Blacklisters in interview: “Aim high, shoot low. It seems to work”.

Blacklisters in interview: “Aim high, shoot low. It seems to work”.

| Abril 10, 2018 9:11 pm

Blacklisters in interview: “Aim high, shoot low. It seems to work”.

| Abril 10, 2018 9:11 pm

Last saturday, april 7th, we had a chat with Blacklisters in the backstage of Hard Club, Porto. By then, they were in the middle of their 11-concerts tour (alongside with the USA Nails). And that night, before they got on stage, we wanted to find out more about the band. As of now, they released two albums, three EP’s, a single and some splits (you can find/buy some of their work here), and you can read the full interview below, to get to know them better.

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How’s the tour going so far? Because I know you’re doing, like, 11 shows in a row. It’s tiresome, I can imagine… 

Billy – It’s been a bit of a mix…
Steve – It’s been a mixed bag.
Billy – Last night was really fun.
Steve – You had the best night of your life.
Billy – I had the best night of my life! The night before was a bit depressing (Laughs).
Dan – Everywhere we’ve been though, people have been really nice, very friendly country, very comfy beds (laughs) very nice food. People like our music. That’s good.

Who are the Blacklisters? As a band, what is your ethos? 

Alistair – Have we got an ethos?
Dan – Aim high, shoot low (laughs) it seems to work. 
Billy – Just keep going.
Alistair – Basically break even.
Dan – (laughs) basically break even (laughs) That’s a good t-shirt. That’s a life lesson (laughs).
Billy – Just do it as long as we like it.
Steve – Just try to forget it as you go (laugh) 
Dan  Live in the present. Ask me another question (laughs). 

I’ve never been to the UK. But from reading a couple of interviews you guys gave, I get the impression that Leeds is the best city to form a noise/post hardcore/heavy af rock band. Why is that? Being you guys a part of that community, what do you think?

Billy – I think is ‘cause is like, is not that big. It’s a big university town. But the city isn’t like huge and sprawling, so everyone, all the students are in one place and lots of people coming through all the time. There’s not that many places to play I guess. It’s different to a place like London, where people are all over the place…or Manchester, where people are all over the place, where everyone is kind of in the same place. But, I mean…so that’s kind of why it is, I think. Lots of people come, they stay and then, it’s constantly refreshing ‘cause people move on, bands get old and they stop or whatever but…because there’s always new people coming to town and then they’ll be inspired to perhaps start new bands. It’s always kind of updating and progressing and that’s kind of why I think Leeds has been so good. And continues to, ‘cause even when you think they’re out of bands, suddenly there’s about five more bands that have arrived, there’s a new scene emerging, like well, a bit like old…
Alistair – We’re on the way out (laughs).
Billy – We are. But there are ones coming through who are great.
Alistair – It’s a healthy scene. Sorta DYI, if you like. Independent venues and collectives in Leeds that makes it easy for our kind of band to function there. 

What is your creative process? Like, what is a day in the studio with the Blacklisters? 

Steve – It’s a bit strange. 
Billy – It’s a bit different now. It has changed.
Steve – Well…so, I’ve not been in the band very long and I live in London, which is quite far away from Leeds. Two hours on a train so it’s…yeah. And then, you (pointing at Billy) live in Berlin. 
Billy – I moved to Berlin in september. Two hours on a plane.
Steve – So we don’t practice as such. I think before the first gig I did with you we only had one practice.
Billy – And we just kinda stuck to that as a method (laughs).
Steve – But, like, with writing, we send things back and forward via dropbox and listen to it and then meet up every so often.
Billy – Do a weekend of writing and then, you know, go away and then try again, a bit further down the line, that’s what we’ve done so far. It’s changed quite a lot in this last year ‘cause of me moving to Berlin, but yeah, that’s how we’re doing it.

From what I’ve read, you think the lyrics more in terms of how they sound rather that the message they convey. Was there ever a case when the opposite happened, like “we need to say this, exactly this”? 

Billy – No. Lyrics haven’t been important to me, really. Plus, the whole sound of the band is to kind of like have the vocals be a part of the music rather than being about the song. The song is the thing! With all of the instruments and the voice is one of those. It’s not really important what I’m talking about…

It’s all in the same layer.

Billy – All in the same layer, very two-dimensional (laughs).

What influences your sound? And also, what influences the visual of your videoclips? 

Billy – Good people who’ve worked with us. We don’t like to take things too seriously, I guess. We don’t like things to be too serious. Because when I think you’re an aggressive band it’s quite easy for people to think that you’re angry and we’re not serious at all.
Dan – Are we not serious? (laughs) 
Billy – We like to keep things quite light and kind of have fun with it and be a bit dumb.

Alistair – Daft.

Billy – Daft!
AlistairDan did some artwork for our last 7 inch cover.
Dan – Oh yeah. What influenced me there? My own face (laughs), pictures on the internet (laughs) and the rest of my own face (laughs). Yeah. Just stuff that happens innit, and mistakes (laughs) 
Billy – We had a bit of a heavy night last night and so I think we’re all feeling a bit worn today. There two are great (Steve and Alistair), I’ve curled up in a ball of my own sadness in the back of the van as we drove here.

