By Nicholas Jason Lopez
“Keep it dirty, keep it simple” has been Lifetime Shitlist’s modus operandi since their 2012 formation, but the process to record their fourth album release ‘Bad Blood’ provided all but simplicity.
A few songs were written before a slew of lineup changes occurred. The Baltimore Hardcore/Doom Metal group parted ways with their old drummer, which led to then-Bassist Ryan Larkin to take over drums.
“I think Ryan playing drums added a lot to the way that Lifetime Shitlist’s sound has evolved since our previous records,” said Vocalist Ned Westrick. “He plays in a much more rhythmic style because he was a drummer for all sorts of different bands before he played bass in this band.”
Larkin’s “groove” style technique was strongly influenced by John Stanier, who drummed for bands like Battles and Helmet.
“I tried to kind of channel my inner John Stanier and apply that to not only this record, but when we play our set live, we incorporated a lot of the songs from our old records and we really try to find not only the heaviness in it, but also the grooves to make it more accessible to everybody. That was kind of my goal as far as taking over on the drums was to give it a ‘snap’ or something,” Larkin said.
When a revolving door of five different bass players couldn’t cut it, Westrick learned the new songs on bass.
“I recorded all of the bass tracks and all of the vocal tracks in I think in about six hours for this record,” Westrick said. “It was a little grueling, but you just kind of go in and you do it.”
In addition to Westrick and Larkin, Guitarist Matt Crocco (Iron Boss, Rancid Decay) and Guitarist Corey Fleming round out the Lifetime Shitlist lineup. All in all, it was a collective effort to do what had to get done.
“It was pretty furious as far as like getting things together and in time for the recording date, but I think I speak for all of us when I say I think it came out pretty damn good considering the amount of changes the band went through in that short period of time,” said Larkin.
Fans were given a snippet of what would come with ‘Bad Blood’ with the premiere of the album’s title track at The Obelisk on Jun. 25, 2019.
Single “Not Yet” then premiered at No Clean Singing on Jul. 11, 2019. Westrick wrote “Not Yet” with some political inspiration, such as the confirmation hearings that involved Brett Kavanaugh, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
“Really, it’s about people in power lying, when you can tell that they’re lying about things that go on and they’re trying to cover for their cast misdeeds,” said Westrick.
The song got its name when Westrick replied, “Not Yet” to his other bandmates when asked if he had a title for it. The main riff had been created in Crocco’s former band, Iron Boss.
“It started out as a rock riff that we couldn’t build a song around, so that band kind of dissolved and just eventually tried it out with Ryan on drums and it worked,” said Crocco. “I wrote the main riff and then I think Corey wrote a good chunk of it. Once we started working on the riff, the song just kind of fell together really, really quickly.”
The group followed up with single “Proud Boys,” which premiered at Ghost Cult Magazine on Jul. 31, 2019. It was inspired by the growing political division in the United States public sphere. It discusses how ideology creates its own narrative that dehumanizes non-adherents and in turn, escalates conflict. It is also expressed that in today’s world, rash thoughts and extreme positions are more quickly rewarded than tolerance or empathy.
Soon after, ‘Bad Blood’ was released Aug. 16, 2019 via Grimoire Records, nearly two years to the day since their previous 2017 full-length ‘Slow March.’ The album was recorded, mixed and mastered in Spring 2019 by Noel Mueller.
“You can bang your head to this, you can pump your fist, you can shake your butt,” said Fleming. “That’s kind of one of the neat things is that I like about this album is that that there’s a good groove to it, where maybe ‘Slow March’ was more straight forward. I think this is just a more interesting album.”
All in all, the band feels ‘Bad Blood’ is the perfect representation for where the band stands. It’s what they hoped for all along; the epitome of what Lifetime Shitlist should be.
“There’s a lot of frustration that comes out in this music for us,” Larkin said. “We all work day jobs, we get [the] daily grind and stuff beats down on us and this is one hundred percent our outlet to get that off our chest and to be able to function as normal human beings throughout the rest of the week. We come down, beat the shit out of our equipment and we play loud, heavy, fast, hard music and it makes us feel better. We don’t play rhythm and blues. We don’t have the blues. We’ve got rhythm and anger.”