For over a decade, the Black Lips have seen many labels thrown at them but none have ever fit. With a reputation for some rather provocative theatrics and choice words for other artists they have always created a small ruckus every time they visit a town or release a record. However, they also show no resistance in working with noted producers like Mark Ronson and lending their music to the occasional commercial. In short, the Black Lips know how to keep food on their plate without losing a strong credibility as one of the premiere acts of the “Flower Punk” genre.
Labeling them under this genre isn’t fair as they encompass a variety of styles and influences. Coming from the great state of Georgia it’s easy to have a wealth of influences and it has reflected in the groups expansive discography. While a new album is due in the next year the band is continuing their endless touring cycle with a brief tour of the east coast which includes a stop this Sunday at the famed Asbury Lanes. Along for the ride will be a documentary, Kids Like You & Me, which chronicles the band’s tour of the Middle East in 2012.
Bassist Jared Swilley was able to take some time out in preparation for the tour to answer a few questions for Pop-Break about band labels, eating cool new foods, and the band’s plans to finish their goal of playing on every continent.
Pop-Break: First and foremost I want to know if you guys are any closer to fulfilling your goal of playing on all seven continents. Metallica right now is probably going to beat you to the number two spot of bands to play Antarctica.
Jared Swilley: We are close to reaching our goal of playing in Antarctica, making us the first band to play on all seven continents. I haven’t heard about Metallica going there. They may have more money and resources, but we have more heart and at the end of the day that will trump those geezers. I have a gut feeling that they stole the idea from us as we’ve been talking about it for a few years now.
PB: You guys have played in every part of the world for the most which is something that most bands don’t attempt.
JS: We’ve played in many parts of the world. We still haven’t been to sub-saharan Africa, Central Asia, or mainland China. Just give us some more time and we’ll have those covered soon enough.
PB: What fascinates you the most about playing different parts of the world that most bands won’t?
JS: Pretty much everything everywhere fascinates us. If a place is there, why not go to it? it’s a lot of fun and a really good learning experience. You eat cool food and get to meet new people and it makes your Passport look impressive.
PB: Where did the idea of bringing a documentary film crew along for your Middle East tour come from? Usually something like this in such a war torn area is done for some cause but this seems to be for a much different reason.
JS: We didn’t actually go to any war torn areas. We went to a few places that were once war torn, but are now solid for the most part. We always wanted to go to the Middle East because in our life times it’s been the focus of the entire world, and nobody except soldiers and contractors ever go there. It seemed like an interesting challenge and I am very happy that we went and had the opportunity to go. Our only cause for going was to meet people, have fun, and try to make other people have fun and be happy. We brought the film crew along because it seemed like it was worth documenting.
PB: You have said that peoples’ perception of the Middle East is rather eschewed. I feel the same can be said of you guys. You are passed off as part of the “flower punk” genre but you guys have also said you are a Southern rock band. How do you feel about how people see you? Do you feel you guys have an identity as a band?
JS: I think we can be pretty misunderstood sometimes. That’s okay though. Everyone perceives things differently. We’re just a Rock and Roll band from the south that does stuff sometimes.
PB: How far along into the next record are you guys? Last time I checked you had talked about going with Mark Ronson again as producer but then I heard Patrick Carney. I assume Bradford Cox will have some involvement.
JS: The record is pretty much done, musically. We were gonna work with Mark but it ended up not working out. We did most of it with Patrick in Nashville, and the rest with Tom Brenneck at Dunham studios in Brooklyn. Bradford was supposed to do some stuff with us but he never showed up.
PB: What has working with a producer been like for you as a band? Mark Ronson’s inclusion on Arabia Mountain yielded some interesting results but they seem very natural considering your sound.
JS: Working with a producer is great. It’s nice to have a fifth ear in there. Sometimes you’re trying to do something and everyone is just shrugging and staring blankly, then the producer jumps in the room and throws his arm into the air, finger pointed towards the Heavens, and screams, “I’ve got it!” and BAM you got what you were looking for.
PB: Arabia Mountain wasn’t a departure but an extension of the sound you guys have been developing. What can we expect on the next album?
JS: The next album sounds like us. It’s a natural progression from Arabia Mountain. Maybe it’s darker? but there’s still a bunch of pop songs.
PB: Do you guys have any other plans you have in mind beyond a new album and hopefully playing in Antarctica?
JS: We’re gonna tour the world a few times over. Go into Asia and South America more, keep recording and make a bunch of videos and things of that nature
The Black Lips will have a double shot in Asbury Park, N.J. on Sunday November 3rd. The band’s film Kids Like You and Me will debut at The Showroom, the city’s art house cinema, click here for tickets. The band will perform at 8pm with Subsonics at The Asbury Lanes, click here for tickets.