The past is the past. You can either let it ruin your future or use it to make your future brighter. The choice is yours.
Tony West and Todd Youth have written together what turns out to be the fourth album from L.A. rockers, Blacklist Union. The new album is entitled, Back To Momo, and has received numerous positive reviews across the spectrum of sites. With two singles from the album already out and with video support, the guys aren’t taking a wait and see approach to get their new material out to the masses.
We managed to get a few minutes with Tony to discuss a few topics ranging from the meaning behind “Evil Eyes,” to touring plans, and even the things one might have to do to get to the top. While some of the issues we touch with him can be very sensitive areas, we don’t go into graphic detail. We go through enough Coldcock American Herbal Flavored Whiskey, now, as it is at the National Rock Review compound. But you should be able to get the drift that his formative years weren’t something that Disney will make into a kid’s sitcom anytime soon.
If you head over to our Facebook page, give us a ‘Like’ and share your stories with us, Tony, or the Blacklist Union family. Or, head over to our Twitter and in a 144 let us know what you thought about the interview. And, if nothing else, grab a copy of Back To Momo and play it as loud as possible until you to can look in the mirror and can deal with what is looking back at you.
NRR: Thanks, Tony, for taking some time out of your busy schedule to answer some questions for National Rock Review. Let’s jump right into some of those things happening to you so far this year with Blacklist Union. Lineup changes happen, very rarely does the original group ever stay together for both good and bad reasons. You have a new member in the band you’re pretty happy with, how did that all go down?
Tony West: Thank you so much for having us. Yes, some lineup changes happen just like divorces happen. I wrote the record with Todd Youth, who played with Danzig and many other great bands, and we’re proud to announce that he’s now a full-on member of the band. I grew up in New York seeing a lot of Todd’s bands [including] Murphy’s Law and Agnostic Front. I knew him at a very young age. He didn’t know me, but I certainly knew him, and we have become close friends over the last several years.
NRR: Blacklist Union has a new album, Back To Momo, out now. For new and old fans that haven’t heard it yet, what can they expect the first listen through and for the audio geeks among us, who helped you to get that sound from the other side of the glass?
Tony West: Chris Johnson has produced all four Blacklist Union CD’s. This time, he was the executive producer, and we bought a new guy to the team, Ghian Wright, who is amazing. We did the record mostly at The Village Recorder in West L.A. that’s owned by Jeff Greenberg, another close friend of mine and a great guy. And what you can expect from the record is full on high octane rock ‘n’ roll that makes you want to drink, fuck, and raise some hell!
NRR: “Evil Eye” is your first single off the new effort, if I read things correctly. It also has a good video supporting it. Why did you choose this track to be the first attention grabber from the album?
Tony West: Well, actually this is the second single from Back To Momo. The first single is called “Alive And Well Smack In The Middle Of Hell,” which there’s a video for as well. And “Evil Eye” is the second single on the record. It’s about healing and letting go of some horrible things from my past.
NRR: Ah, okay, cool. We’ve, within the last year, lost a few big names in music starting with Scott Weiland and Lemmy to Bowie and Fry passing as well among others. If this is too personal, I understand, but you’ve spoken before about how badly what inspired “Evil Eye” wrecked you for a long time. Was there ever a point where your name might have been listed next to Scott’s trying to deal with the pain of the abuse?
Tony West: I was definitely on that list yes. It’s a miracle I’m still alive.
NRR: With a lot of people and even some of your own fans suffering their own levels of pain from abusive situations, what was it that finally gave you the strength to start dealing with the past and start moving forward again?
Tony West: Getting sober, working the steps, and doing a course call the “Landmark Forum”. That has given me the freedom to let go of my past in the pain. I was abused as a kid by my mother and father very badly. I’ve been rejected by my mother my whole life, and I made a lot of things that happened to me mean certain things. Basically, I was told a bunch if lies about myself as a kid. The thing is I believed them as if they were true. They’re not at all. In fact, the things I was told about myself couldn’t be farther from the truth.
NRR: You not only have mentioned that the band’s sound has been influenced by Guns N’ Roses, but you also have the L.A. scene connection and a rather personal connection with your manager to the band. I’m just curious to get your opinion on the recent reunion and if it’s good or bad for the genre in general?
Tony West: I think the Guns N’ Roses reunion is amazing not only for Slash, Duff, Axl and the fans but for rock ‘n’ roll as a whole! I saw them at the Saturday show Apr 09, 2016 in Vegas and it was amazing. Axl was spot [on] and Slash and Duff were beaming with excitement! It was just amazing!
NRR: With the very personal issues dealt with on some of the songs, how did the writing process work for you on this album?
Tony West: The writing process was just like any other process. However, I can tell you that the first three Blacklist Union albums are very dark for me and about casting out darkness. Back To Momo is about getting back in the light and basking in the light and letting go of the ties that have bound me for so long and getting back to having fun and having peace and friends and enjoying life.
NRR: To get the train back on the tracks to Happyville, is there a moment, that thinking back on it now, in the your career, with any band now, that you can’t help but still feel a tad bit embarrassed about, makes you laugh about despite yourself, or just still makes you shake your head in disbelief? A Spinal Tap moment if you will, that you’d be willing to share with me?
Tony West: Yeah, my first band, Freak Machine, we were the worst band ever, and I used to wear clothes that looked more like a chicken suit than anything else. At that point, I still hadn’t perfected my craft, and it definitely showed. But hey, you got to be willing to go out there and risk it all and risk looking stupid and inexperienced otherwise you’ll never get to where you want to go.
NRR: With festival season right around the corner, are there plans to hit the road for some of the bigger shows or is that still in the air at this moment?
Tony West: Ya know, we’re still trying to get on the road. We’ve been trying to get to Europe and get on the festival circuit. And the biggest issue is finding industry people that actually put their money where their mouth is and deliver on what they say. [Ones] who aren’t afraid to take risks.
NRR: I’ll hand over the bandana grip wrapped National Rock Review microphone, don’t mind the faint smell of tequila on it, is there anything you’d like to plug or mention before wine, dine, 69’d Friday starts in earnest here at the love shack?
Tony West: “Wine, dine, and 69’d” is a title of a song on the new Back to Momo record ironically enough. All I can say is if you’re a true fan of rock n’ roll check out Blacklist Union. We’re not hard to find and we deliver.