By Carlos Ramirez |
Just a few weeks ago, Blacklisted announced that they would be returning to the stage for two shows in October after a long hiatus. That in itself would be news in hardcore circles, but the fact that Unbroken will also be attending the dates is the icing on the cake.
For the uninitiated, Blacklisted formed in the early 2000s out of Philadelphia’s hardcore scene. During their initial run together, the band released four studio albums and numerous EPs, plus various other releases and appearances.
The last time Blacklisted played live was in 2018 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Heavier than the sky, lonelier than God album, one of the best hardcore releases of its decade.
I caught up with Blacklisted vocalist George Hirsch (he’s currently in the excellent Staticlone) to talk about upcoming shows, what Unbroken means to him, and what the future holds for the hardcore Philly veterans.
How long have these two shows been in the works with Unbroken?
There was an offer to play with Unbroken in Philly last year, but the whole show never happened and we were still very hesitant at that point. I’m not sure of the details of why it didn’t happen.
I think the second or third week of July we confirmed that we would be playing the two that were happening. And we were only asked in mid-June? It really hasn’t been that long.
Still undecided as I write this. The other people in the group are more accessible to people than I am, so maybe they ask more questions about it, but in my world I never get asked about Blacklisted, so I almost thought it had faded into obscurity.
All the times I’ve been approached about Blacklist are usually funny – “Play ‘Eye for an Eye'” echoing down the aisle at Mariano’s in Chicago at 6:30pm on a Thursday.
So, you’re hesitating to get back in the saddle.
Yes, totally hesitant. I’ve said it before, but I had a really bitter experience with Blacklisted.
I created the group to connect with people, and it doesn’t seem like I’ve achieved that, it often feels like the complete opposite, but I really don’t know the real honest place of Blacklisted, I don’t know anything about it. I have no idea if it has aged well, if people ever liked it, if there is a place for it now, etc. I know it’s been a thing in my life longer than it hasn’t been, so that’s something.
How much rehearsal time do you plan to spend before the shows? I guess it’s hard to get everyone together since the members are spread out in different cities. What is the lineup we can expect in terms of members?
We’ve already started the rehearsal stuff. We all still play music, with each other and individually. So that was pretty easy to figure out. Staticlone is currently finishing an LP so we just have to have one more person and it’s blacklist practice. All four of us are actually living in Philly again. So rehearsing is actually pretty easy.
The lineup will be the last one that played five years ago. Nothing surprising.
Side note: I would play music with Zach [Trotta]— one of hardcore hardcore’s best hidden drummers in my opinion — and J.J [Pepito] again if possible. Not blacklisted, but something. This is a huge opportunity for me. And at some point the three of us talked about it. Not that you asked [laughs].
Since you won’t be keeping a specific record, how do you approach the setlist for these two shows?
I have no idea. The blacklist is a mystery to me. Maybe the albums are polarizing. It’s hard to know what to play other than our personal “we like this, so we play it”.
Dave made this email so people can email and say what they want to hear or whatever: [email protected]
What does Unbroken mean to you? When and how did you discover them back in the day?
Unbroken was instrumental in making me feel like there was a place for me in hardcore. There are a few bands that, if they didn’t do it first, I’m not sure I would have made the kind of hardcore that I have.
I idolized Floorpuch when I was younger, I think they are one of the greatest to ever do it. But at their concerts, I never felt connected to anyone or anything there. I just loved the band and that was it. With Unbroken, there’s an atmosphere that really connects people. They are powerful. I’ve always wanted this. That’s why I started Blacklisted, I’ve said it a million times — my desire to connect with people.
I’m not sure when I first heard them, I have this weird memory that this older promoter from Philly (Robbie Redcheeks) who I was pestering about bands and zines played it for me? But maybe I’m mixing it up with something else.
These shows will undoubtedly lead to the following question: Will there be any more Blacklist concerts/tours in the near future?
I doubt. Like I said above, I don’t even know the Blacklisted site. It doesn’t seem like the modern hardcore scene would be welcoming or connected to it. We would have to make new music, which would probably be impossible since we all have so many other projects already. But I guess anything is possible.
My goal in doing the shows is to try to do it and feel good afterwards. Compared to when we were on vacation before and I only had negative feelings about it. So, I guess it’s more of a personal thing, not really a planned future.
tagged: blacklist, static branch, unbroken