Interview with Tony West of Blacklist Union
Writer: Song River
Music heals us in ways that are as individual as we are. Through our journey here it is the rhythm of music and what the beat comes to mean to us many times that brings people together to become fast friends. A staff, a bar dotted with notes and scrawled characters called words become the track of our lives.
Song River: Every one of us has a story to tell. And during this time and this space, we are walking somehow, we connect with people that leave an impression that is deep. How did you and Todd Youth meet?
I first became aware of Todd when I was 15 years old and was a punk rock little kid on the Lower east side of New York. He played in Murphy’s Law and in Warzone. Years later I met him in 2002 when he moved out to Los Angeles. And we quickly became friends.
What was it Todd brought that created your close bond?
Our mutual love of Hardcore and punk rock and genuine rock ‘n’ roll.
If you would talk about how your relationship developed over time. What were some of the music elements you shared? How about outside music connections and friendship development... what other things would you say brought you and Todd together and kept special?
Well we started out by writing one song on the third Blacklist Union Record called a “Till Death Do Us Part“ that was a song called “Digging for Gold“ and there is a video for it. We enjoyed writing together so much and I’ve gone through a lot of drama with blacklist union as Todd was well aware of . we had a mutual respect for each other and just decided to write a whole record filled with life and hope and love.
Todd played with some of the most hardcore acts along the way. What was that like witnessing?
Me and Todd both grew up on the streets in New York at a very young age. We both were a lot of shows together although we didn’t know each other we were at the same gigs. The same riots. The same clubs. Hanging with the same people. He’s one of the only ones that I could call up and say hey man you remember this gig? Or do you remember this band? One thing I loved about Todd was that I never had explain to him who the band was. He was definitely schooled in all aspects of music.
Did Todd ever talk about what it was like to play with Motorhead, Ace Frehley, Glen Campbell, Danzig, Marky Ramone and so on...?
Watching him play in those bands growing up was legendary.
I know many, many stories about Todd’s Giggs and what happened behind the scenes and on stage and so forth. He told me some funny stuff.
Can you enlighten us on Todd's connection with his daughter? Did the share the same faith?
Todd was a devout Hare Krishna and we went to Krishna Temple many many times together.
How did the burial ritual Todd had requested, which was very special, help you personally begin to heal Tony?
To tell you the truth I’ve been having a very hard time about this. However knowing that Todd’s ashes were put in the Ganges River in India as he had requested that gives me great peace and hope for him to n the afterlife and the next life.
As you journey through this loss, what have you taken from Todd's life here and desire to pass on to future generations?
Life is short. Love yourself. Do what you love. Because you love it.
You knew Todd very well, what would Todd tell you as you sit here today chatting about his life and what would he tell you to focus on for your tomorrow?
I think Todd would tell me to keep on rocking. And to heal myself from all my personal pain . I think he would also tell me that he was OK. He actually came to me in a dream the night he died. It is very heavy and very personal and I believe it was him and that was his Soul reaching out to me. I love him and I miss him so much. I hate that he’s gone.
Formed in 2004 by front-man Tony West, Blacklist Union released their debut After The Mourning in April of 2006, which was met by critical acclaim all across the globe. From Memphis to Melbourne to Louisiana to London, Blacklist Union instantly made a mark throughout the rock n’ roll underground. Their follow-up in 2008 Breakin’ Bread With The Devil with tracks including the title track, along with “Sixty-Five Steps Away” and “Wicked Love Song,” received the same amount of critical acclaim and put them on the map in the rock n’ roll world yet again. The band’s third full-length CD entitled, Til Death Do Us Part was released in 2012 and features amazing tracks including “Alabama Slammer” & “Diggin’ 4 Gold” was received yet again with the highest ratings and reviews in the press. Blacklist Union released their fourth CD, Back to Momo’ in July 2015, which has without a doubt has been received with as much or even more enthusiasm as their prior 3 releases & has certainly been exposing them to a larger audience around the world.
Blacklist Union have toured nationally receiving five star reviews from music industry magazines, fanzines, webzines, and has a continuously growing fan base both domestically and internationally. With all of their hard work and perseverance, Blacklist Union are a true rock n’ roll band that continuously push themselves to the limit in every aspect of their music. Singer/songwriter Tony West tackles real life situations that affect each and every one of us in one form or another. From character assassination, to name dropping, addictions, sexual innuendos, romance, friendships, birth, death and living on the edge of destruction is just a fraction of what is touched on in their music.
Blacklist Union previously worked with Doug Goldstein and When Pigs Fly Entertainment. The former Guns n’ Roses manager and now former Blacklist Union manager has said that Back to Momo is “The best record that he’s heard since Appetite For Destruction and that “Tony West is the hardest working frontman he knows.” Hailed worldwide as the next “big rock band”, Blacklist Union are clearly on their way from the street to the elite.