In December 2020, the song called The Replacer by Blacklist landed in my inbox, which is the band’s debut single. And for me, the song is one of the most exciting new pieces of music I have heard throughout the year. So you can imagine just how much I was looking forward to listening to this EP Superpredator when I heard that the band were going to be releasing an EP.
Hailing from Bristol, Blacklist are a band on the heavy side of alternative rock. They have been building a reputation in their local music scene since 2018 shortly after the band was formed in 2017.
Superpredator is a 5-track EP. Each track conjures up its own image. They are effectively laid in an order which gives the 23 minutes extra sharpness and intensity. They give you an impression of a cross between Muse and Foo Fighters with a flavour of Royal Blood, and it is incredible to think that the sound is from only three young musicians. The elements of Superpredator include some dynamic bass lines, edgy riffs and catchy hooks with imaginative and emotive lyrics. There is something very fresh and unique about this EP. I am sure that this EP will be well received far and wide, and Blacklist will grow into one of those bands who is the most talked about. Their music is found further down on this page.
To celebrate the release of Superpredator, I asked the band to talk to us a few days ago. Read the following interview and get to know the band better. Big thanks to the frontman Saul for taking his time and talking to me great deal.
Hello! Thanks for talking to us today! Can you introduce yourself?
Hey! I’m Saul Blease, I’m a musician from Bristol. I’ve been releasing music since 2014. And I’m the frontman and bassist for Blacklist which consists of Elliott Tottle on guitar and Joe Webb on the drums!
Thank you Saul! First of all, how have you been doing during the lockdowns?
I’ve been about as okay as most musicians during the pandemic. A bit gig-starved, exploring different avenues of income as there’s basically nothing at the moment, and writing and rewriting new material for the last year!
At least you kept yourself busy and creative by the sound of it! How do you normally go about writing your songs?
Typically I’ll have a guitar hook or a vocal line in my head and I’ll sculpt out the rest of the song mentally and record it on my phone with my voice. I’m always horrified at the possibility of someone going into my voice memos and finding my 1,389 humming ideas.
I then create a demo using Logic, and work out the different layers, different parts, what works, what doesn’t and what’s just foundation to be built upon. When I’m happy with that, I will take it to rehearsals with the band where we will play it again and again, change things and experiment with ideas and what the songs need.
The two other members of my band Elliott Tottle and Joe Webb always bring a part of them to the songs – Joe’s a fantastic drummer and adds some incredible elements and energy that I’m just unable to imagine. Elliott often brings his own shine and creativity… I remember when we were rehearsing Husk and wanted to add an outro and he whipped out this crazy sounding feedback pedal that you can now hear as a permanent addition to the ending of the song.
Your first single “The Replacer” was released with a bang in December. I believe you recorded the track a long before. At the time, have you already had the plan for an EP?
Yeah we had! So our initial reasons for doing the EP other than “let’s get something out there!” was that we wanted gigs outside of Bristol.
Elliott and myself tried for a really long time to secure some slots outside of our area but at any given time there’s usually hundreds to thousands of other musicians doing the exact same thing. The hilarious part being that a lot of venues want you to already have experience playing in their area so the ‘risky’ unheard of, new band choices get filled up quick.
So what you need is to either support another band which can be its own bucket of the old “give us a shout when you’ve got your band started” promises or have an event manager who has the connections and reputation that venues will listen to. Event managers typically want you to have released material. So it was one of the major reasons we decided to release this EP.
Okay. You are just about to release the debut EP “Superpredator”. Let’s talk about it. You must be very excited!
It’s been a long time coming! I’m excited to see the response from people who’ve seen us live, fans of my solo work and people who’ve never even heard of us before. We actually recorded the songs back in December 2019. They’re a collection of reworks of some of my solo stuff (Everything, Husk) and some other stuff I wrote specifically for the band.
Because we had been playing the songs live for some time, we wanted to really capture that raw feeling that had been resonating with people at our gigs. So our instruments were all captured simultaneously, I was in the big room with Joe as he played the drums with a line from bass feeding into a cab-filled vocal booth, whilst Elliott was by the mixing desk recording via DI.
The first lockdown hit during our mixing sessions at Factory Studios in Bristol, but thankfully Nathan Long finished mixing it at home with back and forth with me via email and was mastered promptly and brilliantly by Tom Peters.
