Scene Point Blank: Blacklisted nearly broke up in 2006. Obviously this was a major event not just in the band's life but yours as well. How was this reflected in the music and lyrics of the new album? Did the events of the near breakup change your outlook on life at all?
George Hirsch: The near breakup didn't influence the music or lyrics. However my outlook on life changed pretty dramatically. One minute you are in a van with someone everyday, the next minute that person almost dies and you are no longer around them. They move away and the only time you see them is when you are on tour. It's hard because you are so close with someone but in every sense of the phrase they feel so far away, you know you share some sort of "bond" so things will always be great between you but at the same time its like losing a family member. There is no fully recovering from it.
Scene Point Blank: I've read a few statements that compare Blacklisted to American Nightmare, which is interesting because both started as fairly traditional bands but on their second LP varied styles from lyrical content to songwriting and vocal delivery. Unfortunately American Nightmare broke up about six months after releasing that album. What is your response to this comparison and are bonds strong in the Blacklisted camp?
George Hirsch: I would disagree, I would say when American Nightmare started they came out with a different style. If you look at members previous bands they were nothing like American Nightmare. Ten Yard Fight???? I think right from the starting line American Nightmare was doing something greatly different from anything else that was around. Their change from record to record I feel was just the natural progression as musicians and people the same with Blacklisted. The Blacklisted camp I think is the strongest its been. We are all close friends. We don't hang out everyday but we keep in contact daily while we are home through email/text message. Everyone is pretty happy/excited to be in the band and do upcoming tours, maybe even write some new songs. It's all good.
Scene Point Blank: Hardcore used to be an all or nothing community. Individuals either listened to only hardcore or you were looked upon as an outsider. In recent years hardcore has taken on a much more eclectic sound and understanding mindset. Where do you see hardcore going in the next few years?
George Hirsch: I have no idea. My musical taste has always varied all over the place. But the bottom line is I am a hardcore kid. I think as long as those involved with hardcore who have a curious taste in all types of music still realize that hardcore has given them an alternative lifestyle not just a mosh part to go off too or a fast part to circle pit to, then everything will be alright and it will continue to be an interesting form of music to follow and be a part of.
Scene Point Blank: I live in New York City and the situations you explained regarding living situations in Philadelphia - a lot of gentrification - seems very similar to neighborhoods around me. There is also a large homeless population and large sectors of poverty. I describe life in this city as both breathtaking and heartbreaking, which is how I'd categorize Philadelphia too. What role does your setting play in Blacklisted's sound or lyrics? What about hardcore in general?
George Hirsch: You nailed it right there, "breathtaking" and "heartbreaking". I think those extremes are what make Blacklisted's sound and lyrics. Truth be told you do not meet many people involved in hardcore who actually grew up in or come from a city. It has become really suburbanized since I got involved. Even in a lot of major cities scenes, like Boston for example, the scene and a majority of its bands are made up of people from the surrounding suburban areas that are there for college and other things. So with that said I think that that may have part to do with what in my opinion sets Blacklisted apart from other current bands. Bands around now all claim some city one way or another but there is a difference between growing up there and moving there. Growing up there you have a constant sense of pressure, I would say claustrophobia even. I believe we reflect that sense of claustrophobia in our music. It all comes down to constantly being around people, them standing over you, bumping into you, the constant moving of all that is around you like the world never stops, taxis constantly zooming in and out of traffic, construction workers who wake me up at 6:30 AM because Philadelphia has become a hip place to live so now they are trying to build as many condos as they can to have living space readily available to those who want to make the leap from wherever they currently reside. I think our music reflects that in the ferocity of our fast parts with my vocals overtop just going for it and the sadness in our slowest/quietest parts and the violence in our noisiest parts. Our new album reflects that the most, there is something always going on within it, its just an intense reflection of our lives up to this point, for me personally all lived in the middle of Philadelphia.
Scene Point Blank: I recently spoke with Dan Yemin, another Philadelphia resident and asked him the following question. I ask you this because I recently read your blog post on the subject. Technology has it made it so easy for bands to grant themselves this aura of status; unfortunately a lot of them are just shit. How do they impact you as both someone who plays in a band and who is a fan of music?
George Hirsch: Technology is the new flyer. Plain and simple, that is what role it plays in Blacklisted. We post upcoming tour dates, record releases and other news. With the blog I've given a little more but that was a personal choice. With technology has come an era of bands that have never done anything or even people, you cannot just limit it to musicians. There are people out there who just because they post on whatever is cool that weeks board they have some sort of status without ever really contributing anything positive. It's also sad because people see that and hardcore has such a problem with being part of the "normal" that there are people who will just hate something just because it is popular within hardcore. I can see people hating something on MTV, whatever hip pop music is going down, but taking shots at a band because they work hard and are big within the hardcore scene? It doesn't make any sense.
Scene Point Blank: To take the question a little further technology has made it easy to obtain music prior to its intended release, free of charge. Again how does this impact you, first as someone who plays in a band, and second as a fan of music?
George Hirsch: It doesn't affect me either way. As a band we will always as long as we are together tour and play music, that's what matters to me. As a fan of music, I will always buy things that interest me or that I like. I still ask friends what they have been listening to and after soaking it in try to track down a copy of whatever albums they suggest. But I also don't believe that makes me a bigger fan of music then someone who downloads twenty albums a day. If you appreciate music you appreciate music, that's the bottom line. The feeling you get while listening to it or seeing it performed live, that is all that matters.
Scene Point Blank: Do you still feel that the meaning of the song "Tourist?" If so then why such a heavy touring schedule? If not, how difficult is it to find balance between home life and road life?
George Hirsch: I still feel the same. It is still difficult to find a balance between home and a heavy touring schedule. Home is so unfamiliar to me it is just insane. I think I toured myself into a Twilight Zone type of vortex where I woke up one day and touring is the only thing I know how to do and all my friends that I grew up with are surrounded around me with jobs and kids and wives and comfortable houses laughing at me as I struggle to carry a guitar cab up some stairs at a local VFW hall in a snowstorm while our van sits outside with a trailer that the wheel fell off.
Scene Point Blank: What kind of schedule does Blacklisted have for the rest of the year?
George Hirsch: So many things are in the works. Australia, Mexico, South America, Central America, North America, Japan. It will be pretty good.
Scene Point Blank: Anything else you'd like to add?
George Hirsch: Please take care of one another. Peace.