SEPTEMBER 8, 2004
HERE FOR THE BEER: The Black Lungs
Despite being well known as one of the more conservative areas in the nation, strange things are sometimes uncovered lurking in Greenville's dark alleyways and basements. Consider the case of the Black Lungs. Although primarily a quartet (Jason Graydon, guitar/vocals; Matt Morgan, guitar/drums; Russ Morin, bass; Kris Hyatt, drums/guitar/vocals), the group's total membership is currently in double digits, complete with backup singers and other unique entertainment. In Graydon's words, the band exists "just for fun," with no ambitions of record deals or touring. But the opening of their Sit 'n' Spin Studio and overlapping relationship with the Lackies (Morgan and Hyatt are members of that group as well) prove that there's more to them than just cracking their fans -and themselves- up. I caught them at the studio (also the Lackies and Black Lungs rehearsal space), where they are getting ready for their upcoming show (September 18 at Gottrocks). We had a few beers, hung out and talked about drinking, hangovers, monkeys and recording sessions.
How did all this get started?
Kris: The love of beer and fellowship.
Jason:And lots of recording at Matt's house... I think it started with Better than Nothin' studios.
Matt:Yeah. Better than Nothin', my house studio. Me and him (Jason) started messing around years ago. We've been friends since...
Jason:(interrupting) Since we were like 19 or 20.
Matt:So we started goofing around with writing some songs and stuff
Jason:That was back when I was married.
Matt:Yeah, so he had to sneak out.
Jason:So I had to sneak out and come over and record in his basement, in a rocking chair, with dogs barkin'.
Matt:And then, once the band came around...
Jason:It was lots of hangovers, too. We'd just sit around and write stuff till we laughed till we cried.
Matt:It was just so goofy. I remember we wrote songs back to back; we were crying and laughing.
Jason:Just in case it was really bad we all dressed up funny so we could play it off.
Kris:I saw it and said, "I can't believe this shit is happening in Greenville!" It was hilarious. It was great. The whole duration of the show, there is drinking involved.
Jason:I don't remember playing a Black Lungs show.
Kris:Who are the Black Lungs anyway?
Jason:Am I in that band?
Kris:Even in the middle of the songs, when I'm using both hands, Jason helps me out with the drinking.
Jason:I have to feed Kris beer. He gets really nervous. He has a social anxiety disorder.
Matt:He puts a couple of pills in the beer too, to help that out.
Matt:Kris wakes up three days later after a Black Lungs show. "Wait! What's going on?!"
Jason:We like to drink some beer.
Matt:It's harmless fun. Except for the monkeys. They quite often get attacked, for some reason. Seriously, people attack the monkeys. One time we were at a show and some dude was running full speed and sickled the monkey! And then the monkey slid from the bar at Gottrock's almost out the door of that side room.
How did the record store evolve into the studio?
Jason:The studio started from the same thing.
Matt:We were sitting around the kitchen table at about 3 am. He was like, "Well, I don't know, I guess I'm gonna close the record shop." And I was like "Why don't we open a studio?" He goes "Okay." That was it.
Jason:That's pretty much all there was to it.
Matt:I was like, "Man, it won't cost more than 2000 dollars."
Jason:That's what he said. And then, many dollar signs later... (laughs). It happened about that fast and that easy, and the next thing you know, we're pumpin' out the hits! Then Matt came in here and drank copious amounts of beer, threw up two by fours and electrical outlets.
Jason:We had a ton of songs that sucked, with drum machines and other garbage. "El Camino," one of the first songs we recorded, was initially recorded in the back of the record store. We recorded a few bands back here.
Matt:The Sharpest Knives. Their first CD was recorded in the back of Sit 'n' Spin record shop.
Jason:It was very lo-fi, to say the least.
Matt:It sounds good. You wouldn't think it was recorded with, like, four microphones in the back of a record shop.
Who else are you recording?
Matt:Sharpest Knives are doing their full release here. True Blues just came in and recorded a full album. They got it done in a weekend. Obviously, the Lackies and Black Lungs. We're going to do one for a girl named Fontaine. She's in LA. Rodney Stokes' album, which I've been working on for a couple of years now, covered one of her songs. She heard it, and she's flying out from LA to do her album here.
The Black Lungs
Sat., Sept. 18