THE BLACK LIPS! Interview
Jared Swilley, getting vertical in Florence, Italy.
By: Rich Tupica
The Black Lips arrived at the Magic Stick in Detroit for the second show of their U.S.tour with the garage-noise-pop band Be Your Own Pet, who you may have seen recently on the Conan O'Brien Show. During The Terrible Two's opening set, The Black Lips were hanging out at the merch-booth selling some vinyl and pimping their Black Lips commemorative plates, which likely serve as weed trays to their stoned fans, this was all business as usual. The momentous part of the evening was watching The Black Lips slowly fill the stage with their brand new gear, Fender guitars, a Gretsch bass and drum-kit, topped off with new amplifiers all around. The old and beaten instruments that The Black Lips had lugged around on many previous tours were now left behind in Georgia. Their new set-up sparkled like it was purchased from the guitar shop moments before the show.
This is a pivotal time for Atlanta's original flower-punk band, they recently signed with the Brooklyn-based Vice Records, who host some MTV friendly bands such as: Death From Above 1979, Bloc Party, The Stills and English-rapper The Streets. The Black Lips first release on Vice Records will be a live album recorded in Mexico, a new studio-album is also on the way with their new label, So have The Black Lips "made it" in the music business?
When I asked Vice Records General Manager Adam Shore what are the chances of seeing The Black Lips on MTV someday soon? He said, "Very likely, we've had four of our bands on there already, and their music-booker loves bands that do more than just play, he wants to create great television, and I know The Black Lips will make for great television." Some fans may be worried that a "bigger" label such as Vice and MTV exposure may in turn, change the band's lo-fi sound. "It's not our intention to change the band, it's their records, we're just putting them out. But if they ever did want to experiment with a more clear sound, we would indulge them," said Shore.
Jared Swilley, vocalist & bassist, as well as a founding member of The Black Lips, took some time after their Detroit set to fill me in on some of the huge changes evolving around Hotlanta's most notorious band.
So Jared, The Black Lips just hooked up with Vice Records, how did that go down?
“Yeah, we just signed a few days ago, and we just got back from Mexico with them where we recorded a live record. But, they just came to our show in Brooklyn and we started hanging out and then they flew us to Norway.”
Where was the live album recorded?
"We just recorded the live record in Tijuana, Mexico at the Salón Social Blanco y Negro, and that is coming out in January, I just have to finish the artwork."
Are you guys working on any new material for a new studio album?
"The whole next album is written and done, I’m sure we’ll write more in the studio. We started recording the second week of December, I think? But yeah, we already have enough songs for the next album."
You have a double LP with In The Red coming soon too, where did those tracks come from?
“We have a whole album worth of material coming out on In The Red called 'Last of the White Niggers,' you know, we have about twenty-five songs that we never released, because we record so much.”
How far do the songs on Last of the White Niggers date back?
“From 2000 up until just a few months ago.”
The Black Lips! Joe, Ian, Jared and Cole
The Black Lips seem to tour constantly, how do you guys pass time while in the conversion van?
“We rip each other, goof off and smoke pot when we have it. At 6 o’clock we listen to 'All Things Considered' on N.P.R. That’s like our only thing, because we don’t have music in our van, no radio, no cds, no nothing."
Do you guys have any 7” singles or anything else on the way?
“Oh, well, we're doing a single with Norton Records for the The Rolling Stones Series and we're going to do a song for that. I think we're going to do a split with Demons Claws for that.”
Jumping back a little bit, when did you guys first start playing together as The Black Lips?
"It must’ve been around ‘99 or something like that. I was like 15 or 16 when we started. Then when we were all 17, that is when we started touring, that’s when we moved out and got kicked out of school."
What about the songwriting, does the entire band write material?
"It’s pretty much even, everyone has their own songs. Which, usually turns out that everyone has the same amount of songs and we just work on them together. We don’t really practice ever in the past two or three years, but the guys came over to my house the other day and we rocked out in my living room on acoustic guitars."
What's some crazy shit you have seen at some of your shows?
“We’ve toured so much and played so many shows it’s hard to really single out anything. But, just when we got back from Tijuana it was pretty crazy. We had to attack a bunch of people in the audience, I had to beat a guy up, there was a girl on stage fingering herself, we had a mariachi band on stage, other guys were fighting each other. Usually it’s pretty wild, tonight was extremely tame. I’ve had to go to the hospital after a few shows."
I noticed you guys have some shiny-new guitars and shit!
“Yeah! It’s our second show ever with brand new shit! I’ve never had a new guitar or a new amp. This is the first time we’ve played without technical difficulties since day one."
So, does it seem like your music is starting to pay-off a bit?
"Yeah, it’s nice, but as things get easier they still get harder at the same time, because you have more responsibilities. We don’t have to worry about eating anymore and I can pay rent, sometimes, most of the time, and I can break guitar strings now. So yeah, it’s cool, because usually we'd show up to places on tour and have to borrow everything."
So would The Black Lips ever go on a arena-rock tour with a big-time major label band?
“The only big band I’d ever go on tour with is the Atlanta Rhythm Section."
Black Lips! taking part in some Beach Blanket Bingo!
Some Obvious Links...
Black Lips on Myspace
Vice Records Offical Website
Vice on Myspace
In The Red Offical Website
Wanna Book the Atlanta Rhythm Section?
Listen to the "All things Considered" radio-show on-line!
Interview with Adam Shore, of Vice Records
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