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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Black Lips' Cole Alexander talks Chipper Jones

Cole Alexander (far right)
For quite some time, the Black Lips have made it a point to incorporate the Atlanta Braves into their music. On their last album, Arabia Mountain, the band paid ode to the team's one-time Native American mascot. They've also adopted the Braves' tomahawk chop during some of their live performances in an attempt to get their fans riled up.

It's safe to say that the hometown rockers, particularly Cole Alexander, are huge Braves fans. As Chipper Jones — one of the co-founder/guitarist's favorite players — retires at the end of this season, we caught up with him about his favorite Chipper moments, tapping into the Braves' traditions in his music and why @RealCJ10 might just be his favorite Twitter account.

What’s your first memory of Chipper Jones as a Brave?

Cole Alexander: My first memory was when I was a little kid — I collected baseball cards — I had the first round draft pick card. I think it was like on Topps, so I knew he was special, but he didn’t end up playing for a little bit after he had like an injury or something. It was just a draft pick card. It was a couple years before he became like a regular player. But I knew he was special because I could tell he was a first round draft pick. I was excited, now, because I had never seen him; he still seemed mysterious at that time. I had never seen him play, but I know he was hot stuff.

So when was the first time you saw him play or realized he was a great player?

CA: [Well] that memory was not so hot because I was pretty young for some of this stuff. For me I’ll just take the World Series because he was on that team, and I was happy when we played the Indians and won... I’m glad he got to get one ring with the team.

You guys wrote the song “Noc-A-Homa” and also have incorporated the tomahawk chop into shows. When did you all first start throwing around the ideas for including Braves-related cues into your music and shows?

We had a side band called the Spooks, and we would do the Braves’ chant because musically it’s a really contagious chant, originally it comes from the Seminoles and then when I read somewhere that when Deion Sanders, who played for the Seminoles at Florida [State], when he came up to the Braves a lot of fans from the Seminoles would come up and cheer him on and would do that chant.

So we would, and it’s kind of a good piece of music actually. So we started doing it with the Spooks. I think we were playing a Black Lips show one day, it might have been like around October one or two years ago. [The crowd] just started going into it, like from another show with a different band. Joe [Bradley] just started playing the beat, and we just started going. So now we’ll just occasionally do it, it gets the crowd really riled up.

Do you ever play the Braves’ songs on the road?

Sometimes I want to do it out of town when we’re touring. We were in Philly one day —and sometimes for our “Noc-A-Homa” song we like to have that for our intro — but it can be kind of [irritating] for die-hard Phillies fans at our show. I think, deep down, they just love that chant.

We went to a Braves-Dodgers game; we had the fortune of being in L.A. when the Braves were there. So we went to see that this year, I just remember feeling like their team didn’t have any like chants to get the crowd going... [The tomahawk chop] is almost like otherworldly in how it kind of motivates you and brings up your morale.

Have you been to any Braves games at Turner so far this year?

CA: Yeah I been to, I went to some this year. I was actually there... when we lost to the Rockies. I’ve gone to some games this year. I really want to try to get to as many games as I can in before the season stops because it’s Chipper’s last year. I want to try to work it into my schedule to go to all the games I can... for now on while we’re in town.

There’s not many, like under 10 home games left at Turner Field.

CA: Oh, really... I better get there because I already haven’t been to enough this year.

I’m not sure if you’ll still be on tour or not, but the final weekend is the series against the Mets, which is probably, if you’re here, that’s about the coolest one to go to.

CA: If things go as planned, we’ll be in the playoffs.

Hopefully. What else sticks out to you, musically, about the Braves that we haven’t covered?

Yeah, one thing I wanted to add about Chipper. From a musician’s standpoint, like I was saying about how the Braves’ chant kind of really gets their morale up. Another thing I thought was smart of Chipper was coming out to “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne. When you’re at a game and your hear that song, I know he gets fired up, but also the crowd gets fired up. When the crowd gets fired up Chipper’s been able to really feed off of [that].

I don’t want to name any names, but there’s some other players which less than impressive opening songs. On some of the songs, they’re just so whimpy that they’re demoralizing. Chipper Jones was smart to come out to music that’s going to boost his morale and motivate the crowd to get pumped for his at bats. So I think he has the best intro music, when he comes to bat of any ballplayer with “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne.

Anything else you’d like to add, perhaps, non-musically?

CA: Well I also want to add about Chipper is his Twitter account is fucking amazing! So I know a lot people thought that, “oh, he’s a good ole boy, what does he know about Twitter?” I think his Twitter account might be my favorite. He has his own language and he actually has a good sense of humor. His lingo for baseball [terms], like a home run is a “yickity,” a big home run is “mammo.” When Kris Medlen had 12 strikeouts the other day, he said 12 “punchies.” I like how he calls that one guy, [Juan] Francisco, “roadrunner” and goes “meep meep!”

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