"I think we're done with it," Black Lips bassist Jared Swilley says of his band's new album, which they've spent much of the second half of this year working on. "I went to an Atlanta studio on Monday, and I think I finished it. We came up with two last-minute songs, and we'd done all the parts – I just had to add some things." The band is aiming to release it in early 2014.
The band will debut some of those new songs, and screen their Middle East tour film, Kids Like You & Me, on a brief run of southern and East Coast tour dates that kicks off this weekend in Charlotte, N.C.
The Lips first started recording the new material at New York's Dunham Studio in June with Budos Band's Tom Brenneck serving as a recording engineer of sorts. "On [2011's] Arabia Mountain, he came in and worked on our drum tones in the first few days," Swilley says. "Those guys did the Amy Winehouse records and a bunch of other stuff with [Arabia producer] Mark Ronson. And we really liked [Brenneck's] studio setup and the way he records things."
They did seven songs, "give or take," in those New York sessions. While the band isn't totally sure which ones will make the cut, they recorded an additional nine or 10 tracks over two sessions in July and August with Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney in Nashville.
"We were friends with him before, so we already had a good relationship," Swilley says. "Both the studios he took us to up there were really awesome. We got a lot of good stuff done."
Carney, who first met the Black Lips after they played a show together in Mexico City, took on more of a traditional producer role than Brenneck for the forthcoming record. Additionally, some of the Daptone guys put horns on a few songs, and Mastodon guitarist Brent Hinds contributed pedal steel and some guitars, including a lead guitar part he wrote for one song.
"Bradford [Cox of Deerhunter] was supposed to come, but he never showed up," Swilley says. "He kept saying he was gonna come by, but he never did. He blew it."
Swilley says there will likely be 15 songs on the final version, but they haven't settled on a title or artwork yet. As for the "club bangers and southern rock anthems" the band promised earlier in the year, that was mostly a joke. Mostly. "There's definitely some southern rock [on the album]," Swilley says. "We always have some country and southern rock influences. I don't know about club bangers. There's a few songs you could actually play in a club, and I think people would dance and stuff."
Mostly, though, the new Black Lips album finds the band refining the slightly slicker sound they presented on 2011's Arabia Mountain. "It sounds like a Black Lips album through and through," Swilley says. "It's a continuation, in that same vein, so everyone who liked the last album will like this one."