Accomplices: Heather Peterson, Pat Mauro, Mike Jordan, Joe Hxc, Stephanie Brown and Ben Kellogg
Photographs by Heather Peterson, Black Plague Photography
As you may remember, last month I battled a fully automated, M-40A3 Hobot, capable of emitting a high-powered energy beam out of her mechanical vagina. Our clash ended with me being obliterated, save for one of my claw-covered arms ( see Shattered Realm feature). It has lain in that alley all this time, waiting for the right mixture of blood and semen to reactivate my undead DNA - thus reanimating me back into the mortal world - where I might continue my killing spree.
Fortunately for me, such an opportunity came by way of a little, touring band by the name of Blacklisted, who foolishly chose to play in Denver on their current road jaunt. As Hardcore groups go, this Philly-based outfit is a force to be fuckin' reckoned with. A fulminating steamroller of aggression, few bands can match the energy and clenched-fist acrimony that Blacklisted unleash not only as a live act, but as a band in and of itself.
Rising from the ashes of a previous project back in 2003, vocalist George Hirsch and guitarist Tim Smith wanted to start a new band - one that could better serve as an outlet for their musical tastes and personal feelings on what Hardcore could be. After a couple of member changes, the new group quickly fleshed out with drummer Shawn Foley and bassist Chris Ross (most recently, Chris moved to guitar and new member, Bean, has taken over bass duties). Shortly thereafter, Blacklisted secured a deal with Stillborn Records, on which they released their debut EP, the classic Our Youth Is Wasted. The release made a strong impact on Hardcore enthusiasts and word spread quickly about this volatile new voice - with favorable comparisons made to groups like the esteemed American Nightmare.
But the band soon realized that Stillborn wasn't the right label for them and the two parted ways - leading Blacklisted to ultimately sign with Deathwish Inc., where, along with the release of a split-seven-inch with California's First Blood, the band re-released their EP ( retitled We're Unstoppable, with the band's original demo added as a bonus). After a long overdue road venture, the group headed back into the studio with Ben Seigal, emerging ten days later with their debut, full length The Beat Goes On. The resulting 23 minutes of blistering, violence not only sonically captured the energy the band commands live, but quickly pushed Blacklisted up to a whole new level. Blacklisted are quickly being added to everyone's list of must hear, must see Hardcore bands.
Which is why I had to kill them.
Fortunately for me, I owe my victorious return all to George's exigent wee wee. Blacklisted's visit to Denver gave the venturesome vocalist an opportunity to secure the oral talents of female, mortal prostitute walking the streets nearby the venue the group was scheduled to play in later that night. After exchanging currency, the two mortals headed to the nearest alley...the very same alley my severed arm had been lying in, waiting with anticipation...
L - R: Tim, George, Chris, Shawn, Bean
Click on pictures to enlarge (in new window)
It is I, Maris The Great!...You shall now tell me why Hardcore is your music of choice.
Tim: Hardcore is like life to us. Every night we get up on stage and play our Hardcore songs. When I was growing up, that is what got me through every day. When I was skateboarding or doing homework or arguing with my parents, it's what got me through. I got into it through Punk Rock. So then I got into Minor Threat and Negative Approach and then worked up to heavier stuff.
Shawn: I also got into Hardcore through Punk and Metal. On the Punk side, I got into Black Flag and Minor Threat. I wasn't a huge fan of that stuff, it was just something different. On the Metal stuff, definitely Sepultura. You could always tell they had ties to Hardcore, they would give shout outs to Hardcore bands.
Your drumming style does reminds me of Iggor.
Shawn: Yeah, he was a huge influence on my drumming when I started. Hardcore has been with me through the ups and downs of my life. It has always been really important to me through the downs. Every time I went to shows, all I wanted was to be playing on that show. I wanted to be in the band all the kids were coming to see. I wanted to give back to the kids the same thing I received while I was coming up.
George: Hardcore found me. I was at a stage in my life where I had all this aggression and I didn't know how to handle it. A lot of the people where I'm from were going one way and I never wanted to be like them. I never wanted to be like the dude that went to College. When I wake up, I'm not like "Dude that goes to a job." I'm "Dude that goes and plays a Hardcore show." Hardcore was filled with all this aggression and honesty. I'd go see bands and feel like I should be doing that.
Bean: Hardcore has kept my head straight...
Wait a minute. Who the hell are you?
Bean: I'm the newest member. I've only been in the band for a couple of weeks.
Since when is Blacklisted a five-piece?
