Hey Y'all. This is ex-Black Lips champion Jack. Swilley dropped me a line asking me to pen some of my most shamefully sublime memories from my tenure with the group. I know that I must live it up because I will never live it down. So, here goes....
I'll begin with the tall tale of my first tour with them boys. I was living in New York City when it all began. The ultimate ex-Black Lips champion, not to mention one of my best buddies, Ben Eberbaugh (r.i.p.), had just passed on in a tragic car crash. I returned to Atlanta to pay my respects and, while I was there, the dudes asked me to come on tour with them. In my mournful state it was an easy decision. I quit my NYC job and took off on the road with the Black Lips. From the outset I knew I had made the most irresponsible decision of my young life.
Ben's funeral had wrapped up only a couple of days prior to the scheduled beginning of the tour. Every bad kid in Atlanta turned out for it. It was just like the scene in "Suburbia" where all the punk kids fuck up the funeral of the dead girl, except there was about three times that many kids and none of the "parents" got pissed at us. It was actually quite touching.
The sadness of the whole affair was made particularly poignant by the fact that the Black Lips had just signed a record deal with Bomp!. I'm sure all y'all know about it, but that fact made it really heart breaking. We (the Black Lips and all us teenage buddies from Dunwoody) had always been way into Bomp! and all that type of shit, and it hurt everybody’s feelings to lose Ben right on the cusp of all that.
In spite of their sadness, the Black Lips decided to do what they thought "Old Gentle Ben" would want them to do and tour as a three-piece. Three days after the Old Boy's funeral they were scheduled to drive out for Chicago with the Carbonas. We got a huge party going at Die SlaughterHaus and a bunch of people came over to see us off. After a few cases of Busch, we set out on tour.
That night of driving would prove to be one of the most harrowing of my continuously mobile young life. It began at about 11 p.m. Atlanta time with everyone, except the perpetually responsible Joe Bradley, completely wasted. We were driving northwest toward Chicago. By the time we had reached Nashville the freeway was frozen solid. The van was slipping and wiggling as the tires tried uselessly to grab onto the ice. We kept morale up by inventing bawdy campfire versions of the entire Hank Williams canon. Jared had taken a leak out of one of the van windows and the pee created a sheet of yellow ice splattered in a wondrous, wind-swept pattern along the side of the van.
In northern Kentucky the drivers had to stop and rest their eyes. We stopped in some hillbilly burg called London. It must have been about two in the morning. We all piled out of the vans (Black Lips, Carbonas, Bobby Eubangi, Kevin Lee, Allen Suh, Alix Brown, myself) and started slipping and busting our asses on the icy parking lot.
Somehow, some of the guys got to talking to the late night Arby’s employees and told them that we were in bands. Well, these hicks were pretty impressed. I guess they thought that we were famous or something. I think it was Dave Rahn (Carbonas drummer) who worked out a swap of a couple of 7-inches for, like, 20 Arby’s sandwiches. We were all quite stoked on this deal as our beer was wearing off and it was high time we glutted ourselves with partial-meat product of some sort or another.
After the group gorging we returned to the vans and set out again on our treacherous journey. The snow was still driving hard into the windshield and visibility was down to about 18 inches, but we pressed on. I don’t know who was driving the Carbonas van, but Joe was getting the job done like a seasoned pro. I think a bit of Adderall might have been giving him the assistance that he needed.
As we struggled to find even filthier words to replace Hank’s lyrics we all began to notice that Jared was acting like a Down’s syndrome kid on a sugar rush. I mean, even more than usual. He was screaming and yelling and stumbling all over the van. He kept trying to sing along, but he sounded like his tongue was stapled to the roof of his mouth.
Jared’s behavior soon started pissing Joe Bradley off quite a bit. He was already having enough trouble seeing the road without a mongoloid mangling the English language at 55 decibels in his ear. So they started arguing.
Joe was like, “What the fuck is wrong with you, Jared.”
Jared responded, “You just tank um floom!”
Exchanges of this type proceeded for way, way too long. After a while, when everyone was fed up with trying to figure out what the fuck WAS wrong with Jared, we decided that some reefer might be just the thing to knock out his lights, so we lit a large joint.
After smoking the joint Jared normalized a little bit. It was then that he revealed to us what had so distorted his mind. Apparently, the backwater Arby’s boys had invited him into he back of the place to “do a line.” Jared assumed, as most urban dwellers would, that these humperdinks were offering him some coke. He was to tragically find out that he was wrong. This was a one truck stop, Kentucky shit-hole town and these cud-chewers were snorting METH.
So, as we proceeded to Chicago at around thirty-five miles per hour over the ice-bound interstate, Jared was twitching and fast-tempo foot tapping the entire way. The obscene honky-tonk rolled on and I think we may have stopped for more beer at one point. Eventually we reached Chicago safely and were greeted by friends new and old. The Black Lips and Carbonas played a few shows with the Tyrades and Chicago’s love affair with them was consummated.
The tour continued, many more shows were played and much more poison consumed. In the next few weeks every member of our entourage would have a chance to prove what he or she was made of as we sloughed our way through the jungles and mires of America. In Ohio, Kevin Lee extinguished the flames on the back of a burning truck driver while barrels of some caustic chemical exploded all around him. In New York, Alberto of Wowsville saw the Black Lips for the first time and is rumored to have exclaimed, “This is the future.” When we all returned to Atlanta I joined the band and the adventure proceeded.
More to come……