Blacklisters’ Trickf*ck video has delighted and repulsed music-lovers. It’s a great introduction to the album and they are touring to get the word out that it has launched.
It’s definitely not a concept album and the songs sort of dither in and out around being about stuff and not being about stuff. In terms of the sound we tried to make it capture as much of what we put into our live show as possible so it would be a true reflection of what our band sounds like.
But at the same time as that I think we were all really conscious of the fact that we didn’t want to make an album of just like a set of 10 tunes which we’d done and stick them on a record, we wanted to actually show the fact that we do really spend a lot of time writing the stuff which we do live. Our live set is quite raw and aggressive so people could be blind to that. We put a lot of time into making these songs.
We wanted to know what influenced the band - there’s more than a bit of punk in their attitude. Front-man Billy reveals there are some American inspirations too.
We listen to a lot of stuff from the late 80s early 90s, around that sort of touch and go era of music in Chicago so you’ve got bands like Big Black through to the Jesus Lizard, and Rapeman, and all of that sort of stuff, and Shellac onwards. Of course there’s bands around England, like we’re on the same label as Kong who’ve been a huge influence on us.
I guess in that respect we are a noise rock band. There’s elements of hardcore in there, some punk, some rock. I guess some grunge. It meanders among those sort of things, I think.
So how do they get that level of passion and rawness live?
I would love to say that it comes from some sort of violent emotional heartache and anger against some sort of system of something, however it really isn’t.
Finding the true Blacklisters vibe was a long process he says.
When I first started out being a frontman in a band I was like quite insular, I didn’t know how to make myself be all that I wanted to be in terms of being like an out-there sort of guy and that came with confidence which grew through just doing gigs. I guess the thing is this sort of ‘right, this is what we do’ kind of thing and that’s how it sets out, how I set myself out anyway, it’s like showtime, this is how it goes, you know?
I think I was a bit of a show off when I was a kid. I think it was a balancing act with being in a band, like there was a time when I was much more extreme and I sort of reined it back in a bit because it was like I was just doing these things for show and that totally isn’t who I am, you know? It kind of has to be how I feel naturally with the moment of what I’m doing, I guess is the thing. Or what I end up doing. Including the things that I say and the stuff that I … get myself up to. It’s all whatever I just decide to do on the spot really, which means sometimes it just falls flat on its face. Or I fall flat on my face, which has happened a few times!
The band write songs together, starting with the riffs.
How it works as a band is somebody will come with a riff and that is pretty much the starting point of everything. We don’t necessarily write more than one bit quite a lot of the time it’s one bit with an idea of how you think it might sound. I sing a lot of stupid stuff into my phone sometimes. The amount of things we’re going through in order to come up with the songs we have would blow your mind. We just kind of accumulate a lot of stuff and sack off a lot of it if it doesn’t take, then sometimes we don’t keep it. Some songs we battle with because we know we like it but we don’t know what to do with it, we don’t know what the next step with it is and we try and try and try to find the answer to it.
Our single Trick Fuck there’s just one riff that I think was written in a session, and another one of our songs, Club Foot By Kasabian, I came in with an idea for a riff which I literally just sang into my phone about five minutes earlier and we wrote the whole tune within that night. And those are really good, it’s really enjoyable to write tunes like that because when you do those things it’s really exhilarating because you feel like you’re creating, being creative.
Whereas the ones where you’re like banging your head against the wall endlessly trying to find the answer but ultimately it’s just as satisfying when you do find out. Like one of our tunes, Swords, took a long while to write but it’s one of our favourite songs and one of our longest-running tunes as well.
There’s a lot of blues in the band’s background.
It’s bizarre considering the band we are now, we started off we all used to play blues in one way or another way, our guitarist is an amazing blues guitarist and plays in this band called the SSSSS – I think that’s enough S’s, who are an amazing blues band.
In one way or another, we were just sort of playing different blues tunes in bands in Leeds and we just sort of met each other when other things that we were doing sort of fell apart, and decided to do something a little bit heavier and a little bit rawer and it gradually went from that sort of thing into what we are now, I think.
The Leeds rock scene has been a big influence too, from house parties to established venues. Blacklisters have a permanent rehearsal space on the top floor of an old mill in Leeds, the perfect place to hone their own brand of noise rock.
I think the bands that have had the biggest influence on us as a band - not to do with our sound necessarily - but it’s the bands we’ve been lucky enough to be friends with as part of the Leeds scene. Bands like Hawk Eyes who were Chickenhawk, and Pulled Apart By Horses.
Bands like that who are friends of ours who we’ve known and been able to learn from not just as musicians. All the promoters and the labels and all the things that happen in Leeds I don’t know if they’re unique or not, they probably aren’t, but they feel very special in terms of impact on us, how we feel, how we can go about things, so we don’t have to compromise on what things we do.