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The Black Lips Interview

Every now and again, interview recordings get erased or damaged and files on computers get corrupted. This was the case with my Black Lips interview conducted June 16th, 2011. As it didn’t make it onto the site then due to the ever reliable Windows operating system, now that it has been recovered, here you go just under a year later.

How many bands can talk about being kicked out of India for indecency on stage, having threats issued and bribes suggested? Probably about the same amount that can lay claim to performing in Vancouver on the infamous night of the Stanley Cup Final riots (2011 version).

Having been scheduled to perform at the Commodore Ballroom, unforeseen to the band and their promoters, Vancouver made it to Game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals, playing the Boston Bruins in an extremely tense and crucial finale. As their venue was to be right in the centre of downtown Vancouver, nearby live display sites where the game was being shown to the public for free (wonder if that’ll happen again), the promoters felt it best that regardless of the Canuck’s result (victory – insane partying, loss – “potential” rioting) they were moved to the Rickshaw Theatre. A venue which Cole described as “Junkie central.”

We spoke shortly after the group had crossed the border back into the US.

MVRemix: Now that you’ve made it out of Canada are you happy to have left?

Cole Alexander: The rioting was kind of exciting. Some of it was, dare I say; retarded. But we tend to kind of get into other things.

MVRemix: Did you watch the hockey game?

Cole Alexander: We watched the third quarter while we ate Vietnamese food.

MVRemix: What was your take on what happened?

Cole Alexander: It looked like Vancouver got blown out on that last game. It looks like that goalie (Tim Thomas) did really well or something.

MVRemix: Because of the riots, how do you feel your show went as a result of that?

Cole Alexander: Well I was a little frustrated because of all these crazy riots. I was frustrated because they moved our show to the neighbourhood where all the junkies live (East Hastings at the Rickshaw Theatre). And yeah, it’s like junkie central; weird crackheads and bums. There was a little bit of rioting but it was more downtown and that’s where I wanted to be so I could see the burning cars and stuff. We did see fire smoke, ambulances and people screaming, crying… Saw some bloody people. They really chimped out.

MVRemix: Did you feel any pressure to put on a greater show because of what was happening that night?

Cole Alexander: I mean that’s just a kind of naturally occurring process. We just happened to be the perfect band to come in town on that night. Fleet Foxes might not [have] fit the vibe.

MVRemix: What was the crowd like that night in your audience?

Cole Alexander: There were crazy people. There was a girl that took off her shirt and her pants and was crowdsurfing the whole show. Naked. Girls making out… Stuff like that.

MVRemix: You’ve said your live show is a very organic thing, which artists have influenced your live performances?

Cole Alexander: JT Allen, Dead Boys, Residents, Jefferson Aeroplanes …

Cole Alexander: I had a little trouble with some, then Mark told me to try the chorus a different way. Then I improvised and it came out better than I had done before. That was kind of a rewarding experience to get pushed to go farther.

MVRemix: How do you feel the album has been received as a whole in comparison to your other albums?

Cole Alexander: So far the album is being received from what I’ve read in the reviews, whereas some of our older albums have been over reviewed – they’ve either been really good or really bad; they either love it or hate it with this album I haven’t seen one bad review. There have been some more positive, saying it’s good but not incredible but I haven’t seen any bad reviews. Commercially too, I think it stands a lot better than our other albums.

MVRemix: Now The Black Lips are a band that has toured many places that many bands haven’t done (India, the middle east etc.), are there any places you would recommend other bands visit that nobody really considers?

Cole Alexander: [ponders] I’d say Iraq.

MVRemix: Okay, and what part of Iraq?

Cole Alexander: Maybe the northern region.

MVRemix: What about the northern region appeals to you?

Cole Alexander: Well it’s a place where most people have abandoned as an important culture. So there’s a lot unknown about it, a lot to learn about… So we’d like to play there ourselves, hopefully in the coming year.

MVRemix: How did you first discover that region? Was it on a tour itinerary or…?

Cole Alexander: We’re trying to go there right now, we just wanna get out there.

MVRemix: A la “Fight Club,” “If you could fight any celebrity, who would you fight?”

Cole Alexander: [ponders] Let me think about that… [continues to ponder]

MVRemix: Maybe Mark [Ronson] because of making some choices you didn’t on the record?

Cole Alexander: I already told you I was very happy with everything on the record! [ponders more] 50 Cent.

MVRemix: And would you win?

Cole Alexander: I’d probably lose but you’ve gotta go for the top, you know? And he already tried to take out me, so that’s cool.

MVRemix: When you’re writing lyrics, I’ve read a lot of times that you come up with the music first and then write the lyrics afterwards. Are there many songs, especially on Arabia Mountain, where you went into it writing the lyrics beforehand?

Cole Alexander: “Don’t Mess Up My Baby” I had the lyrics more or less written and then we added the music separate.

MVRemix: I’ve also read that you had never planned on a fallback, so you really had to focus on making your music work. At what point did you decide to really go for it and not balance a part time job or something?

Cole Alexander: From the day I was born I… I mean I did have another day job, but that was just a pain. Really from day one I was focused.

MVRemix: Any words for your fans that will be reading this?

Cole Alexander: We love Vancouver, they’re very sadistic there. I hope that the sadists will purchase the record.

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