Posted on November 15th, 2022

[as seen on Birthday Cake For Breakfast]

A decade on from the release of their debut album ‘BLKLSTRS‘ – championed at the time by notable contemporaries from the likes of Biffy Clyro and Future of the Left – Leeds lot Blacklisters now look to the release of their brand new EP, ‘Leisure Centre‘, pencilled in as the first in a series of forthcoming EPs.

Recorded for the most part in Leeds with George Riley at The Penthouse Recording Studio, ‘Leisure Centre‘ is a proper rib-rattler, an EP you’ll want to press play on as soon as it’s over. By the time ‘The Wrong Way Home‘ rolls around you’re absolutely devoted to the cause – sucked in as “YOU’RE GOING THE WRONG WAY HOME” is shouted at you over and over again. Elsewhere, the pummelling title track calls to mind Pissed Jeans, whilst ‘Why Deny It?‘ locks you into a stupidly catchy rhythm, before guitar and sax kick the door off its hinges and plunge the listener into a frantic, ear-splitting wig-out.

The US release comes via Exploding in Sound Records (Stuck, Thank, Pile), whilst Sad Tapes and the band themselves are handling the UK side of things.

Ahead of its release this week, we’re pleased as punch to have an exclusive stream of the EP in full. Alongside that, vocalist Billy Mason-Wood was kind enough to talk us through its production and equating the search for lyrics to being caught dogging.

“We recorded this record back in March… I say we, but actually it was only the three who play instruments. I, Billy, live in Berlin and for one reason or another, had to cancel coming over last minute. So Stobb, Steve and Dan went ahead without me.

We have got into this thing over the past few years, (partly because we all live in different places and partly because it’s fun) of writing and recording really quickly. Our last album ‘Fantastic Man‘, was written over a couple of weekends and then we recorded it live in two days. We’ve done a few tours where we have come in having not practiced and then got good by playing. Its added a fun element to being older and not having the same time we used to, to commit to the band.

This EP was all written and recorded in two days. They went in with no ideas on the Saturday and by the end of Sunday the songs were recorded. Which I think is cool. As I wasn’t around I had to record the vocals on my own, in sunny old Berlin… Now, March is a long way away now and that is because I took so fucking long to write the words and record them. I don’t know why, maybe because I’d never not written with the band or because I am out of practice, but I found it almost impossible to write the words. Every idea I had was terrible, every rhythm I could hear in the songs fucking sucked. The songs themselves sounded great but I was lost at sea.

By the summer it was getting a bit weird that I hadn’t done them yet and I’m sure that the band were getting impatient. The whole idea was to record a bunch of EP’s really quickly this year then release a full record. I kept trying to force anything out but it all sounded and felt like utter shit. There are about 50 versions in my phone of each song on this EP. Different configurations, verses, tunes, choruses. I’d never had this sort of block before. I’d walk around the woods, walking my dog, shouting different ideas at trees and occasionally getting caught by some poor fucker out for a Sunday stroll who had to come face to face with me acting like a mad man, shouting into my iPhone. It was like getting caught dogging or something. I’d shut up and slink away in shame, then start up again a little bit further down the lane, only to get caught again.

The first song to come was the title track, ‘Leisure Centre‘. And in the end it came relatively easily. I like how back in the day people had this utopian idea that we would all go to this place to experience leisure together, and that, that ideal was mainly badminton and doing lengths in a pool. If only we had those kind of societal aspirations today!

‘Why Deny it?‘ came shortly after. I feel like I was trudging over well warn territory with the lyrics to this one. I write a lot about the expectations of being an adult and that in someways I am stuck waiting to become one. But then something really cool happened. I recorded my vocals at the wrong bit rate accidentally or something, so when the vocals were laid over the track, they didn’t line up properly. As a result the song has this skewed off centreness to it which made it sound really cool and odd.

‘No Not At All‘ fell out of me after that. But ‘Wrong Way Home‘ just wouldn’t come. No matter how I tried to force it, it just wouldn’t. In the end I went to the band and asked if anyone could come up with anything for it. And Steve without hesitation sent through the main hook of the song. We then asked an old friend Rob Mitchell from Abstract Orchestra to put on some saxophone. He pretty much nailed it all in one too. Only the poor old struggling lead singer found it hard. Boo hoo. Wah wah. Buy me a present.“

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