George: Well, I've known Bean for a long time. Hardcore is like a friendship thing to me. So...I'm not going to lie...Chris, our guitarist now, is like the most miserable human being that has ever lived (everybody laughs). We were in Europe, playing as a four-piece and when Chris would play bass, he just wasn't into it. He wanted to play guitar. I knew Bean for a long time so he came to me and said, "Hey, if your bassist doesn't work out, I'll play bass. So, I went to Tim and Shawn and we talked about it. At first, we were hesitant to make Blacklisted a five-piece. However, we realized, ultimately, keeping Chris by making him guitarist was more important than losing him as a bassist because he's important for our band. So when we asked him if he wanted to play guitar, he was "yeah!" He was psyched to play guitar because when he plays bass he looks like a dickhead (more laughter). So, we headed off to do a tour of Europe and I told Bean to learn the songs because were going to rehearse as a five piece once we came back. When we got back, he knew all the songs.
If you were gay, would you want to have sexual intercourse with Bean?
George: Yeah (laughs), just because I've known him the longest.
Intriguing. So, mortal Bean...you were saying?
Bean: Hardcore has always given my life meaning. Some times I've strayed away, but I always come back. This is what has kept my head above everybody else. Hardcore and Punk Rock saved my life.
I see...so, that brings us to the happily miserable Chris. So, what's your story?
Chris: I was a Metalhead my whole life. I listened to Death Metal and I still do.
At one time, did your skull sport long, Death Metal hair?
Chris: No, just a little hair
George: Bullshit (laughs)
Chris: It was a little long, but not ridiculously long. The reason I got into Hardcore is because I didn't like the arrogance in Metal. Everyone acts like rock stars and it's really hard to communicate with everybody.
I think mortals in Hardcore can be just as arrogant.
Chris: To a degree that's true, but it's a lot more grounded. Also, I like the vibe of Hardcore a little bit more. So, being in the band is very important to me. I'm going to ride it out until the wheels fall off. I don't know how long I can do it, because I have a disease.
Really? Which one inflicts your cadaver?
Chris: Diabetes. It gets tough some times. When I get sick, I feel like I get sicker than everyone else. When my sugar gets high, I feel a little more run down. Blacklisted are pretty solid. They schedule things around me and really help me out a lot. They make me feel happy about being in the band. I'm grateful that they let me do this. I've been in other hardcore and Metal bands and I haven't ever had the opportunity to do this with the disease.
Are you afraid your cadaver will go into insulin shock while you venture out on the road?
Chris: Actually, the other night my sugar got pretty low in a hotel around three in the morning. Everyone else was sleeping. They woke up and made sure I was OK. I just knew I needed to eat, so I ate a couple of sugar packets and I felt a lot better.
You stick needles in your cadaver, do you not?
Chris: Yeah, I take about three or four injections every day. I usually go into my stomach area, like my abdomen, but lately, my boy George has been coming through and giving them to me in arm. It really helps because if you give yourself a shot in the same spot, you callous up and it's not that good.
Such a shame to take such extensive measures to save your pathetic, mortal existence only do face death right now!
Chris: So true.
Blacklisted were on Stillborn Records and then moved to Deathwish Inc. Why the change?
George: Stillborn wasn't the right label for us.
George: I think that we were psyched that Jamie Hatebreed wanted to sign our band. But once we were on it, I don't think it was everything we thought it would be. Nothing against Stillborn, but labels aren't always the best thing. A lot of bands will see us and say "They're on Deathwish!" But the truth is, we're in debt just like any other band. We have enough money to eat on the road and help Chris out with Diabetes, but that's it. We sacrifice, like anybody.
So how did you get off of Stillborn?
George: We were looking for a label to buy us off of Stilborn. There were labels that were interested and at the time it was better for us because we were a smaller band. It's cool and it makes more sense to grow with a label. So Deathwish, who put out a lot of great releases, just made sense for us to go with. They're friends and easy to work with.
So what would your advice be to a younger, mortal band, that's excited to be signed to a label?
George: I would tell them to trust their instincts and go with what they feel. Don't let anyone trick you.
Tim: Don't worry about dollars and cents. Don't worry about what other bands are on that label. Whatever they promise you - it's all empty. Go with what your gut feeling is.
George: I'll meet young bands and they'll talk about Sound Scan stuff. We didn't even know what a Sound Scan was until recently. Not that we were naive, but we were naive in the sense that we had more of Punk aesthetic to all of this. We just got in our van, went and played. Tim still books us to this day. We don't have a booking agent or manager. It doesn't make sense for us.
Let's talk about the new CD The Beat Goes On. Why did you name it as such?
George: We're an aggressive band, but when I write lyrically, it's about my life. I've never written a song with the attitude of appealing to certain members of an audience. I only write what I know. I do Hardcore because it's what I know. In the year we were writing this record a lot was going in my life. I lost some family members and it made me realize life is always in this ongoing cycle. The beat goes on. God forbid that Bean would die tomorrow, but Blacklisted will keep moving on. Even if we ended the band, all of us will continue doing what it is we do, you know? It just seemed like a necessary title for the time.
