INTERVIEW

“If Black Lips were a sport they’d probably be rat hunting. Or bobbing for rattlers. Or wolf wrestling. Well, they wouldn’t be any proper sport, because these kids are far more likely to have spent their time wooing their teachers and pawning their milk teeth to bother with PE. But the music industry shits in […]

“If Black Lips were a sport they’d probably be rat hunting. Or bobbing for rattlers. Or wolf wrestling. Well, they wouldn’t be any proper sport, because these kids are far more likely to have spent their time wooing their teachers and pawning their milk teeth to bother with PE. But the music industry shits in everybody’s trumpet from time to time (excepting some weird repressed bunch of Headcotes acolytes who rape conceptual artists with three stockist chords or something), and so tonight Black Lips are at a hipster ping-pong party in Shoreditch Fire Station. Yeah, such a thing does exist and providing Fred Perry will pay for it, post-trendies you’d love to kiss will giggle with a bat and ball. Perhaps it’s a strange setting for a farewell gig to London, but even punks have to eat, right?

As far as adopted trendsetting Londoners go (and you guys all know you love them), there aint no one who can touch Black Lips right now. Ever since these four scumbag garage kids from Atlanta got involved with Vice Records over here, every beautiful art youth on the breadline has dragged themselves up from their Birthday Party records and into Black Lips flawless world of dirt and sweaty blue-collar scum-rock.
“”In England they love us,”” grins guitarist Ian through the thick gold grills that sit on his gums, making him look like the scrawniest rap superstar since Snoop’s bulimia.

“”We got America locked down but we’re trying to secure England as we speak. This is our fourth time here y’know and every time it gets better””
“”The first time we came out here we were paying for it and it wasn’t so pleasant. That was like five or six years ago and we just lost all our money and no one came to see us. The American dollar is piss compared to the English pound, so for like all our money we got like ¬£25,”” laughs singer Cole.
Yes, Cole. Fuck Cole is cool. For a start he’s called Cole. He’s also damn pretty and with his mega moustache he looks like some kid who’s grown facial hair so he can get into the army and go off and shoot some Nazi’s. Plus he drinks piss onstage.

“”Like, maybe we did that one time dude,”” he says. “”Everyone brings up the piss thing, now I can’t even remember if it’s true. It’s just something that gets talked all the way into myth. If a crowd go nuts though we’ll do it too.””

Later on tonight Black Lips will break out their set in this East London corporate fortress: this emerald castle of counter culture cool, sucking the youth in with promise of, er, ping-pong glory. The Lips will play and they’ll fucking smash it. They’ll get all the kids who were playing table tennis throughout Kid Acne’s bullshit college rap show to crowd the stage. They’ll get the peeps running things to fuck off the security by letting the show go on for an extra hour. They’ll be fucking amazing. But it’ll still be the worst show of the tour. These guys have high standards. In fact, Black Lips, have you ever really had a bad show in England? Seriously, because there’s nothing but sickening levels of love for you lot everywhere we go.

“”Yeah!”” Bassist Jared can remember one. “”That one time the euro cup was going on and England lost that match and everybody just hated us””

“”Oh yeah,”” Cole remembers now, “”you guys lost to Portugal and we had to play right after and everyone was totally pissed.””

“”We got all our shit nicked in Manchester once”” says Jared. “In London you tend to find that it’s the hipsters who love you, up north it’s less that and the shows are quite crazy.”” Ah, that old chestnut.
“”In America though, you can be massive in one part and no-one’s ever heard of you anywhere else,”” says Cole. “”We got New York locked down, they love us there. We don’t get too much shit from anyone anywhere.””

“”Well, there are the purest punks who hate us,” admits drummer Joe. “They call us sell outs, that bullshit, but you’ve got to move forward.”
It’s an amazing thing about this band that to the mainstream they appear to be so completely involved with a classic aesthetic that they practically define it, yet in garage circles they’re sometimes considered dangerous revisionists. Their flower
punk (their term) stitches 60’s psych to garage punk and stumbles about like Arthur Lee meth’d up and carrying a gun.

“”I get pissed off with that purest shit,”” says Cole. “”It’s a bit like that Beth Ditto shit, her making a fuss about some kid with a confederate flag. That shit is just someone finding a reason to be angry, it’s not a real problem.””

Black Lips fifth album, ‘Good Bad, Not Evil’, is the only record that everyone’s freaking out about at the moment, even if the band don’t think it’s all that (“”It’s ok,”” Cole will say later when I tell him how much I love it. “”The next one will be better””). The day before writing this I spent half an hour on the BBC Asian Network, trying to convince the presenter that it was the best album of the year. Apparently when they played leadoff single ‘Katrina’ to the nation’s Asian, er, network you could hear me singing along in the background, ruining it for everyone.

This album is a good boy from bad stock, a habitual criminal with a heart of gold who was never given a chance by his no-horse town because his dad is a drunk and his mum smokes in church. He’s Black Lips’ soul; he’s got the heart of a poet, the temper of a piss-head and he reeks like a mop-bucket of pig blood and thick sweat. He’s coming up your drive with a handful of posies; he’s wiping his boots on your floor mat; he’s calling you sir and ma’am; he’s complimenting your new car and giving you a piece of charming blue collar advice about the carburetor. He’s not so bad after all, if only someone would just give him a chance‚” He’s taking your smiling daughter to the movies and promises to have her back by nine. He’s fucking her in the back of his van and wiping his dick on her dress. He’s a fucking legend. He’s the funniest scumbag mothafucker in this shit hole town. He’s gonna get out one day and your daughter’s going to follow him.

That’s the album anyway, and the band? They’re the kind of kids who make herpes look better than a nice hat. If Tarantino didn’t suck these days, this would be his house band. Singer Cole you know about (the pretty one who could be a sailor), toothy guitarist Ian looks like a cannibal who’s mugged Flavor Flav or Jaws at his graduation. Drummer Joe is a maniac who looks like he’s about to loose the plot at every moment, like a chilled out scarecrow that sometimes sees red and paints the fields with farmer’s blood. And Jared, the bassist, is never out of his shorts. Party shorts. You know someone’s a fucking wizard when they’re wearing tiny little party shorts. They’re pretty much the coolest gang in town, even if they’re not very ping-pong.

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