This morning, out of nowhere, Flaming Lips ringleader Wayne Coyne tore the Arcade Fire a new asshole, accusing the beloved Canadian indie rockers of being pompous pricks who treat everybody — crew, fans, Oklahoman psych-pop bands — like shit. Blogging on his band’s site, Win Butler expresses disbelief about the situation. He only met Wayne once years ago, so WTF? Then he drags Beck into it. The full statement…

Via arcadefire.com:

I can’t believe I am actually writing to defend my band’s “real” personality. I wish I could not respond to something like this, but the reality is, is that people will be asking me questions for the next 5 years. I also fear that people will base their opinion of our band on the media quotes of a guy who doesn’t even know us.

The only time we have ever shared a stage with the Flaming Lips was our last show on the Funeral tour at a festival in Las Vegas (over 3 years ago)…we arrived the morning of the show from Brazil, slept all day and awoke into some kind of surreal Vegas jet-lag dream in which we were playing after the Flaming Lips…how strange…I was really excited to meet Wayne. Clouds Taste Metallic was a huge record for me, and growing up in the weirdness of Houston, I always imagined Oklahoma City to be in the same universe. I was really nervous to meet him and I felt a little weird that we were playing after them. We traded a little hello, but he was a hard guy to get a read on. Steven Drodz was super nice, and I felt good after talking to him…

So…I am not sure Wayne is the best judge (based on seeing us play at a couple of festivals) if we are righteous, kind and goodhearted people like The Edge and Justin Timberlake (who I am sure he knows intimately as well). I can’t imagine a reason why we would have been pompous towards The Flaming Lips, a band we have always loved, on that particular night, all those years ago. Unless I was way more jet-lagged then I remember, I hope I was less of a “Prick” then telling Rollingstone that a bunch of people I don’t know at all are really a bunch of assholes.
As a closing note, the main point that I am offended by in this whole thing is for Wayne to say we treat our audience like shit…

At times like these I am comforted by knowing that even though Wayne slammed Beck all those years ago, he seems like a really nice guy to me. I guess everyone has a different idea of what being pompous means.


Re: Beck, Win’s referring to a 2003 Guardian interview:

“Beck had issues… don’t print anything bad – actually, I don’t care … I just don’t get it when the slightest thing goes wrong before a gig and the artist is, like, fuck this. … Honey, it was totally disappointing. It’s a total devastation to know that he’s not a relaxed Californian stoner. When you hear his songs, you think he must really have some tender feelings, but then you find out it’s a made-up thing.”

You can read that here. In it he also describes the Verve as atrocious and egotistical and calls Richard Ashcroft a “pompous fool.” Noticing a pattern here.

Comments (159)
  1. David  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0


    I remember those Beck comments, and I remember his main point in that interview was that the artist’s personality was irrelevant to the quality of the music. I could get behind that, but I was bummed that he said Beck was such a loser(okay, but seriously, I don’t want to imagine him that way). This makes me feel better, if only because there is something spectacularly uncool about a person in Coyne’s position using his reputation to tarnish those of other people, especially when (as Win pointed out) he’s probably not in the best position to judge.

    Stay cool, Win!

  2. Only >70 comments? Come on, y’all! The other post’s already got like 150! Btw, Coyne trashes Radiohead in a 2003 Guardian article: “The Radiohead thing – we’re famous but we don’t want to be famous – is odd. We love playing music but we’re too weird to play music.”. Let’s build on this talking point!

  3. Look how quickly we all forgot about Green Day.

  4. Anyone else’s eyes hurt after reading that white-on-black text?

  5. Steve  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    Sigh. Rockstars are so boring.

  6. LEAVE HER ALONE! You are lucky she even performed for you BASTARDS!

  7. Helen Lovejoy  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    Won’t someone please think of the children!

  8. Grobian  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    Nonentity vs Has-Been, Round Two: The Nonentity Strikes Back.

    Who gives a shit?

  9. Grobian  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    Somebody put both these self-obsessed little bitches in a bag and throw ‘em in a pond…

  10. joe shmoe  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    I can totally see The Arcade Fire being a bunch of pompous jerks. Kinda like The Tallest Man From Earth.

  11. Elvis  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    Wayne is my Facebook friend. Does Win have a Facebook page. No. What an asshole.

  12. at this point in his career i would think Wayne would be above getting into petty fights like this

  13. Bakes  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    Someone needs to do a mash-up of “Fight Test” and “Ocean of Noise” NOW!!!!!!!!

  14. Rick  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0


    The Arcade Fire would be nothing without their 9.6 rating from P4k’s ‘Funeral’ review and ever since Win has thought that he’s god gift. Well he’s not. Neon Bible sucked. The Lips have been inovating music for decades and Wayne Coyne is one of the nicest guys in showbusiness so if he calls bullshit on someone, there’s a reason for it. I’m sure everyone else in the Arcade Fire is cool, but FUCK WIN BUTLER. He’s a self righteous, pompous piece of shit. end of story.

