I recently caught up with George (vocals) of Blacklisted to discuss the band's forthcoming, April 01, 2008 release Heavier Than Heaven, Lonelier Than God.

Please state your name and what role you play in Blacklisted:
I am George and I sing in this band called Blacklisted.

What made "I Am Weighing Me Down" and "Matrimony" the two songs selected to be the first to represent "Heavier than Heaven…"?
The whole time we arranged the album we kept in mind that it would be released in a 12" format. With that in mind we wrote the album accordingly, similar to the ways bands like Sabbath/Zeppelin had to write their albums (or really any musician pre-CD had to, those two were just more "influential" for us), with side A peaking at its last song and side B starting off at that peak and then setting its own peak. I guess since so much downloading goes on in these times, we figured we might as well write more focused towards "vinyl" because its more precious in the music scene we are apart of, not just for collectors purposes, but I think a majority of the people who listen to hardcore or for the most part any genre with in the "Independent music" tag, tend to be not just collectors only record collectors, but prefer to listen to it in that format above a CD, or through an iTunes window, which I think is great. I feel it gives our music way more personality, you have to think about it more before putting it on. If you want to put a specific song on, you have to put in work to do it: it takes more then the press of a button or the click of a mouse. It’s much more personal and there is a lot more soul behind it listening to it in that format, Its much more appreciated. We picked those two songs just because, "I Am Weighing Me Down" represented Side A. It also represented our songwriting on "Heavier Than Heaven..", It had a feeling of where we were going to be going with things. "Matrimony" is the same thing, but a side B representative, Matrimony also gave the feeling of though we have become better song writers we are still just as chaotic, so it made sense to release it to give that side of where Blacklisted is currently at.

Are you a big collector and listener of vinyl, yourself?
I was really into vinyl at one time. Then I started moving/touring so much that it wasn’t really in the cards to keep lugging crates of records everywhere, so I downsized. It was so depressing. I always say to myself that once my life slows down and I have a permanent residence I will get back into the "vinyl swing of things".

Other than Sabbath and Zeppelin, who are some of the bands that influence the music Blacklisted makes?
I don’t know if there are really specific bands. We listen to such a wide range of music. Recently someone described our record as if the Cro-Mags and Quicksand got together and wrote a record that sounds like an early Sub Pop Records release. I don’t know how accurate that is or if it even makes sense, nut it was the most flattering thing anyone has ever said about anything we have ever done musically.

What was the motivation behind writing the song "Matrimony?"
It was just my feelings on marriage. I’ve never really thought at any point in my life that I would get married or be with anyone specific for the rest of my life, but I’m at the age now where some of my friends/peers are making that leap and it makes me think, Am I selfish? Childish? I can’t really comprehend giving yourself fully to another person. Maybe I’m just to hypersensitive or fragile, which is probably true, but I can not imagine doing it. Mathematically it makes zero sense. When two becomes one, that just means that something got subtracted or downsized. I’m trying to upsize/upgrade my life. There is no room for life changing subtractions, I only see subtraction as a negative, therefore getting married is just not for me. I barely like my self enough to hang out with me everyday, let alone a whole other person hence the line "I just wanna love myself."

Which track on the new album has the most meaning to you? Probably "Wish" just because it is such an odd song on our record. That song and "Circuit Breaker" are just two songs where we just kind of put it all out there, so those two have a special meaning.

What musical differences would you note between "Heavier than Heaven…" and the band's previous releases?
I don’t know if its as much "differences" as it is "evolution." We are growing into a sound as we grow as people. At the end of the day most people think growing as a musician would mean some in depth song writing process/arrangements, but as we got older, we realized it’s not what you play, but what you don’t play: minimalist in its purest form. Most bands that take that approach wind up writing these droney, one note 11 minute songs. Blacklisted takes the opposite approach. We try to keep our songs under 2 minutes and keep it just as violent as possible, both musically and lyrically, we try to write the music that strips you of the fat, strips you of the flesh for that matter and just gets right down to the bone. I think this album reflects that the most so far.

