a believer.

5. Would you rather be an Indian or a Cowboy?

A very difficult question. One I have pondered many times. Along with the other classic, "Would you rather be a wizard or a warrior?". Native Americans have many great qualities. Being a Hunter/Gatherer, It doesn't get any more agro-male then that, You get to kill buffalo with a fucking bow and arrow, How cool is that? Being one with the land. Native American music and art is really amazing. Scalping enemies, Thats a true mans work. Wearing their teeth and ears around your neck. A true warrior.

A Cowboy is equally as cool. Working on a farm. Herding cattle. Riding horses. If you choose to be an "Outlaw," Robbing trains, Stagecoaches and Banks. Having shootouts and saloon brawls. Billy the Kid was a great example of a "cool" cowboy. Died at 21 and killed 21 people in his life, One for every year he was alive. Doc Holiday was great, at least the way they depicted him in Tombstone. For someone that wasn't real, Clint Eastwood as The Man With No Name, Epitome of western cool. I don't know what I would pick its too hard of a decision.

6. If you could handpick a lineup to play with, who would it be?

Bands to play with? Or people to play in my band? Id love to play with Dinosaur Jr, Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine. And Id love for any member of any of those bands to play in a band with me. Haha.

7. Since I know you've seen Cat Power tons of times, what was your most memorable time seeing them?

When I was 16 I snuck into this club and as I was walking up the steps she was running down looking upset, she breezed right by me. I guess she had a fit on stage and left. I didn't get to see her actually play but it was one of the best shows I ever saw. Another time I saw her perform with just her and a guitar and then her at a piano. She had some back up musicians playing guitar but not like she does now. She played for close to 2 hours it was great. She was at her best that night. The new version that sounds like an old Tennessee blues band, Im into but it doesn't grab me as much as her early albums. One thing I love to do is put Moonpix on a playlist with Smog's "Knock, Knock" and play it on random. Both albums were written around the same time with what seems like a lot of similar topics, Her and Bill Callahan broke up before those records were recorded/released. They go really good together. The Smog song "Left With Only Love," Will destroy your whole life. "When I lost you I lost my family, You did what was right to do, And I hope you find your husband and a father to your children."

8. When was the time/band/show where you knew Blacklisted was going to become, ultimately, your life?

I don't know that there was a time. I just started the band and never stopped. I kept going and going. I also don't know if Blacklisted is really much of a life. Its more of an outlet I suppose. I think it's the process of making music that keeps me here. Just being able to create music and have that outlet.

9. What are some of the most memorable shows/concerts you've ever attended?

One that sticks out that I saw in the last year or so is Down at the electric factory. It was so loud. Every member was in top form. Before they played they had a screen that they played music videos on. They played Cro Mags, Bad Brains, Crowbar, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and a bunch of others. It was great. A true rock experience. Another is Leeway who played Cbgbs a few years ago with Maximum Penalty. Me and Shawn the drummer of Blacklisted went out to see it. Maximum Penalty(One of the most underrated New York Hardcore bands) Got on stage and destroyed it. "Yo we are only playing old stuff, Strictly the demo and first 7" and they did. Then Leeway got up there and played perfect, They even included "Foot The Bill" off of "Open Mouth Kiss," Another highly underrated piece of New York Hardcore history. Anytime I saw Burn was amazing. Especially the first reunions they did in the 90s at the YWCA in Philadelphia. It was perfect. Chaka showcasing what it is to be one of the best frontmen ever. Gavin, Need I say more?

10. What is your recommended reading list?

Paul Auster wrote a book called "The Book Of Illusions" that I read in the last year, It's a really good book. Raymond Carver wrote a book of short stories called "Cathedral," A lot of the stories are a little longer then what he had been known to write. The story "Chef's House" particularly is a really good read. I read a biography on Houdini recently, One of the most interesting characters in our Worlds History. I don't really have a specific taste when it comes to books. Ill read most anything as long as it captures me in the first few lines or paragraphs.

11. Current hardcore bands your into?

Let Down. I think they work extremely hard and just go for it. A true example of what punk/hardcore should be. Plus they are straight edge which is always a bonus. Ceremony. Trying a lot of different things on their newest record, All of which worked perfectly within the realm of what they already sounded like. Rhythm To The Madness. True Musicians. From Belgium, Playing hardcore better then almost any band from America. Cold World. The new record is one of the most catchy albums in a long time without compromising what they already set out to do. Nick Woj and Alex are 2 of the best songwriters in hardcore right now. Alex's guitar playing and vocals on that album alone are worth listening to the album at least once a day.

12. What should we look out for from Blacklisted in 2009 and beyond?

Im not sure. Lets see if we get through the year first. But if it happens, A new record that will further remove us from modern punk/hardcore and further catapult us to the top of the mountain known as "obscure" or "this record will be appreciated in 10 years"

13. Any shout outs...

Whoever is still bearing with me...

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