My colleagues in Black Lipstick are dead to reason.

Playing rock music can be like a bad, made-for-TV movie about addiction. At first it's just for kicks--the afflicted think they can quit any time. Ten years later, their prospects have dwindled and their few remaining friends worry about their health and sanity. While the victims may pass for normal, upstanding citizens, inside they harbor a putrid and shameful secret: they spend every waking moment obsessing about Rock & Roll. My "friends" in Black Lipstick have this problem.

For the last 5-10 years, guitarists Travis Higdon and Phillip Niemeyer have spent a majority of their free time and disposable income buying records and playing in bands like The Kiss Offs, The 1-4-5s, The Bad Shit Fuckers, The Night Vandals, Roar ! Lion and now Black Lipstick, with the addition of the lovely Beth Nottingham on drums and Steve Garcia on bass.

What's truly pathetic about these "friends" of mine is that they persist in believing that Rock & Roll can change a life for the better, if even for three minutes. For them, that three-minute "high" is worth suffering the disapproval of their families, the emptying of their bank accounts and the loss of stable jobs.

Despite rock's much-heralded obsolescence, Black Lipstick still insists that it can be evocative, inspiring, fun and life-affirming. They believe they can conjure some rejuvenating power by cooing "I don't care about shit, except for getting off and getting lit," in a flat monotone over a repetitive two-chord riff stolen from the Modern Lovers (who stole it from the Velvet Underground). They believe guitars are still cool, and that it's not the instrument that matters, but the heart of those who play it (oh, please!). Like The Fall, they believe that if you repeat a discordant riff long enough, it will become catchy (yeah, like that worked for The Fall). They assert that you don't have to sing well as long as you sing about something that matters (does singing about how cool you are qualify for "lyrics that matter?"). Like Brian Eno, they think the listener doesn't need a catchy chorus repeated through the song. Like Unrest, they think sarcasm can be sincere and heartfelt and that people care about obscure references to their record collections. Like Television, they maintain that guitar solos rule (especially arrhythmic, atonal solos?). And they like rock piano?!?!

Like I said, these guys are dead to reason.

Black Lipstick - The Four Kingdoms of Black Lipstick
"The Four Kingdoms of Black Lipstick" EP
(Peek-A-Boo Records, 2001)

© 2001 Peek-A-Boo Records