Interview :: Black Lips’ Jared Swilley on ‘Underneath The Rainbow’

April 3rd 2014


With the release of their seventh studio album Underneath The Rainbow, Atlanta’s favourite sons Black Lips look to broaden their horizons – not enter into a ‘maturing process’.

Whether that be working alongside producers Tommy Brenneck (Dap Kings), Patrick Carney (The Black Keys), photographer Mick Rock (David Bowie, Queen) or even releasing their own fragrance. FBi’s Asher DeGrey spoke with bassist Jared Swilley about all the things under(neath) the rainbow – and it turns out he really doesn’t mind getting punched in the face.



Joining me over the phone for a chat, thrilled today to have Jared Swilley of Black Lips. Currently smack bang in the middle of your Spring tour, I believe it would be a little cold in Vancouver today?

We’re not there yet, but you know what it’s unseasonably cold. We’re in Yreka, California. We’re in a little ‘Mom and Pops’ restaurant – apparently it’s a big gold rush town, everyone came out west to strike their fortune and we’re right here… so we came out west to strike our fortune.

Suppose that’s why we’re speaking today, album number seven for Black Lips has been released, Underneath The Rainbow. Could you tell me what it was like working on the record?

I mean, we’ve kind of done the same process pretty much since we started. We just go in there and just work. We record the same play, record everything live. This time around we were doing up to eighteen hour days – I didn’t even tell friends that I was in New York, just wake up, studio, sleep.

Yeah – you started in New York with music director Tommy Brenneck (Dap Kings) and after that you were off to Nashville with Pat Carney (Black Keys). How was that?

It was awesome, that guy has a great ear and a true passion for making things sound cool. With Patrick we ended up working with him after a late night drunken hotel room conversation. So that just worked.

You also managed to get legendary photographer Mick Rock (Queen, David Bowie) to snap up the cover for this album, what was that like?

It was awesome. We just emailed him, we saw he had done something with our label Vice, and got one of our editors to ask… even though it was a longshot. It was mostly him throwing out lots and lots of cuss words and screaming crazy stuff at us. We were just trying not to laugh and keep going, he was pretty hands on with the photography.



There has been talk since this album has been released that this marks the beginning of the maturing process for the Black Lips, I’m not so sure about this but how do you feel about that? Do you feel this is something we could see reflected in your shows when you head back down here?

No, I think you were right on the mark. That’s just a headline filler for someone that’s lazy. I don’t think so at all – I don’t think we even think far into it, not maturing at all.

As a fan, this makes me very happy to hear. Suppose I’ll be waiting on my Black Lips fragrance, is that still in the works?

That’s in life! In action right now. We’re still developing more smells. Right now there’s this one general smell that pops out at our shows, this machine we travel with – it’s kind of like musky seederish smell. Kinda fatherly.

Taking everyone back to smell-a-vision?

Well like everyone from the military, Wall Mart, to casinos use smells. So we wanted to have this smell that evokes like a memory, a time and a place. Ours is fatherly, it’s like us saying to you “Hey Asher, don’t worry about anything today, we’re your father we’ll protect you”.

That was also with a line of denim jackets you were going to release with a song, how’s this coming along?

That’s out tomorrow, the video. I designed this jacket for this French company APRIL77, a motorcycle jacket. So then I wrote a song about the fake motorcycle gang. The jacket will come with a flexi disc with that song. The video for the song is dropping tomorrow*, I did choreography for it – my directorial view…

I can only imagine.

… I get punched in the face… didn’t hurt that bad. There’s a dance, kind of like Michael Jackson videos in there as well.

To finish, Jared, in the spirit of your new album, what do you think is ‘Underneath The Rainbow’?

I think of it like this: imagine your passed out and your friend’s really drunk and they puke on you, the puke kind of looks like a rainbow – a party trick!




*And here’s that punch-in-the-face April77 video for Jared’s swanky motorcycle jacket:


You can listen to the full interview below, if you’re an ears-over-eyes kind of person:

  • :: Interview with Jared Swilley (Black Lips)


‘Underneath The Rainbow’ by The Black Lips is out now.


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