You just said it was like, your best night ever.

Billy – Yeah exactly! But that’s why. 
Dan – This is the low off after that.
Billy – Yeah, yeah.

Dart, the follow-up of Adult, the EP you’ve released through the late and great Too Pure Singles Club. And even though it is an EP, I find in Dart a much more in-your-face approach than I did in Adult. Will you guys be aiming for a similar approach in your next album? What can we expect?

Dan – Yeah, I think we’re trying to write simpler songs and songs that you can tap your foot to and have a dance. And ‘cause of our circumstance now, writing songs quicker, just making the process quicker and not always adding stuff. Just being kinda decisive about it, so maybe, I don’t know it that makes it…
Alistair – Somehow it makes it more direct.
Dan – Yeah maybe. But not intentional, but maybe out of necessity.
Billy – Yeah, we don’t know how it’s gonna shape up but that’s the intention. Whatever we do, our next thing, our next album or whatever, we don’t know how it’ll sound like. But what we’re trying is to not take too long deciding. Years gone by and the first two albums took fuckin’ ages because we just couldn’t ever make our minds up, so we’re just making our minds up quicker.
Dan – I think it’s like, you’re trying to get somewhere with it, so you’re trying to force yourself, you know? Like, further, to get somewhere as well.
Billy – For like, this tour, we didn’t rehearse. We just turned up and (laughs). Just turned up to do tours and then just got better as we go along and, like, relying on the fact that we’re actually quite good. We kinda have enough experience at doing a band (laughs). Yeah, that’s what I think. Hopefully, that’ll come across in the way the next record sounds like.
Ten years have passed since the birth of the band. What can we expect from the…

Dan – The next ten? (laughs)
Billy – It’s a difficult time to ask that question (laughs). We had a frank chat of whether we should split up or not because we’ve been doing it for such a long time. This was a couple of years ago. And we all agreed that we’d keep on doing stuff while it was fun. So, when it’s fun, it’s great! Which is why when you kind of play a few, like, bad shows you start to argh…
Alistair – Ten more years of fun…
Billy – Ten more years of fun (laughs). I dunno. We do it for as long as we wanna do it, I guess. We kind of reached the point where I think we’re not gonna get any bigger and none of us have any hopes to achieve anything particularly. So we’ll just keep on putting out records and playing I guess, for as long as we want to.
Steve – I think is similar to what USA Nails just said. It’s a thing we do, it’s not thought out. 
Billy – No. Any of that sort of stuff died a very long long long long long time ago.
Steve – There’s no ambition. 
Billy – Going to new places is quite nice. 
Everyone – Yeah!
Billy – Opportunities, like, when USA Nails went to America. That’s kind of, like, a cool thing to do, I’d like to do that.
Dan – I’d like to play on top of a building like U2.
Billy – (laughs) Okay, easy. We can probably do it on top of it here.
Dan – Tonight.
Billy – Yeah. 

I don’t know if you can ‘cause the top is like…

Billy – Glass!
Alistair – Yeah.

No it’s not glass is like (I do a triangle with my hands)…

Billy – It’s pointed!
Dan – (Spreading his legs) Maybe just stand like that and (laughs)
Billy – Just lotta sitting in the splits. Sorry.

No worries. 
Guys, last question. It’s not exactly a question. Do you have any words of wisdom that you’d like to share?

Billy – Eat bread. Be in a van as much as you can.
Steve – Omellet sandwiches in Portugal contain ham, I learned today (laughs). I was so hungry that I just ate it anyway. I’m a vegetarian (laughs). That’s a bit of wisdom.
Dan – You love bacon though.

Steve – So my mother says…So, check the ingredients…

Billy – And be in a van…
Steve – And be in a van, yes! That’s the most fun time. 
Billy – (Laughs) Yeah it is. People think it’s the playing but actually, they’re wrong. The best bit of being in a band is sitting in the van. Going between places and don’t let anybody tell you differently (laughs).
Steve – We’ve got nine hours of it tomorrow.
Billy – Yeah, nine hours tomorrow. Yeah, we’ve traveled almost, like, three thousand miles…so, that’s a lot of time in the van. 
Alistair – Quality time.
Billy – Quality time in the van, yeah. 

Is it a comfortable van at least?
Everyone – Yeah!
Steve – It’s got a fridge, so yeah, it’s pretty comfortable. 
Billy – I know it sounds like we’re takin’ a piss, but there is something about like, it’s kind of like a thing you get into because you sit in a van so much…
Dan – Well, it becomes the only constant. ‘Cause you’re always going somewhere new, everything’s different every night, the van’s always the van. It’s always the van.
Steve – Yeah, so you kinda get drunk on it, drunk on the idea of being in a van all the time. Yeah…I know, I know…
Dan – We’re old. 
That’s a wrap.

Interview by: Edu Silva
Photos by: Edu Silva