Blacklisters are one of the most energetic and exciting bands to watch in Leeds at the moment. Releasing their first full length album BLKLSTRS, Playing Camden Crawl and performing alongside American outfit Pelican, they are certainly turning heads. Counterfeit wanted to know a little bit more about the boys and lead singer Billy Mason Wood was the man to lift the lid on the four piece.
“Naming a band is literally the worst experience for any bunch of musicians who decide that they want to make music. It’s literally the shittest thing that you will ever do, because anything you come up with will never been any good.” Billy named the band after a brief political spell.
Billy Mason Wood, Dan Beesley, Owen Griffiths and Alistair Stobbart came together to create the Blacklisters in 2008 after dispersing from different jam and blues bands around the city. Even now their popularity is growing, the boys themselves remain a bit of an enigma “We keep ourselves to ourselves.
People think we are angry about stuff, but you only have to read the song titles to see that we’re not that serious about it, we’re serious about the music, but not the message
The leeds scene is quite insular, you kind of do what you want and then go back. We’re just idiots that hang out and play music together”. Hailing from different musical backgrounds, it may seem unusual that abrasive rock was the genre of choice. “We all listen to different kinds of music and this was just a way of getting out our heavier side that we are interested in out”.
You might not have thought that between them the creators of such abrasive confrontational rock work in a school, the NHS, teaching guitar and Dan the guitarist is a recent art graduate. “We would love to be able to do more then we do, but because of us having our jobs, it makes it a lot more difficult and that’s where the balance comes. Quality over quantity is the game that we play a lot of the time. Sometimes we can’t do stuff, we are coming up against losing money, or is it worth losing my job over? It’s kind of a shame, because you have to sacrifice more.” Even though their music might leave a few people on edge, they want to ensure that they are a very positive band. “People think we are angry about stuff, but you only have to read the song titles to see that we’re not that serious about it, we’re serious about the music, but not the message.”. They are not your a-typical rock outfit, and this is proven by the way they use their Twitter page reviewing service stations with Ryan from Hawkeyes.
“How many bands take themselves far too seriously? They are either sour and serious, saying life is so shit or they’re cool. Most of the stuff that I get up to and what my friends get up to is stupid and silly, just trying to make each other laugh. There is so much joy in that release that is in singing something really loud and in your face, that isn’t about being angry.” One of their tongue-in-cheek titles ‘Club foot by Kasabian’ has even backfired slightly as the PRS have started taking royalties in the belief it’s Kasabian’s song.
Despite the majority of positive reviews they have come across people that just don’t understand. “We’ve never really had a game plan. At the same time, we’re quite proud of what we do and how we do it. We do it in a particular way. People will like it or they won’t like it. You know, I’ve never felt bad when someone walked out of our gig half way through, because it’s fine people can not like it.”
Their open minded attitude to their music has certainly paid off and they were shocked about how their music has been received. ” Its more like a very surreal out of body experience. We’re not like go fuck yourself if you don’t like our music, we care about the music and we also care about the people who listen to our music. It’s like wow thank you so much for liking it and appreciating it”.
The bands friendly approach to their audience extends to their fellow musicians “My friends are the best people to play with, they are brilliant. I’m just starting to find out what is actually happening in Leeds, because I’ve been stuck in a rut of watching These Monsters and Hawkeyes. Playing with Kong is also a joy, I’ve never laughed so much when we’ve played with them.”
They have received a lot of support from local Leeds music scene and believe that Matt Reid (Whores Whores Whores) was responsible for their golden ticket. “We didn’t even know how big it was and how supportive it could be. Because you are on the outside looking in, it’s amazing. You’re jealous, and you don’t know how to get involved in it. He sort of opened the door to us, it was the best thing to happen to the band.” Another body that have been a big leg up have been Brew Records, “When they took us on in Brew, we’d gone from playing the odd gig here and there to stupid things that we thought we’d never do, like supporting Scratch Acid, which is like my dream gig, I can retire happy.”
The band are currently writing their second album which despite a few discussions about a change of direction they are going to stick to their style, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, to which Billy replied, “At least smash it about, and see if it needs to be fixed.”
They are playing Hevy Fest and will be taking a bit of time off as the drummer of the band is expecting his second child. Billy also informed us that the band have got a few surprises on the way, which he wouldn’t reveal.