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Words and video: Stephanie Breijo

Black Lips are more than the sum of their parts, which is to say they’re far more complex than their punk bruiser personas would have you believe; it’s never more apparent than in the lobby of Embassy Suites on S. Congress at the tail end of SXSW, where the four good ol’ Georgia boys sit hungry and exhausted.

It’s been a grueling week for the band. At this juncture their new album Underneath the Rainbow is soon to be released and their SXSW schedule is volleying them across town for roughly 10 shows, a Lou Reed tribute performance, and the occasional DJ set. They are tired, they are weary, they could sleep for a thousand years. That’s not to say they don’t still have fun–it is to say that here, in this lobby, they are at their most approachable.

They appear a far cry from their reputation as flower punk’s bad boys, the poster children for reckless abandon, drugs for the fuck of it and starting the occasional brawl. This is, I’ll sheepishly admit, what I’d bought into and what I expect to find, though I learn quickly that what began as art rock–their early shows, the stuff of legend with tales of penile guitar solos and pissing in each other’s mouths–are of a different era for Black Lips, which along the way morphed into a career marked by commercial and critical success, complete with near-rabid fandom they’ve well earned, every step.

The Black Lips of today are sharp, witty and innovative; they pore through new and classic records, they design clothing and they experiment in scent, the next iteration of the Black Lips live experience. They may or may not have joined the Church of Scientology. (They haven’t.) We sat down over Austin’s famous breakfast tacos to talk recording, upgrading your seat, aging in punk, and how to find the best new-to-you music.

Catch Black Lips Tuesday, April 15 at Black Cat in D.C. and Thursday, April 17 at Webster Hall in NYC.