Friday, June 12, 2009
Enter the View....George Hirsch!
First things first...This is an exciting yet difficult interview for me to approach. George and I are close friends, and I know a lot
about him, yet I know so little at the same time. As far as that goes I don't want that to shape a biased cloud over the interview. So, I am going to poke and prod at the things that I always wonder about my friend, who just happens to be an amazing writer, and frontman for an incredible band. Recently, they went into the studio to record their 4th album, and what an album it is.
- What made you want to start a band? Was their a particular time in
your life in which you were impacted by another musician or band that gave you the urge to round up some friends and give the world your thoughts?
I don't really know what inspired me to do a band. I've always had the though in my head, but it didn't really seem as if it was a tangible thing for me. By the time I got into punk/hardcore in the mid 90s, it had lost its all inclusive ethos. I can't explain what kept bringing me back, but I never stopped. I have always struggled with stability in my personal life. I HATE change and I try to force every thing in my life (even the trivial things) into being a pillar of stability. Punk/Hardcore, though it is in no way trivial to me, has been that for me. So with that said, starting a band seemed logical, as it would provide me with something I could be totally involved with and the outlet chosen to express it would be this almost secret thing that had become such a stabilizer in my life.
As far as inspiration goes musician wise, I can't really say there is anyone specific, I will say that, I am most interested in musicians (lyricist) who can paint a vivid picture of them being completely out of skin, while still remaining in tact and strong. That has been my effort since day 1 of this band.
- Speaking of, Does letting go of your darkest thoughts through
writing and singing give you any sort of outlet or comfort from those very thoughts themselves?
The new Blacklisted album has a line that says "No one will ever come for me, No one will ever comfort me", I feel as though I am included in that "No one". I see myself as just a man behind a curtain. I may be on stage, being loud and really upfront and emotional, but the reality of it is, that is the only time I am like that. Blacklisted is my machine and it always has been, when I am playing I am controlling it, but if you get to know me, or know anything about me, I am just a small scared man behind it. So I never feel comforted by it, if anything it just hinders me emotionally because at one point everyday there was this 20 minute window where I was a machine and then the other 23 hours and 40 minutes of the day I am someone who swims around in their head all day feeling like everyone hates me and I am the most disgusting person on the planet.
I always pondered the idea of you putting your hardships, fears,
and trials on display for all the world to interpret, and then having to relive them, show after show, tour after tour, and interview after interview. Your music is very personal and it seems like it would be
tough to keep singing about a certain time or situation over and over again, almost like you wanted to write about it to get it out of your head, and now its stuck by your side to tour the world with for the next 5 years, How do you disassociate the emotions from those songs from haunting you over and over again?
Writing/Recording/Playing live the songs I have created in Blacklisted has always been a difficult task. The songs get written by my band, with some input by me and then I write all the lyrics, Once that part is done, it feels (selfishly) like the song has become completely my own. With that said, It has to be released and played live. Something I don't think people understand is, once that happens, the song is such a part of me, it is subject to feeling however I am feeling at any given time. So it becomes hard to express myself with it over and over and over because I have such a mercurial personality. So the reality of trying to disassociate it is impossible, because for me, everyday is a new feeling within those songs. It certainly has become really tiring to me over time.
- Life, outside of your band, to some it may look like you are living the glam life, traveling, playing music, making friends, seeing the world. etc etc.. How does that match up to the reality of being a touring musician and balancing 2 lives, one on the road, and one at home when you return. Basically, give a us an extended version of the song "Tourist", the 2009 remix, slower and with no guitars and drums.
