Quick and Dirty: Black Lips

By: Andrew Horan

Quick and Dirty: Black Lips

May. 9, 2011

Atlanta garage rockers Black Lips' decision to work with famed producer Mark Ronson on their forthcoming album Arabia Mountain might have thrown fans for a loop. After all, this is a band that's best known for public urination, nudity and members of the band kissing on stage. Whereas Ronson's CV reads like a who's who of hitmakers over the last decade including Amy Winehouse, Lily Allen and Christina Aguilera!

But considering the train wreck that Winehouse has turned into in recent years plus the fact that he also helmed the boards on a couple albums by the late hip-hop wildman Ol' Dirty Bastard, his decision to work with the self-proclaimed "flower punks" is suddenly a lot less strange.

"It was just amazing working with him," bassist Jared Swilley writes in an e-mail interview. "Absolutely amazing. He dropped some knowledge on our heads and we came away from it knowing all the tricks of the trade."

The Lips said that the new album would be their "most fucked-up and successful album". This a heady claim from a band that had to flee India after guitarists Cole Alexander and Ian Saint Pe shared a kiss on stage during a tour there in 2009.

"It is absolutely incredible," Swilley raves about the new album. "The masses will eat it up. then they will digest it and shit it out and ask for more."

Anyone concerned that Ronson brought a glossy sheen to the Lips' music can rest easy, Arabia Mountain retains the raw and primal garage punk of their previous releases. Ronson isn't the only high-profile acquaintance they've has made in recent months. Sleaze pop star Ke$ha became a fan after Ronson played "Mad Dog", a track that samples one of her songs. Apparently Ms. Blah Blah Blah is interested in working with the Lips on a song. Swilley jokingly writes that they would also like to work with Prince and Michael Jackson (Too soon!) as well.

With the release of Arabia Mountain just around the corner (June 7th) the band has plans to tour extensively, including stops in Japan, bringing their music to countries and areas that normally don't have rock shows. Swilley writes that he hopes they will be allowed back into India at some point as well.

"I want to see as much of the world as possible before I die, " Swilley writes. "Rock n' Roll is a great way to do it. Traveling and adventure are our forte'."

Just don't expect to see the on-stage antics that they're (in)famous for. Though they've started to tone things down in recent years, the audience has more than taken up the slack. A recent show in Toronto I attended saw a steady stream of stage divers, bras being tossed on stage and even one brave girl groping a couple band members.

Even though they've decided to take things down a notch, Swilley writes that the Lips wouldn't expect their fans to follow suit.

"We would never tell anybody what to do, especially that. (Act wild at gigs)," he writes. "We want people to do whatever they want whenever they want. Anything goes. Always."

Video: “Modern Art“ by Black Lips

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