"It's my way of making things seem not as bad as they are" – hmv.com talks to Black Lips
As they release their new album Underneath The Rainbow today (March 17th), we chatted to Atlanta hellraisers Black Lips' bassist Jared Swilley about working with The Black Keys' drummer Patrick Carney, touring the world and how he channelled his frustrations from spending a few days in jail last year into a song.
When did you finish the record?
"A little while ago, we've actually just had four months of being at home, so we're getting a bit stir crazy, I'm ready to get back out there."
How long did the record take to make? You guys don't tend to take your time…
"It actually took a while, not because we were in the studio for a long time, but because things were a bit broken up. Our first session was in New York and then the other sessions were with Patrick (Carney) from the Black Keys, he was on tour, we were on tour, so we had to work around that."
How did you get end up working together? Who approached who?
"We approached each other actually. We were supposed to do the record with Mark Ronson, but he had to push it back by a considerable amount of time as his schedule is so intense and we really wanted to go forward with it."
"Anyway we were staying in this hotel down in Mexico a week later, and The Black Keys were there too. We were hanging out and I mentioned it to him and he said 'You know I'd love to try producing some stuff with you', so we did."
What was he like to work with compared to Mark Ronson?
"He wanted us to do our own thing, he let us work through things and he'd only interject if he felt really strongly about something. They're both kind of similar in the way they do things. Producers are a mix between a temporary fifth member and your football coach, they need to keep track of all the chaos."
Did you record the album live?
"We've always recorded live, except vocals, we all record in the same room, it would be weird if we recorded split up."
Where was most of this record written? Was it done on tour?
"Just wherever we were really. We have this practise space that we use once or twice a year, we never write there. Most of this was written on the road."
Can you trace songs back to particular places?
"Some. Some are autobiographical, the second song on the record 'Smiling' is particularly like that. It's about me going to jail last year and my legal problems so it takes me right back to that."
Is it strange singing about that every night know?
"It's my dealing with it, dealing with the repercussions I could be facing in terms of my immigration status, it helps me cope with it. It was a terrible thing to go through, so this was way I get something out of it, it's my way of making things seem not as bad as they are."
What kind of record is it lyrically?
"My songs are pretty personal, bits from my life, Cole's (Alexander, guitar/vocals) lyrics tend to be a bit more surreal, but it all fits together."
So is the rest of 2014 all mapped out for you guys?
"Yeah, pretty much the entire year is full of touring. A bunch of festivals, all across Europe, Australia, we can't wait man."
Are there any places left to tour for you guys? Anywhere you've not been?
"A lot. We just got back from Bogota, Colmubia, it was amazing. South America, we've done bits, but I want to focus on it this time. We always do well in Mexico, the kids love rock n'roll there. I want to focus on South East Asia too, we played Bangkok last year and it was great. Malaysia, Indonesia, China, you know there's even a Black Lips cover band in Indonesia, we'll have to get them on the bill with us."