Let me start by saying, I am a firm non-believer in positivity and positive energy. I believe in it no more than I believe that a tooth fairy was putting money under my pillow at night when I lost teeth, a fortune out of a cookie or a palm reading. Its all bogus. I believe in one basic thing, life is draining, which is a completely tangible thing and is happening every second until it stops. For ages people have always sworn by, "let nothing stop you from doing the things you love", well I will be the first one to say, the thing that is going to stop you from doing something you love is reality, The understanding that no matter how you avoid day to day, it will catch up with you, and it will be fierce. No amount of P.M.A. or chanting alone in a dark room is going to rid you of it, any drug you take(I have never taken any) is only going to temporarily remove you, and once you are back its harder than ever. Life takes its toll. While touring you are moving at such a fast pace, but eventually you arrive home and have to decompress, thats when things become a problem. To quote another new Blacklisted song from our new album , there is a line that I say "Humbly watching my life crumble form this bubble I created, well its the greatest", I think that sums touring life/home life up completely. I've traveled the world and played music, a music that is not really deemed "acceptable" by pop standards, yet I still have done things that people trying to hitchhike on the american idol road couldn't even dream about. But on the other hand, I come home and everything is falling apart, my friendships, my personal relationships, I couldn't find a job etc etc. It was completely disheartening and it was happening over and over and over and over again. All I could do was watch it like a car wreck, repeatedly. I became what felt like a shell of a person after a while.
- Since you are basically a living breathing music encyclopedia, if you had to pick musicians dead or alive, to be in a group together who would it be and why?
My answer to this is going to be so boring to other people. But I thing the people who are in Blacklisted now is who I would pick. We have a constant revolving door of second guitar players, but the core group of us, Shawn, Bean, Dave and Myself would be my pick. On fantasy island Thurston Moore or J. Mascis would play the other guitar, but that is about it.
- What were you doing 10 years ago, before all the lights camera action glamour glitters and gold of blacklisted?
This time 10 years ago, I was on my way to getting shot right before my 17th birthday. So right around then, without including that I was probably listening to Nas's verse on that song, on headphones on the bus, on my way to the Church, Kill time or Stalag to see a show. Maybe driving in Joe Hardcores white Camaro to go see some band play somewhere.
- Where do you see G. Hirsch 10 years from now?
I'd give anything to make it driving in Joe Hardcores white Camaro to go see a band play somewhere. I can't say where I see myself, I have no idea, However I hope I am living quietly with a dog. I hope I have more books. I hope I'm eating a veggie dog with cheese and fake bacon on it, with macaroni and cheese and vegetarian baked beans. I hope I feel welcomed in life and someone loves me. I hope I can watch Joe Hardcore rule a kingdom, I hope I'm watching a close friend of mine named Shawn Savior wrestle in a ring somewhere. I hope I'm walking down south street or anywhere downtown with Jude talking about all the other times we walked around and talking about us eventually both owning half wolves. I hope driving to a rope swing or a flea market with you and Melissa and your Son or Daughter(s) and Jude. I hope watching Beans daughter play in a soccer tournament, or perform music for her school, I hope seeing Shawn Foley play his drums somewhere(anywhere). I hope seeing Dave Sausage own 2 separate houses, one for him and one for his records, with his own record making equipment in the basement. I hope I still get the urge to go outside. I hope I am not afraid of everything and I hope I am happy.
- If you got to spend one day with a person throughout history who would it be and what would you guys do/ or talk about?
I have always had an affinity towards people that do a great amount of work and then just quit and walk away. Artists who make things so amazing and then one day decide to just stop creation. Also artists who create and create with no drive to show it to anyone is a characteristic I greatly admire. Someone like Arthur Rimbaud who only wrote until he was in his 20, got shot by his lover, shunned writing and moved all around eventually settling in Ethiopia, where he became a gun runner. Or Henry Darger who created this huge amazing body of work under no microscope, he lived alone and quietly and everyday created and created with no reward other then whatever was going on his mind. Those are people I would like to spend a day with. See why they did things the way they did. But I guess that in its essence is why they were how they were. They felt no reason to explain. They did what they wanted with no care for the world around them. I would probably go piss on peoples graves with Rimbaud and go to flea markets with Darger.
- top 10 albums that mean something to you, and why they hold weight after all these years.
I find it hard to name a top 10 albums, Besides Nas-Illmatic, which is the best album of all time, better then the Beatles, Stones, Zeppelin, etc etc. So with that said, here is exactly what I have been listening to recently, on the bus on the way to work, walking to the store, at home, etc etc.
Scaramanga- 7 Eyes And 7 Horns.
Nirvana- In Utero.
Neutral Milk Hotel- On Avery Island.
