Black Lips perform at Webster Hall in NYC on April 17, at Union Transfer in Philly on April 18 and The Paradise in Boston on April 19.
Black Lips guitarist Cole Alexander wants his band’s shows to stink. Not like he wants the band to perform poorly, but he wants to provide a scented experience for fans.
“We want to attack all senses, not just sight and hearing,” Alexander says between bouts of mild road rage. Yes, he’s answering questions while driving. “We wanted to make a memorable performance.”
What kinds of aromas?
“We have a song called ‘Dumpster Dive,’” he says of the group’s olfactory concept, which is in the works. “I want to have the smell of trash come out during that song. And we have a song called ‘Drugs,’ I want the smell of marijuana and narcotics to permeate the air during the concert.”
Alexander says it will be some time yet before showgoers can anticipate such a symphony of scent at a Black Lips show, but he says they've been working on the concept for a long time. With some help from Ramdane Touhami of France’s Cire Trudon, the oldest wax factory in the world and the provider of candles to the French proletariat back in the day, the Black Lips may soon see — er, smell — their own signature scent.
“He’s a professional smell-man, basically,” says Alexander. “He’s the one who advised us about what to do.”
According to Alexander, the people at Cire Trudon worked with NASA on making an approximation of the smell of the moon before putting it into a candle. We were unable to confirm this claim.
“It’s a scent,” says Alexander. “I eventually want to get that scent in our set. But first I’m gonna write a song about the moon.”
Developing fragrances is only one new initiative for the Black Lips. A partnership with French clothiers April 77 recently produced a traditionally badass, signature Black Lips denim vest, on sale now and on view in their latest video for “Nightmare Field.”
The jean vest features a skull-and-pot-leaf logo that looks like it could belong on any biker’s back, but it fits right in with the band’s rough-and-tumble aesthetic. This is a group, after all, who were kicked out of a club in their home state of Georgia for lighting a drum set on fire.
Unpredictability is part of their essence.
A pot of gold?
Though the Black Lips’ latest album, “Underneath the Rainbow” — titled as such as an ode to gay leprechauns, Alexander explains — was met with praise when it suddenly appeared available to stream online two weeks before its release date, it was not a move made by the band.
“That’s something my label did, and they didn’t even tell me about it,” he says. “I don’t really care for it, personally.”
He says if people just listen to the album and realize they don’t like it enough to buy it, it’s not the same as buying, listening and not liking it.
“I remember when I was little, I’d buy a CD and if I didn’t like it, it was devastating,” he says. “I’d have to wait, like, two weeks for the grass to grow and I could mow the lawn and I could get enough for a CD. And if it sucked, it was just devastating. If they don’t like it, I want them to just be devastated.”