World-roving, Atlanta-raised Black Lips talked to Gozamos about their upcoming album, their musical interests and their philosophy. Black Lips will be playing at the Logan Square Auditorium (2539 N. Kedzie), Friday, April 22 at 7pm. Get tickets here. Their new album Arabia Mountain comes out June 7 on Vice Records.
Gozamos: So I’ve been hearing that Arabia Mountain is the best Black Lips album ever. Can you start out by telling us about your musical project and explain how this album fits into that idea, and if you think this is your best album so far?
Ian: Well I’ll say that songs, albums that’s like children. Some are better, you know what I mean? I can’t pick one. You’re asking me to make a favorite. I love them all. They’re different. This one now might just happen to be a doctor, you know what I mean? Like when it grows up. The last album will be a public service worker,which is fine, maybe a congressman, and it didn’t do that well for us. The critics didn’t like the last record, but this new album, Arabia Mountain, I do think it’s going to be a doctor or a lawyer. It’s going to be nice. It’s good. The quality is there, half of it is produced by us, like we’ve done with all of our records, but the other half is done by Mark Ronson, who if you ask me, if you own a Grammy, you can be my friend. Really cool guy. We wanted to work with him because of Amy Winehouse, we like old music, but showcase it in a modern age, and I think he was able to do that with Amy Winehouse so we thought let’s give him a try. and yeah, I think it still sounds like us. You can play in the club now, like sometimes when we’d show up at clubs, there’s the Black Lips here, so they would put on our music, and we’d just kindda hide, cuz when our songs come on people would always clear the dance floor. You know we play lo-fi garage. there’s still garage drum beats hit harder, and you can shake the pole in the club. It’s good.
So do you think this can potentially appeal to a wider audience?
In the new album you have a song called “Modern Art.” What were you trying to say with this song?
Ian: “Modern Art” that was one of the Mark Ronson songs, and if you ask me, it still sounds like us. People were afraid that it would change us, make us soft, but he’s cool. He let us do our own thing. He understands that we’re a gang and you don’t want to fuck with that.
Well like Jared you’d have to ask him. He wrote that, but I can tell you about it. It was about us doing drugs at the Dali museum in Spain. So it’s kind us appreciating art through a whole another degree. Like Cole said it sounded like a double negative, cuz Dali works are very surreal, but when you’re on drugs it almost makes it normal. It was a very cool experience. It’s not about appreciating art; it’s not about hating art, it’s about being one with art, I guess. And just kindda having fun in an art museum.
So what about “Go Out and Get It” you guys taped that on the Bruise Cruise is that right? So, first of all, how was the cruise, and how was the recording of the video?
Ian: Yeah, “Go Out and Get It” was produced by the guitar player for Deer Hunter. Well that one wasn’t hard at all. That was just a couple of friends of ours with video cameras, and we went on a 3 day cruise. To and from the Bahamas, starting from Miami. We went from Miami to Bahamas, played a show in the Bahamas and then Bahamas back to Miami. That was on the return trip back to Miami. So we had that a lot of good people, some of which are in that video. Cruises are just full debauchery, it’s just nothing but drinking and eating very excessively. There was jut tons of food, tons of drinking with like 500 rock bands. So it was cool. There was a lot of footage that is not in that video. I stormed into the dinning room one night poured wine all over myself and then jumped on top of the table. Started rocking out on the guitar. Security had to come and pull me off, and I was hoping that that would make the video, cuz I was putting myself out there. I wanted to rock out on the table with everybody eating their food. All that made it was us playing around on the beach and us playing on the deck of the boat, which was cool.
Can you tell us about how you got into music, and how the Black Lips formed?
Ian: Well, how I got into music was just loving it, but I just got into 60s; when I was 15, 16 I remember hearing “You Really Got Me” by The Kinks. You know that song? I don’t know, my friends were getting into punk rock around that time and I love punk rock, but I thought that was more punk punk, like that sixties music. So I just fell in love with 60s music and that’s pretty much always been my thing. As far as the Black Lips though it’s hard to talk about it cuz they started the band without me. I will say that we had a band together called The Renegades, and we were playing and doing crazy shit, we’ve definitely been doing crazy shit forever even before the Black Lips. I don’t know. I don’t want to get into all of that. So again, we had a band called The Renegades and we stopped playing. I went back to New Orleans and then they got a guy named Dan to replace me, and then they switched the names to the Black Lips and he ended up dying. So then our friend Jack started playing and then he quit and then I got back in the band. So, I don’t know. Just a bunch of kids who like music.
G: The Black Lips have played for over ten years now, and you have numerous collaborations with other bands. What do you see your role with the new bands coming up?
Ian: Don’t give up! I mean how bad to you want it? I want it real bad. You know I think anything is possible, just go out there just like our song, go out and get it. I mean, but for real, I mean the bands that are coming up you know we’re not weekend warriors, are you? If you really want this you can make it happen. This is your job, it’s a lifestyle it’s a. you gotta do something and I just chose not to be cool and work at a coffee shop and you know play my music on the side, I want to live my music. I wanna just give up everything and get out there. I will say this to the kids, if you have any desire at all to do something, artistically please do, but do it when you’re young because it only gets harder as you get older. You start to wanting things and having to get jobs and girlfriends or boyfriends, you know, start you know needing health insurance, which I still don’t have, but I’d say when you’re younger do it then, because school will always be there for your, your dream won’t it can’t, it gets suppressed with bullshit of yesterday, today and tomorrow. Life’s hard if you want something. So, my brother is a nuclear engineer we were straight a students, it was cool, but I just, me and him just took separate paths and he had a lot, actually I’m not bad myself these days, and he told me there’s one thing you have and I don’t. I said what’s that? You have your dream and I said yeah, you’re right. I do. I get to travel all around the world and meet people and play rock and roll. that’s all I ever wanted to do growing up and yeah, it worked out. I tell that to the mothers, to the dads, don’t persecute the dream that’s all they got. yeah, go out and get it.
So, what’s next for the Black Lips? What can we expect from you guys?
Ian: oh well right now we are in the first week of our three months tour that wraps up July 23 then we go to Japan, then we tour America again, then we tour Europe again, and then we do a middle eastern tour. We’re pretty much on tour for the rest of the year. But yeah the highlight of this tour is going back to Japan and saying what’s up to all those people after the tsunami events and we’re doing a tour in the Middle East. We’re going to Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt. Yeah, everybody deserves to have a fun time. I want to be that for them. But yeah, that’s what we’re doing: staying on the road. It’s a lifestyle, for everybody, but it still works for me.