Jared Swilley (second from Left)

Anyone who loves garage rock and punk will no doubt have a soft spot for Black Lips. They knock out great album after great album of pure garage greatness. They are famed for their wild live shows and for all you film fans out there, can be heard on the soundtrack to (500) Days of Summer. I recently had a Q&A with bassist Jared Swilley about the new album Underneath The Rainbow among other things. You can read my review here.

Q. How do you all approach the making of an album? Do you each write your own songs and present them to the others to record, or does it all come together live in the studio?
A. We all write our own songs or pieces of songs and bring them in to the studio when its time to record. It’s usually mostly done by the time we start recording
Q. Having listened to all of your albums, it’s clear that, production wise, they have evolved over time. Was that a conscious decision, as a band, to try a new sound?
A. At first we just recorded wherever we could afford to record it or with whoever would do it for free. Now we kind of can choose where we want to do it. We never try and mess with the sound too much.
Q. Similarly, I’ve read (I’m from England so haven’t had a chance to see you live) that your stage show isn’t quite as ‘out there’ as it famously was. Are the Black Lips now tamed?!
A. Our shows have never really been tame. It’s usually a journalist trying to fit us in to his or her narrative of what they think or want our story to be.
Q. The latest album, Underneath The Rainbow, is part-produced by The Black Keys’ Patrick Carney. Are you a fan of his band? I hear some of his influence in the track “Dandelion Dust” for instance.
A. Patrick definitely put his touch on dandelion dust. I like what those guys have been doing all of these years.
Q. Other than Patrick, you also tried, in vain, to get Phil Spector to produce. That would have been something. Did he get back to you?
A. I don’t think that would have been a good idea. He’s in prison for killing a woman, so it would not have been very tasteful. I think the last good record he produced was end of the century by The Ramones.
Q. Arabia Mountain was probably your most well received album to date. Did that influence your vision when going into the studio to make the new album? You weren’t tempted to use Mark Ronson’s services again?
A. Mark was an option for this record, but our schedules never lined up properly. I would definitely like to work with him though. We like to use producers now.
Q. Who have been your musical influences, both in the early days and now?
A. They have always been basically the same. Link Wray, The Germs, Bo Diddley, The Ramones, Gene Vincent, The Stones…
Q. Do you think there may be another Almighty Defender’s record? I loved that album!
A. Yes, I think we’ll do some more recordings. We’re still all great friends. It’s just hard to get us all in the same city at the same time
Q. I first heard you in the OST to (500) Days of Summer, with the song “Bad Kids”. Did having a song on the soundtrack of a well regarded film have any impact on the band, in terms of record sales and new fans?
A. I have no idea. It couldn’t have hurt sales.
Q. I hope to watch the “Kid’s Like You and Me” documentary soon. How was touring the Middle East?
A. It was a really amazing experience and I feel very lucky to have gotten that opportunity. It wasn’t as crazy as it sounds. Everyone was really nice and we met some great folks.
Q. This also being a movies site, have you seen any decent movies lately?
A. I actually haven’t watched a movie in a pretty long time. I am really looking forward to the new Star Wars movies.

About thomasjford

I like Movies and Music and most things popular culture.


  1. Great review, Tom! Keep them coming. 🙂

  2. Awesome! I love the Black Lips!!!

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