Black Lips’ Cole Alexander Talks About New Album + ‘Spooking’ People On Halloween
Atlanta's southern punk outfit the Black Lips have been getting plenty of attention as of late, not only for their solid new record, 'Underneath the Rainbow,' but also for their antics and general tomfoolery -- like recently crashing a Gene Simmons interview, calling for the Kiss Army to stand down. The fun doesn't stop there as their live performances are almost always filled with some unconventional onstage shenanigans.
'Underneath the Rainbow' was created under the guidance of multiple producers -- including the Black Keys' Patrick Carney. If you haven't given it a spin yet, it's available now via Vice Records, the band's longtime label.
Black Lips' frontman, Cole Alexander, recently took our call on his way down to New Orleans for a gig, and opened up about everything from the new record's more modern approach to what's in store for this year's Halloween festivities.
What did the band do differently on 'Underneath the Rainbow' than past albums?
We used to always record via analog tape. We used Pro Tools this time which we hadn't really messed with before and it enabled us to just be more flexible and work faster. I liked it more than I thought I would -- recording in the digital format rather than just tape.
Does that have anything to do with the fact that you utilized different producers, like the Black Keys' Patrick Carney?
Yeah, Patrick Carney is the one that was using Pro Tools at a studio in Nashville called Blackbird -- and Tommy [Brenneck] was using tape which is what we usually use; it's our sort of old-school way of doing it. We had the same mixture that kind of helped gel all the songs together, but they definitely have a little different of a feel. It wasn't so alienated, though, that they can't go together.
What's your craziest story from when you were getting yourself into trouble back in high school?
Um, they kicked me out of school and I didn't want to get kicked out so I trashed the school, started throwing trash cans around the school, smoking in the halls, spilling the milk all over the teacher's lounge. That was kind of bad. They had to call the police to escort me off of the campus. That was around 1999, I should have been a senior but I didn't have the credits so I was in 11th grade.
Does the southern twinge in your music have anything to do with you being from Atlanta, or does it strictly come from musical influences?
Being from there doesn't hurt. There's a lot of bands like the Rolling Stones who were influenced by country and stuff, but yeah, being from there doesn't hurt. Since we're from the south, you can probably hear it more.
Around Halloween time you guys usually perform under the alias the Spooks. Are the Spooks going to "spook" anyone this year?
I'm kind of pissed off because we're booking Norwich, England on Halloween and they don't really celebrate Halloween in England like we do in America. They don't really care about it like we do. It pisses me off because they invented it, it's an old pagan holiday, they just forgot their roots. Norwich is supposed to be a spooky old town; I'm not happy. I'm going to try and scare people, they're not really ready for it over there. Joan Rivers made a joke once, "Kids get apples when they go trick or treating and they complain because they wanted candy instead. Well, just go ahead and eat the razor then if you don't like the apple."
Do you think your crazy live antics have calmed down a bit since your early days?
Not really. We never did that kind of stuff every night anyways, sometimes crazy s--- happens, sometimes we just play the music. We don't have a formula for it, it just kind of happens. So we haven't calmed down, we're just more sort of spontaneous about it.
You seem like a hat guy, and probably have a lot of them. Which one is your favorite?
I have a cool Harley-Davidson hat I got on the first tour from the '90s that I like to wear, like a biker hat that's kind of cool. I have a snakeskin hat, that's cool I guess. I don't know, I don't really have a favorite.
What's the one album we'd be surprised to find in your music collection?
Hmmm, maybe Igor Stravinsky? I don' know if that's too surprising, but yeah, I like all those sort of classical composers.
The Black Lips are currently touring North America through the beginning of October. Check out their upcoming shows below: