Flower Punk Meets Flower Pop: Black Lips on Playing With Kesha and Upcoming Country Record
publish date: 2017-10-09
I’ll admit I did a double take when I first saw the announcement, weeks back, that venerable indie scruff punks Black Lips would be playing support on a string of East Coast dates with none other than newly reinvented dance-pop avatar Kesha.
But however unlikely it might seem at first blush, the pairing is an inspired one. The band from Atlanta and the singer-songwriter from Nashville are each, in their own way, hippies at heart -- not afraid to get grimy, but also free spirits forever looking for, in the words of the 2011 Black Lips single, a “new direction.”
Kesha’s Rainbow finds her casting her musical net more widely, while the Lips’ latest, Satan’s Graffiti or God’s Art (released in May of this year) is also their most ambitious to date -- a sprawler that sees them mining familiar territory (cowpunk-garage tracks abound) as well as going in more experimental places, under the aegis of producer Sean Lennon. So, of course they were up for going on the road with Kesha, a longtime friend.
“We were like, ‘Why not?” says Lips’ bassist and vocalist Jared Swilley. “I think her crowd’s pretty receptive, more so than other big artists with a built-in audience. I mean, they’re young kids, covered in glitter, so it’s kind of, they’re into whatever.”
I’m sitting in the eat-in kitchen at VICE’s Brooklyn headquarters across from Swilley and his partner in punk of the last 18 years, guitarist and vocalist Cole Alexander -- the two founded the band while in high school, and remain its core -- and it’s the afternoon following their first date on Kesha’s Rainbow tour.