Cleveland punk rockers Justin Vaughn (vocals) and Steve Sherman (guitar) of Blacklister are not about sitting around and waiting for the music to come to them. Like their new album, True Lust, they embrace the music and head toward it at top speed. Filling out the stage line up with the best artists in Cleveland, the duo presents punk music with a melodic/emo vibe. It is hard hitting, high energy, and just right for a night of fun.
When it works, it works. Writing songs for Blacklister is not a slow process. Vaughn and Sherman work together like a well-oiled machine and can produce music faster than a speeding bullet. Shortly after True Lust was released, Vaughn posted to FaceBook, “We already have our next album written and are booking shows for 2016.” Sherman will record all parts of the music, then send the tracks to Vaughn, who points out, “He (Sherman) will send them to me and a lot of times, we click so well that I will listen and have the vocals written in, like twenty minutes.” In two years, the songwriting superstars have written approximately forty songs, with no plans to slow down. A new video, featuring one of the songs from True Lust, is slated to begin filming in February this year.
A day late and a dollar short. The old adage of not catching up is highlighted in the song “May 23”. May 23 is actually Vaughn’s birthday and the day when he cannot help but reflect on the past year. Lyrics say “I’m bad luck /I spilt the last of your salt /Well I learned to live one step behind feeling alright”, questioning whether it is just a stage in life or simple bad luck. While there is always a feeling of being behind at certain stages of life, luck can play a part. Even though the subject matter is slightly depressing, Blacklister presents it in a way that makes the listener feel good in understanding that everyone experiences ‘bad luck’ from time to time.
Take it up a notch. Known for high-energy shows, Vaughn and Sherman are gracious hosts as well. The excitement they feel for the music generates a party vibe, enveloping the audience like an old friend. They want you to have as much fun as they have and it works. Vaughn says, “I really want everyone to have a good time. I think of the bands I grew up watching and they had the front man that was kind of like a bridge between the crowd and the band.” Vaughn admits to his love for performing and commented that seeing the crowd smile, dance, or sing along drives him to push the limits each time. I have seen Blacklister perform many times and can honestly say there is no way to anticipate the onstage antics. No one (including the band) knows what will happen and the surprise factor keeps artist and audience coming back for more.
Indeed, the music of Blacklister is filled with emotion, outlining every aspect of life that we all go through. They have had the chance to perform with many up and coming bands, but feel their greatest musical achievements are yet to come.
True Lust is out now and available at Blacklister True Lust