Thursday, October 8, 2015

Interview with William Livesay from Blistered

Blistered is a 90's-inspired metallic hardcore band from South Florida that has been making waves the last couple years. While their debut 7" "Reject Their Shame" showed a good deal of promise, it was their follow-up e.p."Soul Erosion" that really seemed to put them on the map.

They just released a new LP called "The Poison of Self-Confinement" on 6131 Records which features a huge step up in the production department as well as a lot more metal influence with some serious nods to European metal-core greats such as Arkangel. In the past year or so the band has done a good bit of touring including appearances at Rain Fest and This is Hardcore, and are currently gearing up for an opening slot on this winter's Terror tour.

I've been keeping tabs on these guys for a while now, so it seemed like a good time to catch up with vocalist William Livesay. Read on.

So last summer Axis played here and I was talking to them about Florida hardcore and you guys came up. They mentioned that you've been doing bands forever and that your dad is actually a musician so you've always been able to tinker with recording gear and all that. So I'm curious what it was like as a kid coming up in that environment where it sounds like there was a lot of creativity going on and I imagine enthusiasm around your interest in music.

It was definitely the best possible environment to grow up in to foster any sort of interest in playing music. I started playing piano when I was 6, guitar a few years later, and then drums a few years after that. I've always had an insane amount of encouragement and support from my parents as far as playing music and touring which I know is really rare and I am so beyond lucky to have had that. I got my first recording equipment when I was 15 and so it's always been a situation where most of my friends who were bored on a Saturday afternoon would be playing video games or watching movies and I would be in my garage recording a demo of some song that I came up with for fun. It's definitely made me feel a lot more confident in my ability to play my instruments and write songs.

What planted the seeds for you to gravitate towards more aggressive music, and were your folks ever at all taken aback when your interests started moving more in that direction?

I was really into bands like Silverstein, As I Lay Dying, Atreyu, Every Time I Die, Hawthorne Heights, etc. I would buy CDs from those bands and some of them would come with Victory Records samplers where I heard a Comeback Kid song. Obviously I didn't know it was hardcore at the time or what hardcore was but I definitely thought it was really cool. From there I had a friend show me Bane, and then there was the proverbial falling down the rabbit hole where I just discovered more and more bands. My parents were never ever weird about or adverse to me getting into metal or hardcore, which was definitely very cool and different from a lot of my friends.

Alright so I know aside from Blistered you've done Losin' It, and I understand like a million other projects. What were some of your earliest bands, which ones are you still proud of, which ones do you wish could be erased from history?

My first hardcore band was Losin' It. Other than that I was in a pop-punk band that I started in middle school and was in throughout high school, and then a really shitty short-lived Lifetime rip-off band after that. Both of those bands were pretty bad but I don't wish I could go back and not do them because I learned a lot about being in a band from those to book shows, deal with band dynamics, all kinds of important stuff that I'd still be figuring out if it wasn't for those bands. I certainly wouldn't say I'm proud of those bands though!

Just from seeing things online it seems like Florida hardcore has gone completely bonkers the last few years. Every show seems to have like 8-10 bands playing, hundreds of kids showing up....what the hell are you guys doing down there, what's the secret?

Well, first of all, Florida is a humongous place. I live in South Florida, which is 4 hours from Tampa, 5 hours from Jacksonville, 8 hours from Tallahassee, and 10 hours from Pensacola, so while all those places have great bands and great hardcore scenes too, I can't really speak for anyplace besides South Florida. I think the reason things have been so great down here lately is because they sucked for so long. For a while FL was the butt of every joke when it comes to hardcore, and bands from here didn't get any respect, so kids said "fuck this" and got hungry to build something out of nothing.

Hardcore in South Florida from 2008-2011 was pretty shot, there were very few bands, and although we had people like my friend John who does Breakeven Booking busting his ass to book shows and keep things moving, it was definitely a rough patch. But as a result of that, I think kids down here realized that nothing is going to be handed to us and we're not going to have some historic reputation to coast on, and that we needed to build our hardcore scene off of just working hard to promote shows, start new bands, and keep getting new kids involved. Everyone down here has a great attitude about hardcore for the most part, and we have young kids starting bands/making zines/making flyers/coming out to shows and going off for bands. It's a really great time right now.
So how did Blistered come together? What were your initial goals, influences, etc.?
The story of Blistered coming together is pretty boring and run of the mill. We were friends, got together, wanted to do a style of hardcore that nobody was doing at the time in our area, and started doing it.

