South Florida's hardcore scene has always been a proud one. While we've had our share of bands go on to enjoy national recognition, it seems like we've spent more time waiting for the rest of the national hardcore scene to catch up while we scream our own praises between Palm Beach County and Miami. Bands like Centuries, Axis, and, most recently, Blistered are working hard to break the cycle for a new generation of South Florida hardcore bands.
Reared and schooled in the tradition of the signature metallic-tinged hardcore that was Florida's calling card in the '90s, Blistered has recently tasted major success with its debut EP -- out on one of the genre's most exciting labels, 6131 Records -- performing at South by Southwest, and showing the rest of the nation on tour that there is more to South Florida than swamps and geriatrics.
We believe Blistered deserves your undivided attention. As such, we spoke with the band's frontman (and one of the busiest musicians in the area period), William Lennon Livesay, about the band's recent triumphs, growing up in South Florida hardcore, and the importance of all-ages venues.
Tell me about the band's new record deal.
We just signed a deal with 6131 Records. We just put out an EP with them, and it's been really awesome so far. We're label mates with Strife, which is obviously a big deal for us because we're named after a Strife song; that band's a big influence for us.
A lot of really cool, current bands have put out records on 6131: Backtrack, Alpha and Omega, Rotting Out. And they have a pretty diverse roster too; they have a bunch of different stuff. It's been awesome. They've come through with everything to the capacity that they said they were going to and beyond that, and they've been really helpful to us so far.
What format did the EP come out in?
They pressed it to a 12-inch, which was really badass. We went over the time restrictions for a seven-inch, and we were thinking we were going to have to cut a song, but they were willing to throw the extra money down to have us put it out on a one-sided 12-inch. We played South by Southwest, and they were going to do a run of tapes for South By because the records weren't ready yet, and they ended up just deciding to do a bigger run of tapes so they can sell them along with the record in the webstore too. So it's on vinyl and cassette.
That's really cool that such a notable label has been so accommodating for a young band.
Yeah, they've been really awesome. Everything they've done has been done in a really timely manner. They haven't cut any corners, the records look great, the packaging looks great, they got us hooked up with a really, really badass person for mixing and mastering. They've been really, really accommodating, especially for a young band that really hasn't done too much before they picked us up, and they've definitely taken a chance on us, which is really fucking cool!
It's great to see a label really practice what they preach in hardcore.
The two dudes that run the label, Sean and Joey, they're both really awesome, and they're both hardcore kids at the end of the day, so they get it. They're not taking us for a ride or doing anything shitty. Sean, the guy we talk to a lot, is from Florida originally, and he grew up listening to, like, Snapcase and Morning Again -- hardcore bands from the '90s that influenced us -- so I think he kind of took a liking to our sound and has a kindred spirit coming from the same place, so it's been really cool.
What other bands are you currently in?
Right now, I play in a band called Hardwired, which is like a faster hardcore-punk band, and I play guitar in Shovelhead and Jungle Law, both of which are more metal bands -- Shovelhead being more death-metal-influenced and Jungle Law being more thrash-influenced. Those are really the only bands I'm still playing with seriously right now.
You've been in a lot of bands over the years. Can you tell me a bit about your experience coming up in South Florida's hardcore scene?
South Florida hardcore has been one of the most positive influences that's ever come into my life. All of my best friends are all people that I've met going to hardcore shows in South Florida. I moved away for a couple of years and lived in Tampa when I was going to school, and they have a really cool hardcore scene there, but it made me appreciate South Florida even more, and recently going on tour and seeing other cities has made me appreciate what we have in South Florida.
It's a very cool scene, it's a very tight-knit community, there's never any fights or bullshit at shows anymore, everybody is a friend, and everyone comes out and has fun -- it's just supercool. There's obviously a lot of really great bands currently, and there have always been a lot of great bands in South Florida. So coming up in South Florida... I'm pretty privileged to be part of such a cool hardcore scene. I'd say South Florida kind of catches a bad rap sometimes, and Florida in general -- like people make fun of a lot of bands in Florida for being corny or whatever -- but, I think we have a scene that blows away a lot of other places in the country right now.
And that's a perspective formed from touring and seeing what's out there firsthand.
We've played shows in L.A., right outside of Boston, Philly, Long Island, Dallas -- all of these places that have hardcore scenes now that get a lot of attention or have historically gotten a lot of attention -- and those cities are all badass, and they have great bands, and I think that's really cool. But I think South Florida's on par with a lot of those places, and it's crazy to me that South Florida doesn't get the recognition a lot of those places get.
I've witnessed a lot of aging members of South Florida's hardcore scene get very negative about all-ages spots like the Talent Farm. Can you tell me how integral having a place like the Talent Farm has been to the development of hardcore for you and your peers?
The first show I ever went to, ever, was at the Talent Farm. I don't even remember what it was, but when I was really young -- obviously way before I had any idea what hardcore was or that it even existed -- I would go to shows at the Talent Farm. Kevin Burns is far and away one of the most nurturing people that I've ever met; he does so much for any band no matter where they're from or what they sound like. He busts his ass to make sure there's a cool space for young kids to come out to, and it's awesome that it's an all-ages venue, which is pretty hard to come by.
Between what Kevin Burns and John McHale have been doing recently, putting on all-ages shows at Talent Farm, there's been such a crazy spike in attendance with new people coming in, and that's the most important thing for keeping a hardcore scene going is getting new people involved.