Twenty-five years ago, The Flaming Lips burst out of Oklahoma City with deafening noise and ambition to spare. Today, it is one of rock’s most perplexing and productive bands in history.
Front man Wayne Coyne (at right, with the broken cross) and multi-instrumentalist Michael Ivins (at left, in the shades) may not have foreseen the future when they first banged heads and guitars in Norman, especially after hooking up with drummer Steven Drozd in 1991. But it’s hard to peer into the past and ignore how The Flaming Lips helped evolve music into the new millennium. Early indies like Oh My Gawd!!! and In a Priest-Driven Ambulance redefined noise and rock, while major-label releases like Hit to the Death in the Future Head, Transmissions From the Satellite Heart and Clouds Taste Metallic piled pop, psychedelia and more onto that already loud, weird foundation.
By the time the Lips got to sound experiments like Zaireeka, The Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, it was merging music and media in refreshing, new ways. Today, The Flaming Lips still light the way forward, literally: On Saturday, it joins its die-hard followers and late adopters in Oklahoma City for the pryomaniac Halloween party March of 1,000 Skeletons. Halloween happens to be the band’s second favorite holiday; its first can be found in the recent screenings of the Flaming Lips’ cinematic romp Christmas On Mars. Coyne directed, stars and also built the sets in what he calls The Flaming Lips factory. Most people call it his backyard.
It’s that curious mixture of humility and pretension that has marked The Flaming Lips over its long, storied career, which has swelled like a man-size balloon, which Coyne can be found inside at the band’s live shows. We caught up by phone with the always amiable and recently injured Coyne, who praised Christmas On Mars, Eraserhead, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii and much more through the haze of his painkillers.
Wired.com: So I heard you injured yourself.
Wayne Coyne: Yeah, it sucks. It happened when we were down in Mexico, and I wish I could tell you that I got in a fight with some Hell’s Angels in Guadalajara. But I think I just slept on my neck wrong. I will leave it up to you to spread a lie for me. I think you should go with the brawl. Say that it was between the Hell’s Angels and Nine Inch Nails, and I stepped into to break it up.
Wired.com: Are you dosed up?
Wayne Coyne: I’m on quite a few drugs, but nothing too exciting. Just a bunch of muscle relaxers, steroids and some badass painkillers. I haven’t tripped out too much yet. I don’t like tripping out.
Source: Wired Magazine