Deadboy & The Elephantmen- If This Is Hell, Then Im Lucky.
Lip Cream-9 Shocks Terror.
Godflesh-Songs Of Love And Hate.
Velvet Underground-Velvet Underground & Nico
Fuel-Monuments To Excess.
- top 5 sneakers of all time ?
Nike Air Terra Humara.
Nike Air Footscape.
Nike Air Zoom Spiridon.
Split Tongue Asics.
- If you weren't making music, what would you have liked to do or have become?
Probably a Psychologist(Shout out to Dr Dan). Or something to do with an Animal Rescue. My dream is to get paid for just writing novels about whatever topic I want. If I could go back in time, Id be a writer for Rolling Stone in the late 60's throughout the 70s. Thats a dream.
- Coolest place you have been to on planet earth? Why?
Byron Bay, Australia, On our tour there with 50 Lions. Its the best place on earth. If anyone knows a job that is hiring there, I will absolutely take it whatever it is, just to live there. Its paradise x10000000000000000000000. New Zealand is a close second. Followed by San Francisco and San Diego.
- Let's talk about this record you just recorded? Just as the curtain was being pulled across the stage, and it was pretty much understood that BL was no longer going to make music together, the curtain slowly opens up, and a super small light shines thru the curtain, then it opens more and more light shines through, and slowly the curtain opens again, and sounds emerge, lots of them and before you know it there is a musical masterpiece of sounds and vocals braided together, ready to be presented once again to the world. And you guys call this record? What did it take to bring you guys back to a creative state again, where you realized. "hey this band isn't finished yet, and as a matter of fact we might just be getting started?"
I think that is just how Blacklisted operates. One day I want to stay in my room for the rest of my life, the next I want to drive across the country playing gigs just to jump in the Pacific ocean. I don't understand why it is like that but its how I am designed and I operate and it reflects heavily on Blacklisted. Like I talked about earlier in the interview, Life takes its toll, and tour after tour I was coming home to nothing, eventually losing my girlfriend whom I lived with. So after we toured all last year I wanted to take a breather. And by breather I mean, I didn't want anyone to touch me or come near me for months. For the first month I was home I walked around aimlessly in my apartment. I didn't shower, I didn't really eat. I played on the internet, looked at jobs, and just laid in bed. Everyday was getting worse and worse just seeing my Ex-girlfriend come home everyday and see me laying in bed, right where she had me laying when she left to go to work 10 hours earlier. I offered her no explanation. I didn't have one. I had no idea what was happening, people would call me and text me, I would rarely answer. At one point I went through my phone and deleted every single number belonging to someone I met through music. I felt like I was just so destructive to other peoples lives I just wanted to be away from everyone. I wasn't really talking to Shawn, Bean was extremely busy with his child. I was so fucked up. The only thing I could think of to do was retreat back to touring and just try to run away from life a little more. But I knew that wasn't a possibility. I couldn't tour or sing or write myself out of what was happening. So I just disintegrated.
I can't say I snapped out of it, but eventually, as you know since you helped me get it, I found a job and I started leaving the house, going to work, etc etc, then I started looking for apartments, and I slowly started trying to get my life somewhat together from what it had been. Eventually I spoke to Bean. So Shawn, Bean and Myself met up to just hang out. We talked about the possibility of writing some music, not necessarily Blacklisted but something. After hanging out for a couple hours we had it planned that we would do a 7" just 3 songs and that was it. See what happen from there. We started practicing and wrote 2 songs in one practice, then the following practice we wrote 1 and 1/2 more. So I talked to Tre from Deathwish and explained to him our position. At this point we didn't even know if this was Blacklisted material. He basically said do whatever you guys want, whatever will make you happy. So we did. We wrote 11 songs and recorded them in May, during whatever time we all had free. And that was that. We don't have a title. We have no idea when it will come out, What format it will come out in. I just know that it is done and if I want to I can listen to it, and that is a really empowering feeling.
- You decided to record this album unconventionally to todays digital standards and practices, Any reason or rime behind that?
