We’ll keep saying it until it’s ingrained in and absorbed by our readers: Rock ‘n’ roll is, most certainly, NOT dead! For several years now, some downright kickass songs by current rock bands have been showcased on StripJointsMusic.com, featuring songs that are aimed directly at adult club DJs. And let’s face it, you can’t play hip-hop all the time … as they say, variety is the spice of life, and nowhere is that more apparent than on a strip-club DJs playlist!

The newest rock band to be on display via StripJoints is Blacklist Union, a talented band driven by frontman Tony West, himself a rock veteran whose career stretches back a few decades. Featuring a shamanistic blend of Stone Temple Pilots, G N’ R, Malfunkshun, and Mother Love Bone… Blacklist Union was born in 2006, and has released five albums to date including their current release Letters from the Psych Ward.

ExoticDancer.com had the opportunity to speak with Tony West, lead singer of Blacklist Union, courtesy of Bob Chiappardi and StripJointsMusic.com.

(Note: The interview was conducted by Ilan Fong, Danny Meyers and Bob Chiappardi, with questions courtesy of ED Publications.)

ED: It’s been said quite a few times by quite a few people over the last few years: “Rock is dead.” We, of course, don’t believe that for a second! But in your opinion, what does it take for a rock band to stand out and get noticed in 2023? How has Blacklist Union carved out its own niche in the world of modern rock music?

WEST: I definitely don’t think rock is dead. Just like anything, it evolves. I mean, thank God for Seattle because it wiped off all the poser bands back in the ’90s. Now is the perfect time for a kick-ass rock band to come along and conquer the world. Blacklist Union has our own sound, and we don’t change because something is hip or trendy. We stick to our guns and do what we do.

ED: This new album, “Letters From the Psych Ward,” is the band’s fifth album. How has your music evolved from the first full-length album “After the Mourning” to now?

WEST: Being human, you wanna grow. And as a human, and as a spirit here on planet earth, I have definitely evolved and healed through traumas and pains. I think that definitely shows in each album, especially Letters From the Psych Ward.

ED: Who are the main songwriters in Blacklist Union, and how does the creative process typically work? Who writes the music/riffs, who writes the lyrics, etc?

WEST: I’ve had the honor of working with many great songwriters. This last record after the death of Todd Youth, who I wrote “Back to Momo” with, it was very difficult trying to find someone to actually write with. That seems to be a lost art and commodity nowadays. This last record I wrote with Chris Johnson, who produced all the Blacklist Union records. Usually, I’m presented with music and I write the melodies and the lyrics.

ED: The band’s bio mentions Kevin Wood, brother of the late Andy Wood, and you list Mother Love Bone as one of your influences. Is the song “Goodbye Mr. Faded Glory” a nod to Mother Love Bone, specifically, to perhaps what is their most well-known song “Crown of Thorns”? What is this song about specifically?

WEST: Yes, it is a nod to Andrew Wood, my biggest influence. I actually got to sing in my hero’s band, his first band, Malfunkshun, which was the pre-Mother Love Bone days. Actually, Malfunkshun is credited for being the godfathers of the whole Seattle scene. And yes, “Goodbye Mr. Faded Glory” is definitely a nod to Andrew Wood and Mother Love Bone, but it’s also about letting go of the pain and not using that as my identity anymore.

ED: The internet and streaming can be both a blessing and a curse to bands today. On one hand, streaming makes people think they only have to pay $9 a month for all of the music they can listen to. On the other hand, the internet, social media, sites like Bandcamp, etc., make it easier for any bands – not just ‘signed’ bands — to get noticed. What’s your take on whether the internet and streaming help or hurt bands today?

WEST: You know, the whole Internet thing, I’m really not a fan of. It’s a necessary evil nowadays. It has its good points and its bad points, but I think, like the old saying goes, ‘The cream always rises to the top.’ It’s just hard to weed through and find good quality new bands that write songs and have a vibe. I don’t like social media and we usually have someone running that for us. It’s shocking to me that there are actual people who love that kind of stuff.

ED: Tony, you have some real strong, stand-out vocal performances throughout this new album. Is there a particular track that you think showcases your vocals more than the others, and why does this song stand out for you?

WEST: I have done eight records so far in my career, five with Blacklist Union, and I have to say that “Dirty Halo” is my most favorite song I’ve ever recorded. It’s a very deep, spiritual song. I think it captures magic. Hands-down, that’s my favorite song I’ve ever done.

West, bottom right

ED: The song “Keys to the Kingdom” has a very catchy vibe to it, with its shout-along intro and chorus. This is the track we’re promoting to adult nightclub DJs all across the US: Why should club DJs give this track a spin? (As a bonus, it’s three minutes, which in a strip-club setting is a major plus!)

WEST: I think “Keys to the Kingdom” is a great song. It has meaning, it has groove, and it’s super catchy and danceable. I think people will definitely like it.

ED: What are Blacklist Union’s upcoming tour plans for 2024?

WEST: We plan on going to Europe next year in 2024, and we’re definitely going to be doing some regional touring in the South and Midwest.

ED: Do you have any fun strip club stories from your time on the road? Any favorite clubs or cities, or any memorable evenings?

WEST: As a matter of fact, I do. We were playing in Detroit once, and we went to this strip club after the gig. This dancer was trying to get me to pay her for a lap dance. She said, “Oh, I will dance for you for free.” Our crew guy was looking at this and watching this go down, so a girl asked him, “Do you want to dance, too?” And he said, “Sure.” Four songs in, she says, “That’ll be $400.” He thought he was going to be getting a free dance, and that definitely wasn’t the case!

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