Let's turn to a much more important topic. Who has the hairiest buttocks in your group?
Shawn. That would probably be me. Actually it might be a tie between me and Tim. Tim's English and so he's hairy, but I'm Italian I might beat him on that one.
Do you have hair all over your cheeks or is it mostly in between?
Shawn: I uh...I don't know. He has it all over so he trims it. I think that's weird, so I just let it ride as it is. That's how I'm going to let it stay (laughs)
Female mortals don't like male mortals with hairy buttocks.
Shawn: It doesn't matter. I still get laid so it's all good (laughs).
What's the wildest sexual thing a female mortal talked you into doing?
Shawn: There once was this girl, a Mexican chick, she was super into me...just...almost beating her up while we were doing it (laughs). Not like, raping her, but she really, really liked it aggressive. She wanted me to call her all these fucked up, nasty names (laughs). At first I was taken back by it all, but then I guess I just manned the fuck up and said alright! (Everybody laughs).
George: The craziest thing a chick ever talked me into was believing that she cared (everybody laughs)
Every time I interview a Hardcore band, they talk about going over to Europe. What is such a place like?
George: It's a trip being over in Europe. There is no fake aesthetic over there. They are just real people. They are very open. They come over to you and openly talk to you. They'll come right up to you and say "your new record sucks, your old one is amazing." They are that blunt and It's awesome. It's grounding because you might go over there saying "Our record's great!" and they'll say "Look, that shit sucks, don't play any songs off of that record" (laughs) Or they might come up and ask you for an autograph. And you're like "Uh, no, that's weird." And they're like "Fuck you, sign this" (more laughter). They are just very open people interested in learning about music. The U.S. is spoiled. We're over saturated over here. In Europe, they are open arms to whatever comes their way, but they know the difference between what is real and what isn't.
What was unusual about Europe?
Tim: We went to the capital of Germany, which is Hamburg and once there, we went to this place, that was very shocking to us, called "Hooker Alley." You basically window shop, like you're looking for shoes, but instead, you can look for the hottest chicks you've ever seen. You can talk to them, see what they are into, basically do whatever you want to do. You pay your money and you can walk in and do it. It was weird. There was a police station next to a Burger King and all the hookers were lined up in front. I will go on record and say that no one in Blacklisted partook in the red light district phenomenon.
Shawn: For me, visiting Europe was traumatizing for the first couple of days. I'm a very picky eater.
Oh!... that reminds me, I have something I need to ask you.
The rest of the band says that you're a bit on the neat side
Shawn: Yeah, I'm a neat freak (laughs).
So when you masturbate, do you freak out when your semen flies all over the place?
Shawn: Um...I don't know
Well, are you a gusher or a spirter?
Shawn: I...don't know, I've never looked.
You've never looked? Do you masturbate with a blindfold on? Well, let me ask you this, where does a neat freak masturbate, in the shower?
Where is usually "um where ever?"
Shawn: Well, I can be at the computer, looking at some hot ladies...
Ah ha!..so now we're getting somewhere. So, being you're a neat freak, are you careful not to let your semen fly all over the keyboard and screen or...
Shawn: Well I'll have some towels ready.
I see...so what if you're with a female mortal and she requests that you give her a pearl necklace? Does your neat-freak-ness interfere with such activities?
Shawn: I have no issues with that, I'll do that all day, everyday (laughs)!
Intriguing. So now you may continue talking about Europe.
Shawn: So anyway, as I said, I'm a picky eater. I've heard horror stories about the food over in Europe and sure enough, you can ask these guys, the first several days, I hardly ate anything.
George: The U.S. has a way of Americanizing you, so that when you go over to a place like Europe, every little thing causes culture shock. For Shawn, Burger King became the U.S. embassy (laughs).
Chris: Europe was a little crazy for me. I'm not a picky eater, so the food was fine for me. The thing that was weird for me was the day seems longer over there. Possibly it was just because of how organized it was. We were at the venue by 11:00 Am every day. Sound check was at 1:00 PM. Then, we would have all this time to do nothing. We got in a lot of site-seeing, but there's only so many times you can walk around a city.
If you could look into a crystal ball, what would you see lies ahead for Hardcore?
Tim: Hardcore is always going in circles, so as big as it's getting now, it will probably die, crash and hit rock bottom again. Of course the media is going to capitalize on it, but the real Hardcore will filter that out. You know, the kids that are wearing makeup and saying that they are Hardcore, but they don't know who the Cro Mags are, you know? The real stuff will come through and the media will move on to the new trend and Hardcore will be left where it was and where it belongs: In the underground.