It seems like the band has really been picking up steam in the last year or so. What would you say have been the best experiences thus far, be it particular shows, writing/recording, or just being out on the road?

The whole experience of being in the band has been awesome. We never expected any of this to happen so we don't take it for granted. It's hard to pick a specific highlight but I would say Rainfest, UB, and This Is Hardcore were all really surreal moments for me personally.

I wanted to ask about the recording process for the new LP, because it certainly sounds monstrous. While some engineers seem to have carved out a particular niche, Kevin at Developing Nations really seems to work across quite a wide spectrum....he's done youth crew records, screamy stuff, crustier, dark hardcore bands, etc. How did you guys wind up deciding to go with Kevin, and how did this experience compare to the first record, or your previous studio sessions?

The recording process for the LP was super cool. Kevin is the man and he was really good at letting us know which of our crazy ideas were good and which ones were stupid. As far as the tones of everything, we showed him a record or two for reference of what we wanted and he got us those sounds super easily. I absolutely would love to do another record with him eventually.

The lyrics on "Soul Erosion", particularly "Life Does Not Satisfy" and "Coldest Blood" seem to revolve around suicide and some pretty horrific family history. As a lyricist, do you tend to approach things more from the angle of the need to get certain things off your chest or perhaps the hope that people going through similar experiences might be able to connect and take inspiration from what you're writing?

It's definitely a matter of getting things off my chest. If people can relate to it and if it can help them through something that's obviously great but at the end of the day, as far as the lyrical aspect of the band, it's 100% an act of catharsis for me first and foremost.

You guys are doing a solo run up to the Midwest and back, and then are doing a leg of that big Terror tour. While both will certainly be awesome, I'm curious what your personal preference is.....big room, big stage, hundreds of kids, or small room, small stage/possibly floor, more intimate vibes?

Obviously there are pros and cons to playing a big packed room and a small intimate space on a floor. I can't really say I like one better than the other, as both are really cool in their own way. I guess it just depends on the particular situation and what the vibe of that show is. I will say I am very, very excited to be on tour with Terror, Code Orange, Malfunction and Take Offense!
Aside from lots of touring, any plans for splits, comps, etc. or will the next thing likely be another larger release?

We had a split 7" with one of our favorite bands lined up but it fell through which is a huge bummer. Honesty I'm slightly relieved because their side would've made ours look like dog shit by comparison. Anyways, since that fell through and our LP just dropped it probably will be a bit before the next release, but it'll more than likely be a 7" as opposed to another LP.

Best thing about the core in 2015?

The best thing about the core in 2015 is the overwhelming amount of sick bands of all styles coming out lately.

Worst thing about the core in 2015?

Worst thing about the core in 2015 is how negative everyone can be a lot of the time. Obviously there are problems that need to be addressed and fixed but if you don't feel like the good things outweigh or at least measure up to the bad then why not go somewhere else?
Three bands that should be getting more love from people:

1. Day By Day - bleak, heavy, downtrodden hardcore not unlike Brethren or Cold As Life. Very sick band that just dropped a 12" EP on Eighty-Sixed records which is my favorite record of 2015.

2. Jukai - a very sick metallic HC band from New York that has been flying under the radar for a few years while other bands who try to do the same thing and fall heinously short of the mark that Jukai has set get lots of attention. They have a 7" coming out on Mass Movement soon so hopefully kids will take notice.

3. Truths Last Horizon - vegan straight edge riff masters from Birmingham, AL. They dropped a badass demo and have new material coming out that sounds like early Caliban with insane tortured vocals.

With so many good bands out it was hard to pick just 3, and if you'd have said top 5 I would've included SPM and Bind.

Blistered at Rain Fest:
The Poison of Self Confinement:


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