Black Lips talk touring, new album and human skulls
By Christopher Schutte
Atlanta’s Black Lips are in the midst of a virtual non-stop tour/party and will be visiting Columbus and Newport this month. The band is renowned for its unhinged live show, which includes nudity, fireworks, flaming guitars and a human skull among other things.
Vice Records will release Black Lips’ sixth studio album, Arabia Mountain, in May. In a surprising twist, the band worked with renowned DJ/producer Mark Ronson, famous for his work with neo-soul performers Amy Winehouse and Adele.
With or without Mark Ronson, this is still unmistakably a Black Lips record. The beauty is in the imperfection of it all. The DCP caught up with the band between stops for a few questions.
So you worked with producer Mark Ronson on the new record. When did Black Lips suddenly get all this industry pull? How was it working with him and are you happy with the results?
Yes, we worked with the great Mark Ronson – it was great. With it comes some industry pull, which ebbs and flows. For years it has flowed against us and now it has gone our way. You can put that in your pipe and smoke it!
You guys have been best-known (for better or worse) for your outrageous live act. With the forthcoming release of Arabia Mountain, do you now view yourselves as more of a “recording” band that also plays great live gigs?
That would be the ideal perception.
Black Lips are also known for your virtual non-stop touring including countries rarely visited by U.S. bands like Israel and India. Will this trend continue?
Yes. We’re planning a Middle East tour for the fall with Syria, Lebanon and Iraq in the mix.
I know your style has been referred to as “flower punk” and “garage punk,” but I hear a lot of Nuggets-era influences like the Seeds. Is that a fair comparison?
Definitely a fair comparison. We’re all into stuff from that era.
At times your onstage antics have overshadowed the music. Seems like that’s been toned down a bit. Is that by design, or a product of playing larger venues?
It’s totally spontaneous. We just do what we feel like. I don’t actually think the show has been tamed, it just depends on the night. It’s a mystery bag … you never know what you’re going to get!
OK, the human skull that was used in the recording sessions for Arabia Mountain … enlighten us.
Found it in a garbage can. Don’t want to know the forensic history. My plan is to have it have more in death than it had in life.
You guys look really miserable in the new video for “Go Out and Get It” where you’re partying in the Bahamas with tour mates, the Vivian Girls. I’m thinking you guys should tour together all the time. Any interesting stories we should know about?
Jared chucked his bass off the boat as an offering to Poseidon.
With 10+ years under your belt as a band, you’re not exactly an overnight success story. Why do you think Black Lips are finally reaching critical mass now? Blog love? Touring?
Certain ideas can take years for the brain to process. We’re obviously one of them.
Black Lips (with opening act, the Vivian Girls) play Outland on Liberty in Columbus on April 19. They will also at Southgate House in Newport on April 20.
Reach DCP freelance writer Christopher Schutte at email@example.com.