The Black Lips

The Black Lips

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  1. The Black Lips

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When a group is noted for its onstage vomiting, urinating, fireworks, inter-band kissing and sundry stunts involving chickens, people tend to pay attention. And that's exactly what we did when we caught up with Black Lips drummer/vocalist Joe Bradley as he and his fellow "flower-punks" celebrate the release of their fifth album Good Bad Not Evil.

According to Bradley, this year's Halloween festivity was an interactive one given he celebrated the occasion by posing as a Peeping Tom.

"I had a friend come down from New York to join us for Halloween," he explains from his home in Atlanta where the band is enjoying a rare week off. "I had a plastic police hat and I screwed some window blinds onto the top of it so that they ran down across the front of my body. I had a pair of binoculars and a draw string and so I'd look at people from behind the blinds and spray them with silly string. It was the only idea I could come up with!"

Just another day in a life of ritual madness for the Black Lips, the Georgia foursome who started out as clueless teens in 2000 but now, thanks to their uncensored mash of free noise, bastardized blues and a sense of Stoogian calamity, they've managed to manufacture a rabid cult following, particularly in Europe.

"It's starting to be more and more forgiving," says Bradley of recent UK tours. "It was kind of tough but it's our fifth trip here this year since February when we did seven shows in London one after another, just to introduce ourselves to the London market. During the year we've gone up and down to Scotland and Ireland too."

Things weren't always so rosy for the band in England. "We gave up on this country for a long time because when we first came here four years ago just for a week it basically bankrupted our tour. Any of the money we made in mainland Europe was quickly lost because we were getting paid like 15 pounds a show and nothing was provided; no food and no lodging like we got in Europe."

Earlier this year the Black Lips took it upon themselves to play an exhausting 12 shows in three days at the SxSW showcase in Austin, Texas - a hard-nosed commitment to their fans or just plain stupidity?

"We'll never do it again," vows Bradley. "Our voices were destroyed at the end, we were exhausted because there really was no time for eating or sleeping between shows and we had to do interviews as well. And SxSW is bad for parking so we basically had to park where ever we could and lug our equipment. We did house parties at 4am then shows the next day at noon - anything we could!"

The upside of that experiment was coverage in the New York Times whose roaming festival reporter couldn't get enough of the Lips' infectious antics.

"He was having such a good time with us he decided to stay from noon 'til early the next morning," laughs Bradley. "So the New York Times focused on our work ethic and how committed we are to what we're doing which was nice. My parents saw that and people all over the world saw it on the internet so I thought it was great."

For their new album Good Bad Not Evil the band has thrown all their years of experience into the pot.

"We're basically just doing everything as we're always done it," shrugs Bradley. "We haven't really changed that much in the recording process but one thing I have to say is that I think we're better musicians now and we have a little more experience on that side."

And their sense of adventure that has taken them to the world's far reaches. It's not your average group that decides Palestine should be on the touring schedule.

"We like a little danger in the mix," says Bradley. "It was interesting going to Palestine with a bunch of acoustic guitars and just setting up on the street to play to a bunch of ten year old kids and their angry fathers. Every time a little girl would be watching she'd be quickly ripped away by her father because, you know, rock n' roll is evil.

"But we met some shopkeepers and I bought a hand drum from one of them because he hadn't had a sale in two days and we wanted to put some money back into the Palestinian economy. So they invited back to the shop afterwards for mint tea and to take pictures with their kids in front of this big Palestinian flag."



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