What was the reasoning behind starting the blog?
The blog was my way of breaking off that distance between being in a band and being a hardcore kid. It’s a forum where I can talk about whatever I want, Blacklisted or otherwise and have other kids around the world comment or read it and adapt it to their lives, or maybe get into a band I talk about. They can read about the way Blacklisted created our records and appreciate our music that much more. It blurs the line of artist and fan, which is something hardcore has always avoided, But in recent times it seems that that gap has just gotten more and more distant. One day someone pointed me to a message board where people were saying different negative things about me personally, not even Blacklisted. Ever since Blacklisted started it has always been something I have dealt with, I am not really that approachable, I’m depressing, I’m an asshole, etc. etc. I don’t mind if people feel that way, but taking it out on me in a public forum has always been kind of hurtful to me. I know a lot of people will say "if you don’t like it don’t read it". It’s easier said than done. People are saying things about you, you want to read it and try to understand it you know? Most of the time when it comes about I just feel betrayed. People don’t respect privacy. They just see it as you being some egotistical asshole, which I guess I will always be. So I created the blog to maybe close that gap, but at the same time feel in control about it. It’s a public forum that is my public forum, done on my own terms at my own pace in my own way.

Blacklisted is a band I'd consider to tour almost relentlessly. What keeps you guys going when you're away from home for so long?
I feel like it’s what keeps us going when we are away from tour for so long. The longer we are home the more we fall into "normalcy" and things start to blur. We start to think, "Should we go back on tour? What are we doing with our lives? How are we ever going to get jobs?" Etc. etc. But really, I think what keeps us going on the road is just our love for playing music. Just the live setting. We rarely take in sites or go exploring. Even when we are in different parts of the world, it all boils down to the 25 minutes we are on stage. It’s like an urgency inside us all to be playing this music, so we do it. With that urgency comes a clarity that just makes us all see eye to eye and know that we are all doing the right thing by continuing on.

Which tour has been the most memorable, and why?
I would say any time we have toured with Ceremony has been great, just because we have became such close friends. The same can be said about Shipwreck and the tours we have done with them, both European and U.S. Any time we play with Rise and Fall, we have recently taken to just bringing Bjorn on tour with us, even if Rise and Fall can’t go, just making sure he is there is always a plus. The European dates we did with Justice in September were amazing. Anytime with Cold World: they are some of my best friends so anytime I get to go anywhere with them I’m happy. I would like to do more stuff with LetxDown and Paint It Black. Both Philadelphia bands I think those tours would be up there on our most "memorable" list for sure if they happen. The Converge/Some Girls dates we did a year or so ago were really great. It was an mixed bill. I think it went over good. Seeing those two bands was amazing and inspiring every night, Right after that we wrote "Peace On Earth, War On Stage", so you can see the inspiration those two bands provided for us right there.

How was it playing This is Hardcore 2007?
It was humbling. We are from Philadelphia, So headlining one of hardcore’s biggest U.S. fests in our hometown was just a trip. The show was beyond energetic and we played last on a Sunday of a three day fest. It was crazy. I can’t even explain it. Joe Hardcore has been such a strong figure in my life for so long that just being part of a fest that he puts together is rewarding enough for me.

What made the band consider, then reconsider breaking up in 2006?
Personally speaking I started Blacklisted when I was 20/21 years-old. My whole 20s so far were spent in this band, which in my opinion is a huge growing period for a person, and I spent it all with in the confines of Blacklisted/on the road touring. I’ve been in multiple relationships, I’ve lived in multiple houses/apartments. The reality is that Blacklisted has become/been the only constant thing in my life. It made sense to keep going with it. I felt like we didn’t write the best records we could have written. There were still so many more places we wanted to play. Shawn felt the same way. We talked about it and then approached Bean. Bean had to make the biggest switch because he went from playing bass to playing guitar and taking on song writing with two people he never wrote songs with before. I wasn’t worried about it since, guitar was his real instrument, and I knew he had a ton of ideas that would work well with everything me and Shawn were about/wanted to go for. Dave Sausage presented himself, jumped on board and we have been on the move ever since. It is one of the best decisions we have made staying together. I feel that not only a new chapter started, but almost a whole different band. It gave us so much more room to grow as a band.

What has kept the band going since the near break-up?
I think everything I have said above kept us going: feeling a breath of fresh air and feeling like we have so much room to grow, so many different sounds we could create if we wanted to. It’s almost like there is always a new charge or energy in the band, going on at all times. It’s good and comforting to feel that.