Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
You have to be ready, willing and able to experience a hailstorm when the Black Lips are showing up. They get banned from places. They ruin shit whenever it seems to agree with them. They pull their dicks out of their pants for all to see whether anyone wants to see them or not. They urinate where they're not supposed to - and not always in a shrouded or secluded corner. They're like obnoxious monkeys when they want to be - no governor on their controls and the manual disengagement lever has been broken off like an old broom handle. The Black Lips may as well be GWAR in iconoclastic image and rumor, but real and with the kind of kinetic, cathartic and creative garage rock powers that aren't at all that prevalent these days. And it has to be a hailstorm because you'll be dented when it's all through. You'll have been altered, whether that means you took some of the splash back from that piss hitting the floor or you were force-fed an eyeful of dude-on-dude French kissing (which easily happens from time to time when the Lips get all that liquor inside their skinny-ass Atlanta bodies). It could mean all of that as well as swimming in an hour's worth of forceful and melodic songs that have an aftertaste that delivers a swift punch to the scrotum but still manages to give you desirous fondling and touches as well. It's feels almost as if we're describing some unbelievable comic book characters with demented proclivities pulling their strings, people that R. Crumb might have created, a raunchy yet free of any artifice group of unsavory characters that could be friends or foes depending on the different ways that you might cut things. "200 Million Thousand," the band's latest record, is another fine example of a young band still shaping a sound that isn't at all as jarring and occasionally uncouth as its stage antics. It's rock and roll music that seems to send us skidding back to the kind of unprocessed and uncomplicated sort of punk rock that contained no additives, no flashing lights or facades. The Black Lips - Cole Alexander, Jared Swilley, Ian Saint Pe and Joe Bradley - find ways to implant dynamite and cattle prods into every second of their songs, setting them off and turning the killer juice on simultaneously to produce a general feeling that's inescapably dangerous and exhilarating. It goes beyond just calling the music sweaty and daring and instead forces you to listen even closer to the wails and whoops that Alexander tears off and you feel as if - just by association - that you're living on the same exact drugs that the Lips are abusing at the time. It's abusive and charming music all at once, making it absolutely proper to be looking longingly up at the cosmos while someone's peeing on you, never recoiling in revulsion, just taking it and understanding that it's all part of the deal. When it's all over, you're as hoarse, beaten, soiled and violated as the band itself is and that makes you part of the twisted and degenerate family that the Lips keep.
Black Lips Official Site