Black Lips

Wisdom Before Age

Music Features Black Lips
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Serving up “food that pleases” since 1929,

Atlanta’s Majestic Diner feels like Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks come to life, only with hung-over hipsters taking the place of Hopper’s fedora-clad ’40s cats. The diner has seen a lot over the years, so it’s fitting that The Black Lips are here, sitting in a booth on a balmy summer afternoon. For a bunch of guys in their early 20s, they’ve seen a lot, too.

In fact, bassist/vocalist Jared Swilley and drummer/vocalist Joe Bradley are grizzled vets in their city’s vibrant rock ’n’ roll scene. They shake their heads in wonder at the prospect. “I feel a lot older than 23,” Swilley says. “We’ve been touring since Joe and I were 16. This year it’s going to be over 10 months [on the road] probably, but I used to work here at The Majestic. I’m just happy I don’t have to come here every day anymore.”

Instead, Swilley and Bradley, along with guitarist/vocalist Cole Alexander and guitarist Ian St. Pe, travel the world playing their self-described “flower punk,” a joyous mix of garage rock, vocal harmonies and other more fuzztastic influences. Fittingly, they recorded their last album, the raucous Los Valientes del Mundo Nuevo, live in Tijuana, Mexico.

Returning home to record a new studio effort, Good Bad Not Evil, they somehow tamed a baker’s dozen of their latest tracks, tricking them onto wax and capturing the finest representation of their sound to date. Highlights include hilarious call-and-response rocker “Bad Kids” and also “Katrina,” which treats the infamous hurricane like a brutally unforgiving girlfriend. Polishing the band’s usual savage inclinations ever so slightly, Good Bad Not Evil is the sound of these ATLien knuckleheads maturing.

“When I think about our early tours and recording sessions, it’s a different world,” Swilley says. “That was six, seven years ago. I had no idea it could get to this point. … It would be scary to be one of those bands that get picked up, first thing, by a major. All this money gets thrown at them, and that album is make-or-break or you’re in debt for the rest of your life. Luckily, we have a fallback plan. We still manage ourselves and we know a lot of other people who have been through this before, so we’re smart about everything.”