I was hesitant at first to release music during a period of gig absence but I was inspired by Shauna Tohill of Rews, who I consider a friend and a mentor, who put out the album ‘Warriors’ last year to great success. We’re nowhere near as established as her band, and we’re really in our beginnings but it sort’ve pushed me in the right direction mentally.
Initially we were looking at pushing the EP with some PR companies but realised that financially there wasn’t anything viable at this stage of the band’s life. So that’s why it’s been such a long time from recording to release.
That’s very understandable. Could you explain about the songs one by one? (A few sentences are enough)
The songs have certain meanings to me, but I don’t like to definitively say “this is what the song is about”. Because I don’t want to infringe on the feelings and ideas that people listening get from them in their own understanding. When I listen to music sometimes I’ll hear something that reflects imagery in my own life and my own experiences.
Sometimes though a song is about a particular event like Death From Above’s Trainwreck’79, it doesn’t stop the song from being an absolute bop but as a listener there’s no real personal experience you can draw from the lyrics unless you’ve heard of the story or been in a miraculous train wreck where no-one dies yourself.
But these songs I’ve written aren’t about any particular historical events. I will however say that one of the meanings of ‘Superpredator’ was inspired by one of the answers to Fermi’s Paradox, and Husk to me has themes of addiction.
Interesting to hear that Saul. About the 5th track “Husk”, the piano is very effective. It’s a great track to wrap up.
The keyboard, piano was my first proper instrument! A lot of my older songs were originally composed on it for my Daybreak and Black Hole releases. But nowadays whilst I write songs differently there’s still something about a really gritty, slightly distorted piano that just resonates with the electro-industrialist kid within me.
What influences have you drawn from recently, with regards to your sound and message?
When the band was forming, I was going to pair my vocals with playing rhythm guitar. But I ended up deciding I’ll do bass and rhythm guitar using the dual-amp / octaver method. It’s something fans of Death from Above and Royal Blood are familiar with and pretty much has the weight of the impossible guitar tone I’ve been searching for my whole life.
So as a result DFA and Royal Blood have definitely been influences to me personally. Husk and Everything are very NIN and Reznor inspired but that’s because they’re my favourite band, so NIN’s always going to have some influence with what I create. I think there’s a little bit of early Muse and Deftones in there… there’s certainly a bit more of Muse influence in the material I’m currently writing…
This last year I’ve really been delving into my Discover Weekly on Spotify like a personalised radio. My most recents inspirations from that are Dead Poet Society, Zig Mentality, Strange Bones, and Badflower.
Does everyone in your band listen to similar music or musicians?
-ish. I think we can all appreciate each other’s music tastes and we definitely share a few favourites. Elliott and I actually went to a Dinosaur Pile-Up gig together a few years back.
I’ve been a metalhead, rock-lad since I was a kid, so that’s where my roots have been coming from. Elliott, I would say is more punk/ pop-punk focused yet very appreciative of almost any good music or great song no matter the genre. Joe’s a mystery novel, I’m still trying to work him out, he seems to have a large amount of musical knowledge but he is probably the most professional musician in the band so there’s no surprise there!
Who, which bands do you dream to share a stage with?
Personally I would love to play on the same stage as any of my influences above. I feel like my nerves would be absolutely shot to hell even talking to some of them though!
You never know, hopefully the day will come! Any live shows already planned?
I’m currently keeping my eyes open as venues are starting to tentatively open up slots for later in the summer. We definitely want to do a proper EP post-launch gig to kick things off, but we’ll have to see how things pan out!
What should we gig goers expect from your live shows?
My bass can be like as loud as a distorted dragon, so expect some fun from that! We rehearse our set vigorously behind the scenes and get our timings between songs down so as a result I’m not gonna talk your ear off the whole set when you’re here to see people play.
Looking for to that! Is there anything else you would like to say?
You can listen to the Superpredator EP on all your favourite streaming platforms, and can cop it for a fiver on Bandcamp if you want it to go directly to us. We’re looking into merch, so keep an eye out for that on our socials as our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are all @blacklistukband where you can also tell us what you think of the EP!
Great! Thank you for your time! Good luck!