Georgia’s Black Lips tackle Neumos this Thursday, June 16th for what’s sure to be a wildly entertaining evening. They’ve got a mostly unclassifiable sound with rhythm and blues as the predominant theme, but their music changes. It can change while you listen to it and the next time it’s even different again. Arabia Mountain, the group’s 6th album, was released this month. It’s rabid and then some. Singer/guitarist Cole Alexander talked with me last week about Black Lips’ audience, the band’s special brew, and more.
Cole Alexander: I was on some website, and there was this kid whose dad was in the FBI, and he found this tape in the attic years later. There’s a whole tape of this stuff, 45 minutes of the last moments of Jonestown Camp in Guyana. I listened to the whole thing, and that was my favorite part. They all wanted to die, and this one lady had second thoughts about it. And then another lady comes and says, “I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to go.” And she said it with such conviction. We clipped that out and put it in the intro.
I was reading that you initially wanted to go into genetics?
CA: When I was in elementary school I wanted to be a geneticist. I was studying some bugs and I liked it, but the teacher didn’t think that was a good game plan for me. She said, “Cole, you will never be a geneticist.” I didn’t have good grades. But you know what? I make more money than she does now.
You played at Cannes Film Festival a couple years ago?
CA: Yes we played – we played twice. It was great. I had to wear sunglasses because I was blinded by all the stars. The stars at night are brighter than the sun will ever be.
How did you decide on the title of Arabia Mountain for the new album?
CA: It’s a place in Georgia, outside Atlanta. We shot photos there for the album cover. They also shot the movie Pet Sematary Two there. You know that scene where the cat comes out of the ground and fucking rips that kid’s head off? That was the some spot where we shot the cover.
You had plans to work with Wafah Bin Laden (Osama Bin Laden’s niece). She’s a singer?
CA: She’s a singer and a model – she’s a beautiful person. She does indie/pop . . . she kind of got mad at us because some publications exploited our relationship. They thought we were trying to exploit her family name to advance our career. That wasn’t the case. I think she got the wrong idea. I didn’t write the article – don’t hate the player, hate the game. I took her out on a date and asked her out on another date – she said call me – and I never talked to her again after she read this article. I wanted to sample Whitney Houston and make a song with her . . . she’s nice though, I like her. She comes from a very smart, wealthy and intelligent family. I wish her all the luck.
Black Lips – photo by Zach Wolfe
I came across an article mentioning that you once hit Jared [Swilley, bassist/singer] onstage with your guitar?
CA: I think he slapped me and I pointed my guitar at him, but I didn’t mean for the sharp part to puncture his head. We worked through it.
Do you notice your audiences getting into fights a lot?
CA: We have pissed fights, cat fights, brawls. . . referee matches. People like to hurt each other sometimes.
Is it just the energy of the music?
CA: Our show is sex and violence. That’s what people come for.
I’ll be seeing you guys for the first time.
CA: You better bring your big boy pants.
I’ll probably try to stay behind the action.
CA: There’s no where to hide. You can stand behind all the people you want but there’s no where to hide. We’ll find you. You can hide but you can’t run.
What’s the Black Lips song you think fans relate to the most?
CA: A lot of our fans are able to relate to our song “Bad Kids.” It’s very to common to come from a broken home. Everybody knows what it’s like to be bad. Everybody shit their pants when they were a baby. Everybody was a bad boy and got put in time out.
Do you like dancing?
CA: I like dancing. [It’s] The art of the goths. I like a lot of oldies, old rhythm and blues. A little rap.
Where did you film the video for “Go Out and Get It”?
CA: We shot the “Go Out and Get It” video on a cruise ship on the way to the Bahamas, believe it or not. Pretty thrifty. It was a blast.
Do you still have this cocktail you made?
CA: D-Tune juice? That is back in the laboratory. They’re working out some kinks because some of the sex herbs are not approved by the FDA. The world isn’t really ready yet. [The FDA] doesn’t want you to have real food – they want you to have shitty McDonald’s that gives you cancer. We try to give them Brazilian sex herbs infused with vodka, and they get all huffy about it.
I read an interview where Jared was asked what his favorite cartoon character was. What’s yours?
CA: I’ve got a lot of favorite cartoon characters. Right now I’m thinking of Pig-Pen from Peanuts. I like Dopey from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs because he’s fucking strung out. I’m going to get some gold chains that represent each of them – a diamond-encrusted Pig-Pen chain and a diamond-encrusted Dopey chain.
Is there a particular Black Lips song you’re really enjoying performing lately?
CA: “Mr. Driver.” It’s different from a lot of stuff we’ve done in the past.
interview by Dagmar