Five years ago, I heard about a band called Black Lips from my cousins down in Atlanta. I love my cousins, but the Confederate flags hanging on the walls and the deep bass lines of Creed emanating from their dorm rooms prevented me from checking the band out when I came back home. But finally, two years ago, while working at mtvU, I heard that they were playing at the Noise Pop festival in San Francisco and flew out there to interview them.
Upon doing pre-interview research, all I found were references to “incessant puking,” “spitting” and some strange antics including peeing in each other’s mouths. How can anything else about the band compete with stark images of bodily functions spraying an innocent crowd? The next day, I went to the concert anyway. OK, I didn’t stand in the first row … or the second or third. Fine, I made mtvU get me VIP tickets so I’d be in the balcony. Whatever. Point is, they blew me away.
The Black Lips redefine both Southern rock and add a new kind of lo-fi sound to a crowded and, in some ways, homogenous punk genre. For those of us who long for what punk used to be (the Clash, Sex Pistols and even the Dead Kennedys) and are honestly frightened by what is considered punk today (not naming names here — Must. Keep. Job.), the Black Lips give us hope. Not only do they clearly draw influence from the beloved punk bands of eras past, but they inform nouveau punk fans that there is something out there that defies the notion that emo/ powerpop/ bands-with-long-names-about-math-class are not all there is out there if you want something subversive. What’s more, music-industry pundits out there like Pitchfork and Idolator have continued to give the boys rave reviews, despite their growing popularity.
On February 24, the Black Lips will release their newest LP, 200 Million Thousand, on Vice Records. Their ever-present combination of innovation and creativity along with indisputably catchy hooks will no doubt be present on their new record. I assume their popularity will widen and thicken — with the rumored insanity of their live-show antics, perhaps they might even chart. Well, OK, probably not. But they should.