Flaming Lips Drummer Says Wayne Coyne Fired Him For Criticizing The Governor’s Daughter’s Native American Headdress
Wayne Coyne likes to pal around with other Oklahoma celebs — here he is hanging out with Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant — and one of those pals is Christina Fallin, the daughter of Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin. The younger Fallin drew a lot of criticism in March for posting a photo of herself wearing a Native American headdress on Instagram (now deleted but pictured above). Fallin caused even more of a stir at the Norman Music Festival last weekend when protestors showed up to her band Pink Pony’s set and she mocked them by again donning the headdress and doing a Native American dance. Sometime between the two incidents, in apparent solidarity with Fallin, Coyne posted a photo of his girlfriend, a roadie, Phantogram’s Sarah Barthel, and a dog wearing the headdress:
One of Fallin’s loudest critics was Kliph Scurlock, the drummer for the Flaming Lips, and it looks like that criticism caused Coyne to dismiss him from the band after 12 years. Scurlock parted ways from the band under mysterious circumstances several weeks ago, but has now explained the situation in a written statement to Indian Country Today: “I was fired for telling Christina to go fuck herself after her lame-ass ‘apology’ when people got upset at her stupid headdress photo. That happened in mid-March. I wasn’t anywhere around during the performance [at Norman Music Festival] the other night.”
So essentially Scurlock is saying he was fired from the Flaming Lips for standing up against racism. It’s Coyne’s band, and he has the right to hire and fire whomever he pleases, but if this is the hill he wants to die on, that sucks. Scurlock also tweeted his support for Native Americans:
@FrancesMFDanger I will always stand by your side. And the greater the ignorance, the louder my mouth will get, rock bands be damned.
— Kliph Scurlock (@KliphScurlock) April 29, 2014
UPDATE: Scurlock has issued a lengthy statement about his dismissal to Pitchfork. Here is an excerpt:
I have kept quiet about the circumstances surrounding Wayne Coyne firing me from The Flaming Lips thus far because I figured those who know and love me would know the truth and it probably wouldn’t be of much importance to anyone else. But it seems it’s quite an interesting topic to some, so for those of you who do care, here’s the story.
Some time in early March, the daughter of the Governor of Oklahoma, Christina Fallin, posted a photo of herself on Facebook wearing a full headdress with the caption, “Appropriate Culturation”, which I found disgusting. (For those who don’t know, a headdress is a symbol of respect which is earned. Each feather in a headdress is representative of a good deed or a fierce battle won. It is, in my opinion, not something to be worn the same way you would wear a t-shirt or a hat or whatever.) A number of people called her out for doing it and several tried explaining to her what the headdress signified, in case she had posted that photo out of ignorance rather than malice. (I’m on the side that thinks she knew exactly what she was doing – hence the caption “Appropriate Culturation”.) She responded with a very insincere non-apology, which I also found disgusting. I have several Native American friends who were very hurt by her combination of actions and I am nothing if not protective of my loved ones. I am also a big proponent of Native rights and one of the greatest tragedies in the history of humankind has been the treatment of the Natives by the white settlers, which continues to this day. So I responded by telling her to go fuck herself on a mutual friend’s Facebook page she was commenting on and posted something on my own page condemning her actions. In my upset over my friends’ upset, I went a little far and included some jabs at her mom. Her mother is someone whose politics I couldn’t possibly be on a more opposite side of and I think she has done many detrimental things to the good people of Oklahoma. So I deleted it because her mom, as vile of a human as I think she is, had nothing to do with it. I intended to post a reworded, on topic comment, but got busy with an Electric Würms song we were working on and didn’t get to it.
Some weeks go by and Wayne was apparently out when he ran into Christina, who proceeded to complain to Wayne. Wayne got upset and texted me at 12:13 a.m. on March 19 to ask me what was up. I explained to him what had happened and he responded, “You lost your mind dude…. that is some petty, sad, hater bullshit. You love to talk shit…. Like a punk coward… ” I stopped responding to him at that point. (By the way, all texts are quoted verbatim, with spelling and punctuation as they were sent to me.)
The following day, I texted him about something personal involving neither of us and we had what I thought was a friendly enough text conversation. I have become used to his lightning quick temper and the horrible things he’ll say in the heat of being upset (which is something I see a bit of in myself and am working to get rid of), but he usually cools off as quickly as he gets upset and things move on. For example, at what ended up being my last Flaming Lips practice, I made an error in judgement and and answered a text from George regarding liner notes for the “7 Skies H3″ CD while one of the other guys used the restroom. Wayne got upset and yelled and threatened to throw my phone and me along with it the next time I had my phone out during practice. 5 minutes later, we had run through the song and everything was fine and Wayne and I resumed our conversation about said liner notes. So, like I said, after we had the friendly conversation about our friend, I figured everything had blown over and gone back to “normal”. Unfortunately, it hadn’t.
At 9:54 p.m., he texted me again pressing the headdress photo issue. In my desire to have this done and over with, I apologized and said I wouldn’t do it again. He responded, “… Ha ha… You so full of shit … You’re a fucking coward !! Go stick up for your Indian friends if its so important to you !!” It devolved from there, with him later texting, “I think….. I am gonna make it so your ‘beliefs’ no longer have any association with the Flaming Lips ..” More name calling followed with him finally sending me a text at 3:49 a.m. on March 20 that said I was fired. Along the way, he called me a “nazi punk coward Internet bully” and tried to claim that he was “sadly unaware” that I have taken a few jabs at Dave Grohl on Twitter, when he actually was very aware and, in fact, set me up to do several of them. (He also once tried to get me to talk shit on the Black Keys on Twitter when he got mad because they supposedly dissed Led Zeppelin in a Rolling Stone article (I didn’t read it), but I pretended to do it and never hit send.) He also brought up a tweet I had sent on January 1st saying, “I think Aspen has replaced Las Vegas as my least favorite place on Earth.” I tried explaining to him that I was far from the only person in our organization to post a pissy tweet while in the midst of a bad travel day, but I could tell he wasn’t looking for an actual debate. Whatever Christina had said to him had made up his mind and he was looking for justification. I do almost find humor in the irony that the guy who is known worldwide for talking shit in the press on Beck, Bob Dylan, Erykah Badu, the Arcade Fire, etc. was suddenly so concerned at what I might be saying to my 3000 “friends” on Facebook and 4000 followers on Twitter, but that’s beside the point; like I said, I know he was just looking for some kind of justification because it would make him look bad to kick out someone who had stuck by his side through thick and thin for 12 years (15 if you count the time since I first became a roadie for the band) for calling out a spoiled brat for doing something insensitive and stupid.
So, yeah, I was fired.
Read the rest of the statement at Pitchfork.
UPDATE 2: Flaming Lips members Wayne Coyne and Steven Drodz have responded on Twitter. Drodz says the band and Scurlock “parted ways because of the usual band musical differences” and the situation is being blown out of proportion, while Coyne posted a quote about betrayal and the label from a Kombucha bottle with a quote about love from Buddha. Here are the tweets:
This Lips/Kliph bullshit has gone too far. We parted ways because of the usual band musical differences. The rest has been blown way out
— Steven Drozd (@stevendrozd) May 2, 2014
— Wayne Coyne (@waynecoyne) May 2, 2014
— Wayne Coyne (@waynecoyne) May 2, 2014