Becoming an Adult with Blacklisters

Meet the finest noise-rock band from the north

Becoming an Adult with Blacklisters

By Glen Bushell

Sep 25, 2015 13:01

"Noisy, heavy, rhythmical, a bit bonkers, and in all good fun" says Blacklisters vocalist Billy Mason-Wood, when asked how he would describe how his band sounds. He couldn't have summed it up better. When listening to the bands latest album 'Adult', they are exactly the thoughts that come to mind. It is 40-minutes of intense cacophony, yet utterly inviting, and leaves you with a smile on your face.

Following on from their acclaimed album ‘BLKLSTRS’, their new full-length sees the band go from strength to strength, and they have upped their own game this time around. “The last album was just all the best songs we had at that point, and we were trying to find out who we were as a band,” he recalls, when looking back on their 2012 release. On ‘Adult’ it appears things are far more methodical. “We cemented that by the time we come to write this one, and we thought about everything more.”

It certainly shows as well, in the way the album twists and turns from startling bursts of energy to stripped back passages in the blink of an eye, with two songs in particular being defining moments that helped shape the album according to the vocalist. “I really like ‘Big Ticker’ and the bareness of ‘Priss’ towards the end of the album,” he admits. “It was around those points we realised the direction of the album, and the certainly have been getting the best reaction live,” he goes on to confess that he is far more invested in performing with the band than recording.

However, those that have heard it would agree that the intensity of a Blacklisters show has been captured as best it can be on ‘Adult’. It was perhaps a direct correlation to the way the band went about piecing the album together, working as a collective unit rather than having one designated songwriter. “We never write on our own, and everything you hear on the album was written collectively in our rehearsal space,” Mason-Wood says of the writing process. Of course certain songs have been built from an individual band members idea, and while it can lead to “some arguments, and good-natured disagreements” he laughs, it ultimately has made ‘Adult’ sound an incredibly organic album.

Although Billy Mason-Wood doesn’t see himself as a lyricist, he doesn’t need to be when the music on ‘Adult’ does the talking for Blacklisters. Take the controlled chaos of ‘Shirts’ for example, on which his larynx-shredding vocals flow with precision, he admits he “just likes the way certain words sound over pieces of music” and utilises his powerful voice as another instrument to add to the delivery of their music.

Followers of the noise-rock genre will attest to the fact that it is a very niche market, but as we discuss the nature of the sound Mason-Wood enthuses he “[gets] great joy from the music we make. Its not nasty or horrible, which is why we like to have fun while we do it.” It’s a sentiment that rings true with many scene pioneers such as The Jesus Lizard, Shellac, or Pissed Jeans, all of which Blacklisters have been mentioned in the same breath as on numerous occasions. This is not something that worries the humble vocalist though, and he finds it flattering. “The comparisons are nice of course, but we never try to be another band, or think it should sound like another band,” he explains, “but there is a real camaraderie between bands of this style, and we are all doing this for the same reasons.”  Naturally, he does wear his influences on his sleeve, and professes to have stolen so much from Jesus Lizard vocalist David Yow, but in his own words admits he “will never be as good as David Yow, I wouldn’t even dream of trying,” with a laugh.

After nearly 10 years of being a band, you have to wonder what drives Blacklisters to keep going, and what fuels them. The answer it seems is very simple for the quartet from the north. “We’ve grown in a lot of ways, and learnt what we can do as a band inside our own limitations,” Mason-Wood muses. “Everything that I have in my life has pretty much come about because of this band. My relationship with my girlfriend, the friends I’ve made, and the experiences I’ve had are all because of this,” he says with accomplishment. This is a band that have certainly met, and exceeded their own goals.

So on the back of ‘Adult’, Blacklisters intend to keep doing what they are doing. “We want to just keep writing, keep touring, and keep making the music we love,” he ponders when asked what the future holds for the band. “The time has passed for us to quit our jobs, and as much as we nurture this, we know it isn’t going to be our career,” he adds with not one shred of regret in his voice. “We just want to enjoy what we have for as long we can,” which are wise words that any band should live by.


Blacklisters excellent new album ‘Adult’ is available now via Smalltown America, and you can read our review of it here.