After conquering the Middle East last month, the Black Lips are rested and back in the States working overtime to hash out some tracks for their seventh studio album on Vice. But while the surprisingly wholesome tour changed their perception of the places they played “180 degrees,” said guitarist Cole Alexander, their goal for the follow-up to last-year’s Arabia Mountain shouldn’t stray too far from the last time: The guys are gunning for a Number 1 hit.
“Our first album was together, the second was trashy, the third was together, but we’ve been talking to Mark Ronson about working with him again, so if we do it, it might have the Arabia effect,’” Alexander told Hive, pointing to the producer’s magic touch. “But we’d do it even better because now we have better chemistry with Mark. I think we might get our first hit record off our next Mark record.”
The Lips, who board the S.S. Coachella (the innaugural Coachella Cruise) this December, had hoped Arabia would make a bigger splash than it did, given that it was their glossiest and most accessible effort to date. With Grammy-winning Ronson at the helm, the band felt certain that his knack for producing retro-styled “floor packers” was the secret sauce the foursome had been missing. But while Arabia was well-received by critics and fans alike, aside from woozy head-bopper “Modern Art,” which garnered some play in commercials, the album stayed under the radar for the most part.
“When I was hanging out with [drummer] Patrick [Carney] of the Black Keys, he told me he thought some of the songs could have been hits had they gotten the right airplay,” Alexander said. However, he remains confident that Ronson is still the right man for the job, though the producer has yet to officially sign on for the project for which the band needs to book a studio.
“I liked working with him,” said Alexander, adding that with four songwriters and singers in the band, everyone “tends to pull each other in all different directions,” making it difficult to focus and explore different styles. “We didn’t have anyone driving us to be better ourselves before,” at least not until they teamed up with Ronson, who during the Arabia sessions, wouldn’t hesitate to change up a chorus or “turn up the drums so people wanted to dance.”
Alexander assured Hive the Lips don’t plan to sever ties to their distinctive Nuggets era sound, adding, “we don’t want to make a disco song.” The flower punks just want to get more mileage from their Arabia formula — airtight pop songs with a dollop of late-60s scuzz.
“My dream has always been to be a one-hit wonder like the Butthole Surfers,” said Alexander. “They had a little fun with it. In 20 years, people can do it on the karaoke machine, and in the meantime, the band went back to playing punk shows. I want a song people can do on karaoke.”
Watch the video for “Modern Art” below: