Cole Alexander of Black Lips

We speak to frontman of US rockers ahead of Dubai gig

What made Black Lips decide to come to the UAE?
Well, I sort of see us as punk rock explorers. Live bands tend to stick to Europe or North America, but we’re interested in other cultures. Much in the way that businessmen come to try and globalise the world
economy, we’re trying to do the same kind of thing with music, and not just any music: an alternative and sometimes more aggressive kind of music. But it’s all good fun!

Your last record, Arabia Mountain, produced by Mark Ronson, was more accessible than your previous work...
He’s renowned for making hits, so we were definitely open to making something more accessible, but at the same time he was meeting us a little in the middle and making something different for him as well. We’re kind of a scrappy band, so it was fun to work with a professional. Coincidently I heard he’s in Dubai the weekend we’re playing, which is cool.

He is! Did he contribute to Arabia Mountain’s vintage, 1960s feel?
We’ve always been somewhat of a retro band, and that was one of the reasons we called Mark Ronson. When we heard Amy Winehouse, we knew he could do something there – do something kind of retro. But we just want to keep certain aspects of retro – just the fundamentals. It’s not like we want our costumes and everything to be from the ’60s.

Have you played the Middle East before? What are your thoughts on the UAE?
We played in Palestine, in front of a mosque, and also in Turkey. One of our best friends in high school was an engineer and he lived in Dubai before moving back to the US, and he had some stories. He told me that he had an old Mercedes but he wasn’t allowed to drive the old Mercedes – he was told he had to get a newer one. I’m not sure if he was lying or not.

You caused some controversy and got in a bit of trouble when you played in India...
After some of the culture shock we got last time we played in India, we just want to play and be considerate. We don’t want to go out and try to cause problems – we just want to play music. Sometimes we’d want to cause trouble in the States and we’re kind of bad boys, but we’re going to be on our best behaviour in the UAE. We want to continue to travel and I’ll leave it at that.

Do you see a lot of differences between different crowds around the world?
Not that different, to be honest. In Japan they’re so polite, in India the kids went crazy. I wonder what kind of crowd we’ll get in Dubai. I hope they cheer!

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