Q+A/Video: Black Lips

July 24, 2007

Atlanta's Black Lips seem to have been forgiven for their many trespasses in New York clubs, the Village Voice going so far as to invite them to grace/desecrate the main stage at this year's Siren Festival on Coney Island last weekend. The foursome brought the same sort of big-dicked abandon they've been caned and applauded for—hocking and catching their own loogies, tonguing their guitars and one another. It was all pretty awesome and so much more. For those of you who chose to drift over to the second stage for a spoon with Lavender Diamond, y'all missed something extra-special: Dudes upped the ante and brought an Alice Cooper-inspired feather gun NOT TO MENTION a feathery friend of their own (he goes by "Popcorn"). But before they blew minds and violated numerous Coney Island ordinances, multiple Lips took five with us to discuss racism, freaks and the existential quandary of the chicken. And just this afternoon, they popped the video for "Katrina" on us, the very song we discussed at length with them about. The video is up top, photos and interview after the jump.

You guys try out any of the rides today?

Joe Bradley: I was on the Wonder Wheel. They’ve got these swinging cars you can get in. They start swinging real violently. It’s awesome. Jared rode the Cyclone.

Jared Swilley: Yeah and the pirate ship, too!

JB: Those pirate ships freak me out. There’s no seat belts or anything, just a bar.

What about the freak show?

JB: No I saw it but there was some guy out there yelling, “step right up!,” or some type of bullshit. The Wonder Wheel was five bucks, I can’t imagine what the freak show costs. I bet it’s just a bunch of S&M goth guys back there.

I once saw the world’s smallest woman in Little Italy. She looked really sad. We made eye contact. I felt horrible for days.

JB: Aw, man. You know that town in Florida where all the freaks retired to in like north central Florida?


JB: They have like, the really tall guy who married the woman with no legs. They live in a house down there with a bunch of other freaks.

That’s crazy

JB: Yeah. It’s really crazy.

That’s not the anywhere near the place with the psychics is it?

JB: No, I think that’s somewhere else. What was her name, Madame Cleo or whatever? She got busted sooo hard. She wasn’t even Jamaican!

I totally forgot about her!

JB: There was this one psychic called Madam Belle. She always had the most ghetto commercials in Atlanta. And then one day she turned up dead, floating in her office fountain and the news anchor was like, “Well I guess she didn’t see that one coming.”

Cole Alexander: Nuh uh! Hell no! She did not say that!

JB: Yes, she said that! Monica Kaufman.

CA: That’s just tactless.

I got to hear some of your new jams. They’re really good. Why did you name that track Navajo?

JB: We didn’t have a lot of lyrics written while we were recording. So we were really strapped for any type of content ideas. I just thought about Indians because the song is a little bit western. I tried a couple of Indian-related stereotypes or topics and just threw them all in.

CA: You didn’t think it was racist, did you? We were worried that people might think it’s racist.

JB: I am saying positive things about them.

No, not really. I did think a bit about baseball teams…

CA: The Braves! We’ve got the Braves! They got shit for that!

Do you they still do the Tomahawk chop?

CA: Yeah, they still do that. But there’s protests before and that’s why I was wondering if people were going to freak out.

JS: Sometimes people just need to lighten up.

CA: We have Indian in us, me and Jared, so…

JS: Yeah, I got Cherokee blood in me.

I was blessed by a Navajo medicine man when I was born. I have a Navajo name.

JB: Goddamn!

Little Warrior.

JS: Yeah, if they’re going to rag on us for that, then what the fuck is Christopher Columbus Day? That’s a national holiday.

CA: Yeah, he killed a bunch of people.

JS: That’s a bullshit holiday.

JB: We heard this old Porter Wagoner song that was all about Indians and he was a little bit more exclusive in his choice of content.

JS: Hey, there’s the guns!

CB: They got the live chicken, too!

(At this point the Lips’ tour manager Travis walks into the artist area carrying parts of the band’s homemade feather gun as well as Popcorn, the live chicken they would later let loose on the Siren main stage.)

Did you guys buy that chicken here in New York or has he/she been touring with you?

JB: They got it local for like seven bucks! That’s like cheaper than going to the store and getting some cut-up chicken.

Is it free-range?

JB: Proooobably not.

CA: His name’s Popcorn!

JB: We’re not going to hurt it or anything. We’re just going to have some fun with it.

I’m terrified of chickens.

CA: I know, I’m really scared of them.

JB: They’re dirty fucking birds.

I was attacked by a peacock once.

CA: They scream really crazy!

JB: Those are actually turkeys. The Spanish word for peacock is “royal turkey” or something.

Are you guys playing mostly new tunes right now?

JB: We’ll play five or six songs and then a bunch of old stuff, too.

When does the new record come out?

JS: September 11.

JB: Coincidence!

A truly American record.

JS: It’s like, remember when Mariah Carey went crazy on 9/11?

JB: Yeah, after Glitter!

JS: Yeah, that’s the day her record came out and it bombed so bad she went crazy.

Did you write "Katrina" right after the hurricane hit or did you let it sit and digest until recently?

CA: We wrote right after that happened so it’s been a while now.

JB: We were on tour in Holland when it happened. I remember I got up in the morning and checked the Internet. There was a message board that said, “New Orleans Destroyed.” I was like, “WHAT?!”

How long have you had this album done?

JB: We recorded it in December. Most of the songs we never share with each other before we went into the studio because that’s normally how we do it. Then we compiled some songs while we were actually in the studio. So December or January.. it’s been a while. We’ve been anxious and waiting like a year for all this to happen.

CA: Yeah, we’ve been pretty anxious.

Then a full-blown tour in the fall?

JS: Yeah, we start the end of August.

JB: We gotta go to Sardinia and the UK. Then we got to do this full nation tour.

Why Sardinia?

JB: Because Sardinia is awesome! We’ve done a couple of tours there already and no bands ever go there. So when someone comes, they’re really appreciative. The food is incredible. The scenery, the beaches, everything.

The ladies?

JB: Yeah! They’re all really short in Sardinia. They’re all on average like 5’2 or something. By the end of the year we’re going to Brazil, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

JS: Where the fuck did we get that chicken from? We can’t do this. What if that chicken flies out into the crowd? Am I the only one that thinks this is a bad idea?

JB: Chickens are flightless birds.

CA: We’re not going to hurt the chicken. It’s just going to dance around on stage.

JS: Oh my God. This is a bad idea. Man, I’m going to go to the cops. Fuck this shit.

JB: The Black Lips and the chicken are live.

CA: We’re actually saving its life.

He has a point.

JB: Yeah! How many chickens get to go to a rock and roll show?

They do spend most of their lives in the dark.

JS: I know, exactly!

CA: This will be the highlight of this chicken’s life.

Posted: July 24, 2007
Q+A/Video: Black Lips