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Guitarist for Nu-Metal band Blacklistt, Marcus Powell, is taking a break when the phone rings. “A bit of a relief” he tells me. It’s good to do an interview right now. Take the heat off. He’s in the middle of getting ink done. What could be more rock’n’roll? “Im getting a hawk, holding a heart and inside that is a compass. It’s right across my chest. For me the ‘the hawk’ is the all-seeing eyes. It can only see what’s in front of it. And its holding the heart because, to me, what ever direction you’re going, that’s your compass – so follow your heart!” True that. And he reminds me that only with pain is there the gain, a message portrayed on the cover of Blacklistt’s new self-titled album, which is due to release on Friday the 13th. The art is a blended slash of a skull, fantail and a blood rose. “Damien (Alexander, vocals) came up with the idea. But it’s a collaborative thing – we’re four highly creative, highly opinionated perfectionists so it’s no wonder it’s taken us so long. When know we’ve got a good product when we all finally agree!” And for Blacklistt, it’s also a kind of phoenix moment, the band rising from the legal ashes of a bitter feud between them and former drummer Shelton Woolright over the legal use of their former name. “A lot of the reason why it took so long was that battle. We wanted to get Blindspott back. We are Blindspott. We asked Shelton if he wanted to be part of it (when we reformed) and he never replied then we got offered Homegrown (in that same year), we offered him to come in but then out of the blue we get a Court order to shut down.” And we thought “oh well! Let’s sort this out but it didn’t and we thought if we keep on fighting it will never get sorted.” Powell’s referring to Blindspott’s reunion in 2009. Two years before, after 10 years together and many publicized band fallouts along the way, Blindspott had disbanded to focus on solo efforts. But in 2009 the band announced they were reuniting for a one off at the all-Kiwi Vodafone Homegrown Music Festival in the Capital. The gig went well, all be it without Woolright. Encouraged, they decided to write new material, reforming with its earliest, original members: Damian Alexander (vocals), Marcus Powell (guitar, backing vocals), Gareth Fleming (bass) and Karl Vilisini (turntables, keyboards). Then suddenly on 26 September 2010 Woolwright pulled their Facebook page down, the same day they were confirmed for the line up in the following year’s Homegrown. The next day a photo was posted by a band member showing Tristan Reilly as the new drummer for the band. Just prior to the 2011 Homegrown gig Woolright had the band’s Facebook page pulled down again and this time he sent in sent the legal eagles. “But you know”, Powell surmises “the best thing that could of happened is us saying F***k it! Keep it (the ‘Blindspott’ name). “And it was amazing as soon as we let go of that, all these other doors opened up.” Ironically, appropriately the band headed at Homegrown 2012 again before touring the new From the Blind Spot show, which sold out virtually everywhere. The fan base was still with them, despite the name change. “They are pretty hardcore,” says Powell. “Seeing the numbers that turned up was phenomenal, it built pressure to release an album.”
The new work is, he suggests a stark contrast to recording the second Blindspott album, End the Silence. Previously there was a lot of pressure to produce three-minute radio friendlies. “But we thought “we’re not Blindspott” so F***K that”. We’ll jam it the way we wanted. A six minute track is just fine, eh? No boundaries.” Freeing up the creative ‘juices’, even meant turntablist Karl Vilisini “weird fruity stuff” got a look in, at least on the surface. A “writer’s weekend” on Waiheke Island last year produced many of the album’s key music “Productive but good to just hang out, chill as mates, and it definitely brought a vibe back.”
The new single “Home” written there, renamed from “Waiheke Dub”, featuring Albert Cook (Three Houses Down) on drums. It recalls the poignancy of earlier singles like “Phlex” whilst showcasing a very different side to Blacklistt’s sound. In the summer months Blacklistt hit Parnell’s York Street studios with engineer Hayden Taylor following hard-out ‘perfection’ rehearsals at their space, the Killing Room. Overall this album brings back the assault of Blindspott’s first album and the original energy of a group of fifth formers, circa 1997. As for their hopes for Blacklistt Powell’d love go #1. “Blindspott were only local act in history to have two consecutive albums debut at the top! That’d be cool! But no matter – making music is n our DNA. Our fans want it, we want it. So there you are!” Following its release on 13.09.2013 the band hit the road, “taking this album to our fans will be like delivering on a promise.” Pledge allegiance!