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Interview: Blacklistt

Wednesday 21 May 2014

Interview: Blacklistt
For four of the founding members of Blindspott, changing their name to Blacklistt freed them from the pressure to create music with radio play in mind, and allowed them to get back to making the kind of music they wanted to hear. The fans have faithfully followed Marcus Powell, Damian Alexander, Gareth Fleming and Karl Vilisini on their journey from Blindspott to Blacklistt. Their debut album with the new name was released in September and went straight to #1 on the charts, proof that their music has a lasting appeal, nearly 17 years after the band was first formed. 

The band will be heading to New PlymouthWellingtonHamiltonAucklandNelsonChristchurch to celebrate the release of their new single Always. We caught up with guitarist and backing vocalist Powell to get a little preview of what we can expect from the tour.

What are you looking forward to the most about this tour?
We are performing songs like Ilah and Fall down off the first Blindspott album. Really looking forward to seeing the reaction from our fans on these and also hanging out with them after the shows!

How have rehearsals been going?
Intensely long hours. We are perfectionists so we work on everything. We play to a metronome so we are all tight. Also work on our stage act which is a workout in itself. We have a solid hour and a half set ready to deliver!

What can fans expect from the shows? Do you have any tricks up your sleeve?
A mix of old songs and new. New crowd participation tricks and a savage intro!!! Our fans know what goes on at a Blacklistt show and we work hard to entertain!

Does the enduring appeal of the songs surprise you? When you were writing some of your earliest Blindspott stuff, did you ever expect to still be getting requests to play them 10 years later?
Never imagined we would have this amount of sustainability. We wrote Nil By Mouth in 1997. It fascinates me how much of an impact we made in not only the NZ music scene but the hearts of our listeners. Truly grateful for the journey!

Do you ever feel a pressure to live up to the expectations of such passionate fans?
No. We feed off it. Makes us work harder and it's the reason we do this work.

What is your favourite venue to perform in?
I have affiliations with a lot of venues. Different experiences at each. It's hard not to call Powerstation home though. We have played so many shows there that it feels like we never leave.

Do you feel more at home in the recording studio or on stage?
Stage. We get to truly express ourselves through our music. Can't fake a performance.

How have you found the reaction to your debut album as Blacklistt?
It's been overwhelming. After so long out of the scene and to debut at number 1 on its first week is amazing. It's still in the top 20 now. Really grateful to our fans for the continued support. 

Does it feel like a debut/fresh slate to you or was it more of a continuation of the direction you were heading in with Blindspott?
More like a debut. Same same but different... We were given an opportunity to produce an honest album without the boundaries of rules. I think it's a true representation of our creativity. 

Tell us about the songwriting process for Always, and the day at Homegrown where you recorded the music video...
Always was written at Karl's place. I can tell you about the music as it's the place that starts our writing process. Karl and Gareth wrote the base of the track and we arranged it all together with our parts. When the music moves us it's easy to find lyrics to suit. With Homegrown we wanted to capture the fans and our live performance. Footage that I took on my camera, Karl's camera and friends of the band. We wanted to make it quite intimate and the video is the result