We just wanted to do something we hadn't before. I had recorded on tape for "Our Youth Is Wasted", but that was it, We felt with this new album/sound we were going for, tape was most suitable for us, it would give us another dimension to a sound we had been trying to get together since "Peace On Earth, War On Stage". Watching and engineer work with tape is like watching an artists, its amazing.
- To me this album falls right into it's proper place as far as Blacklisted releases, each album seems to pick up where the last one leaves off, and the music I was hearing at the end of Heavier than Heaven made me so excited for the direction you guys were going, it's still Blacklisted sound at the nucleus of it, but the atmosphere surrounding that nucleus is ever growing and manifesting into something special. Are you scared that the core following from the hardcore scene will be so critical about it? It is hard to follow a band as they grow, you get attached to the old songs, how do you feel about kids judging the relevance of the music you release as far as it being "real Hardcore, or this isn't the old blacklisted"
Well, everything we do seems to alienate our previous crowd/core following, Which I wish wasn't a reality, I wish people could just appreciate us growing as people/musicians, but I learned a long time ago that in hardcore that isn't even a possibility. While recording this album I felt like we had the alienating turned up to 10, and I was okay with it, Because this album is as Tre McCarthy has said "By Blacklisted, For Blacklisted". I don't expect anyone to get anything out of it. And to be totally honest, it is really none of my business, just as it is none of their business why we wrote what we did or why we sound how we sound. I thought about this the other day when I was in the movie theater, I found 10 dollars on the ground in the bathroom and i picked it up and put it in my pocket and went about my way. I didn't talk about it, ask whose it was or as why it was there. I pocketed it and kept it moving. I hope people will be able to do that with this record. Just bring it into their life and move on with it. When we recorded "Heavier Than Heaven, Lonelier Than God", I was trying so hard to have people understand it and respect it, I was so self conscious about it and just completely un-confident in my music abilities. Those feelings haven't complete subsided, but they are shielded and protected a lot better, I am an apple with a tougher skin.
- After you heard the album for the first time, after it was mixed and engineered, What were your thoughts? What did Bean and shawn say?
I actually rejected the first and second mix. This album was hard for me to record. I walked out of the studio twice in the middle of doing vocals because I just felt like I couldn't do it. But once i calmed down and heard what we were doing, I didn't have words for it. Any time someone asks me about it my only description of it is "Its crazy". So when I asked Bean and Shawn what they thought, they had the same answer, So I knew we were doing something right. Those 2 are in my top 5 dead or alive people and I have seen the world with them twice over, If we all have the same feeling on something, its guaranteed that it is exactly what we are saying it is.
- I have read that you write Blacklisted lyrics for you, and its interception by the world is what it is, but to me you seem to really care about people, and their well being. It is nothing for you to be wilding out on stage with the aggression of a million 16 year olds, then to stop it dead in it's tracks and conform like a monk and share a few words of wisdom to the crowd?
I just think people should take care of one another. Every Blacklisted show opens with "This band is called Blacklisted" and closes with "Please take care of one another, Peace". Its something I introduced early on and is something I stand by. If people took care of one another, life would be a lot more simple. Its about being human. Which as much as I think of myself as not being sometimes, We all are.
- Ok, so by now you answered a few of my questions, and read a little of my views about things, any thing you would like to share above and beyond what we talked about? Perhaps a side project?
I would wear longsleeve shirts all the time too if I had as many tricks up my sleeve as you.
I could be involved in some side projects, Lets see if they happen. Stay humble while others tumble, Please take care of one another, Peace.
- Well, you were kind enough to let my wife and I listen to this album with you, after it was mastered, and it FUCKING RULES!(excuse my french.) Don't take that lightly because we are friends, and Blacklisted fans that are going to read this, be prepared for an incredible record from a band that isn't scared to think outside the circle, and make music they like, while keeping true to hardcore principles, and ideals!
Thanks for your time G, I am super pumped for you guys to release this album, and good luck with it, I hope the rest of the world appreciates your guys commitment it as much as I do, there are days that HTHLTG has saved me from feeling like I was the only one "going through it." Don't think his talents stop at just fronting a band, if you do some snooping around you may also find a few other intriguing contributions he has made to the world, through writing short stories, and photo documentation.