Interview: The Black Lips
By Kayleen Fulton
It’s 7 PM on March 24 and Black Lips have just finished their soundcheck for their second night at the Casbah in San Diego. Everyone’s a little groggy from a long evening the night before (minus Cole Alexander, whose ever-present enthusiasm is hard to match), but the band is gearing up for another night flush with a shit-ton of ruckus, as is usual with this raucous flower punk band.
Kayleen Fulton: So you got kicked out from your last stint here at the Hard Rock on your birthday last year?
Jared Swilley: Yeah. It was weird because they didn’t really kick us out. Like, they shut down the show, but we were staying in the hotel and they still let us stay in the rooms. They even sent a cake up to my room afterwards.
KF: Do you often get kicked out of venues?
JS: A few times, but it’s not a regular thing that happens. It’s definitely happened before.
Cole Alexander: It’s not totally surprising, sometimes, but it’s every once in a while.
JS: It used to happen a lot when we were first starting out cause we were underage. A lot of shows got shut down because of that. We’d be on tour and we’d get there and they wouldn’t let us play. But that’s not for anything we did – it was just for existing.
CA: Sometimes for the mayhem, like, we were in Portland and everyone started throwing bottles at us. Glass broke over my head. We had to fight people off. Sometimes it’s not a hateful thing, it’s just out of love. Just going HAM.
JS: Actually, we’ve played the Hard Rock Hotel twice, once in Las Vegas and once in San Diego and both of those shows got shut down. The one in Vegas got shut down after one song.
CA: My amp broke at the one in Las Vegas and I mooned the crowd because I didn’t know what to do and the giant security guard was like, “You can stop now” and he was just so big we were actually like, “Okay”.
JS: Well, he didn’t really do anything, he just pulled his pants down and played the song with his pants down.
CA: Some girl in LA pulled her pants down and had spelled Black Lips on her butt – she got the take down by security.
JS: (Laughs) Security got her well-acquainted with the pavement.
CA: I was always raised not to hit a woman, but the rules are all out the window sometimes with that security – they feel threatened.
KF: Are you planning on releasing anything soon?
JS: We have a 7” coming out in a few days. That’s just one song – split with our friends from Omaha, called Icky Blossoms. That’s not even one of our songs – it’s just a cover of a Waylon Jennings/Willie Nelson song. But we’re working on a new album now.
KF: Any idea what you’ll be titling it?
JS: No clue. We don’t even have names for the songs. But we’ve been playing a lot of new songs. It’ll hopefully be out in 2013.
KF: Will you be taking it in any new directions?
CA: I’m sure we will, we always experiment and dabble with new things.
KF: Do you guys have any intimate songs that maybe haven’t fit on any records that you’ve wanted to put out?
CA: Sappy songs?
CA: I have one song for the new record that I could do but I was kind of embarrassed because it’s too sappy. I’ll guess we’ll try it but if it doesn’t fit… (shrugs). We’ve had some tongue in cheek sappy songs before.
KF: Would you consider anything you have right now ‘sappy’?
CA: Dirty hands might be a little intentionally sappy.
JS: There are a few. Sometimes. I like sappy songs. I listen to a lot of doo-wop and 50s kind of stuff.
KF: It’s great that you guys are playing the Casbah twice in a row. Why do that?
CA: It’s good because I feel like we’re growing. We haven’t had an album out in two years, so we’re worried that people forgot about us.
KF: You guys are fairly hard to forget – your shows can get pretty rowdy.
JS: We like to give people good memories, scars… but not painful scars.
CA: We’d rather be bad than forgettable.
KF: What’s the craziest stunt you guys have pulled on stage?
JS: Uh, probably something that I can’t remember… Me and Cole got in a fight one time. We used to not make a lot of money and so we had to be ‘budget’ about things and we bought this guitar from Ian but we split it ’cause neither one of us could afford the whole thing and we were playing this show in Italy and he was playing out of tune or playing the song wrong… we were just sucking… so I went and, I don’t even remember why I did it, I did it without thinking, like b**** slapped him.
CA: And defensively, with the guitar, I swung it at him.
JS: He smashed my face with it.
CA: It had a little point thing and it cut him open. And everyone starting freaking out. And then I felt really bad, so I smashed the guitar, but that made me feel even worse ’cause we had split it. Everybody started wrestling for the guitar pieces… we never saw that guitar again.
Despite the Lips’ raucous attitude on stage, Swilley encourages fans to stay safe in the crowd – good advice for a crowd that apparently can’t be handled by the Hard Rock in any state.