Interview - Black Lips
We catch up with Atlanta's favourite punks Black Lips for a chat about their new record.
It's 7am Perth time when my phone rings with an ultra polite conference call man connecting me through to Jared Swilley, the bass-playing party extraordinaire from Atlanta, Gerogia. We are a both a little hazy, I've had like three hours sleep and he is currently driving from one show to the next, in the mountains on his way to Portland. The phone will drop out three times before the interview is done which is tough at the best of times but the state we are both in is making things a touch hard.
Fortunately Jared is a lord about the constant drops out and we have a great chat about their latest record Underneath the Rainbow, which has just come out, the truth about SXSW and touring the Middle East.
Underneath the Rainbow is the new record, it’s been three years in the making since Arabic Mountain so what’s been happening in the world of Black Lips?
Well, we toured a lot. When we go on tour it's not like we just tour the US, Europe and a few other spots, we actually tour the whole world so it takes a while. We toured the Middle East last and made a documentary, so in a way we’ve stayed busy. We made time to sit on our porches and nothing for a bit and now we have the record out it's back to touring. We’re driving to Portland at the moment through the mountains and there is all this crazy fog it looks awesome.
How would you describe the Underneath the Rainbow?
It’s hard to describe but it’s definitely us, it’s Black Lips, it’s what we know and love. We make the music we like, listen to and play well I guess, so this record is just a continuation from what love to make.
I’ve heard you worked with Pat Carney from The Black Keys and some of the guys from The Dap Kings while recording the album, how was the recording process?
Yeah, we worked with Pat. He produced about half the record, he was easy to work with as we got on well and have similar interests so it was fun. We worked with The Dap Kings as a group a lot more on the last record when the put a bunch of horns down on the tracks, this time we had Tom (Brenneck) come in and produce tracks. He does a lot of work with Mark Ronson and we have worked with both of them in the past.
The album has been streaming over on Pitchfork for a few weeks now and just recently came out a few days ago, how has the response been so far?
It’s been crazy, everyone is loving it or at least they seem to be. As I said we have already starting touring and every night the places are full and all the kids just keep on dancing and rocking out, singing along to the all songs even pretending to know the words to the new ones and get them wrong, which is quite funny to watch from stage. It’s great, we’re super happy with this record so it’s good to have had such a positive reception.
Your live shows are legendary. Now that the record has dropped and you’re out touring again what will ensue and are there any special plans?
We will be going everywhere. We have no special plans, we are ultra spontaneous and just see what happens, making plans takes up time and we are not a circus. The circus plans everything we are not like that. The circus can’t have a trapeze person fall from the rafters or an elephant run through into the bleachers, but that would work well for us, haha.
You recently played at South by Southwest, how was it? I know you have played it many times. Is it as good as what everyone proclaims or has it become another corporate monster?
It's just work for us now. We’ve been there 10 times and I don’t think we’ve ever had too much fun. It takes an hour to piss, get a taxi or even walk anywhere, it’s a wristband for here a wristband for their kinda thing. We are usually pretty busy when where there so we don’t even get to check out too many new bands or catch up with friends, well this year we didn’t.
I don’t think the idea of it has changed it has just outgrown what it was; I think it was always going to happen. If you’re in a young band then it's awesome - you come over and for the whole week you play, party, meet new people and basically try and get work. The whole industry is here for a week. It has become quite corporate over the last few years as sponsorship has increased and brands have wanted to get involved instead of just naming things, but such is the nature of the beast. It’s not all that bad though sometimes these things are needed to sustain it and make it bigger and better. I just don’t like that it takes an hour to have a piss.
Now finally touching on the Middle East tour. What was the experience and reception like?
Man it was amazing, it wasn’t scary or anything like that. We made a documentary about it (Kids Like You & Me). The crowds were great, we had heap of sold out shows, nothing huge but it was fun and always a real buzz. I think we were the first western punk band to ever play shows like these over there so kids were coming out and learning to mosh or dance to our songs it was rad.
Finally, last question. When will we see you guys back in Aus?
We love it over there, especially in the summer months. We may be coming back around December or January.
Head to the band's WEBSITE to purchase your copy of Underneath The Rainbow.