    • Willie  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

      And, when it comes to pompous, no one does it quite like the ‘fork. So, if that’s the basis on which we’re hating people, why does pretty much everyone concede P4k is the “best” source for reviews? We should be tearing them a new asshole.

      I mean, you can say U2′s new album is weak without using the words “panacea”, “pastiche” and “pinache”. Yet, they’re all in there, screaming out between the lines “I’m an authority on this album because I’m using the ‘P’ section of my dictionary”. Frankly, I’m surprised the reviewer didn’t drop at least one “pompous” in there, considering the group.

      I’m not defending U2 either, so don’t minus me on that angle. Just saying that, if popular belief is “you’re pompous” = “we hate you”, then “most of us” = “hypocrites”.

  15. Burg  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    Cheap Hip Hop rival tactics to drum up business… they are both bastards.

    I saw them hanging out togheter just last night in midtown Manhattan like a couple of professional wrestlers (rivals) throwing back beers after a long night of rolling around together.

    We are the true assholes for even forming opinions about this trash.

    I’ve emailed Kayne about this and am awaiting his reply for guidance.

  16. monake  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    i like wayne

  17. i think weezy is going through a midlife crisis and win may be a biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit of a dick. but, who isn’t. i recall their rollingstone interview about a year or 2 or 3 ago where in the middle of a conversation with the writer, win stopped the cab and told him to get out – just because. but whatever, as long as he stays away from scientology and keeps making bitchin shit, i think we can all agree its totally awesome.

  18. Wouldn’t it be better to listen to good music instead?

  19. Wayne's World  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    Nice to see this is still going almost 24 hours later. To the commenter who called this all ‘very Us Weekly’ -you see, the thing is, blogs like traffic. This stuff, as you might have noticed, generates traffic.
    Still Team Wayne BTW. I love Win’s feigned shock at having to defend himself against aspersions cast by a guy he briefly met three years ago when after all, he was jet lagged!
    Please. That statement from Win is not classy, nor measured, as some have said. It’s full of nasty prep school-bred jabs at Coyne. This just in, Win: Wayne is not the only person who has ever found you pompous. Were that the case, it could be dismissed as the rantings of a bat shit ol Okie, Unfortunately this is an ongoing impression you have left with people. And your statement reinforces it. You have an amazing band, though.

    • did you make your name wayne’s world to reflect your position on this disagreement?
      or do you like lil wayne?
      or do you like the movies (pt.1 and 2?)

  20. Wayne Coyne  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    this is stupid

  21. I don’t know what to make of this, I have so much respect for both Win and Wayne.

    I am certain that Richard Ashcroft is indeed a pompous prick, however. Good call Wayne.

  22. Bruce Cockburn  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    Win for the loss!

  23. pseudo  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    I’m sure that this has already been said, but: call me old fashioned, but I judge my musicians based on their music, not whether they kiss babies and give donations to Amnesty. Plenty of my favourite writers were renowned for being abusive, sadistic and self-loathing drunks; I don’t let that alter my perception of them, because I really only have hearsay to go on. Just as Coyne could easily have gotten it wrong about Butler and his gang, having only met them a handful of times, it’s easy to imagine that Nice Guy Extraordinaire Wayne Coyne also has a dark side. I know and know of a lot of publicly nice people who reserve all of their abuse for those closest to them, and vice versa. How much is it really possible to know about somebody based on their public persona? Not much. Who gives a shit?

  24. saget  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    It is funny for Win to assume that Wayne has no association with Justin Timberlake. To be fair Justin Timberlake played guitar with the flaming lips when they were on top of the pops

  25. Enrique  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    This entire “Beef” is just hilarious. I never thought I’d see the day an Indie had to pick sides lol.

  26. Jerry Seinfeld  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    who are these people?

  27. i’m of the opinion that if your “indie” rock peers were Sonic Youth, Pavement, and Nirvana at any point in your career and you are still around, then you have earned the right to say whatever the hell you want.

    Soft Bulletin > Funeral.

  28. kb  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    like everything in life… the truth is probably in between the two extremes. wins probably less of a dick then wayne says he is, and more of a prick then he seems in his “cordial” response.

    On a side note: pitchforks unabashed knob slobbing of arcade fire makes me sick. they called wins response “a straightforward, sincere piece of writing” ugh, vomit.

  29. Remember when Win Bulter stole that guys basketball (http://stereogum.com/archives/arcade-fire-stole-my-basketball_005529.html) I think he just might be a dick, haha. But I’ve also heard some great stories from people who go to see them. If they were such dicks to the fans, they wouldn’t go through the trouble of putting sooo much effort into every song of every show.

  30. be nice  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    Pseudo — here’s what you can know about someone based on how they treat people publicy: HOW THEY TREAT PEOPLE PUBLICLY. And that matters. Just like how they treat people in private. While it doesn’t affect my opinion of their art, necessarily, who they are as a person in fact matters more. Either you believe that is important or you don’t.

  31. barry  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    Why is it all centered? Is he in Freshman Poetry? Do I have to snap when he’s done?

  32. skip  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    whats up with all the arcade fire haters?!! i respect both bands, but really this should never have started in the first place.

  33. Spidey  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    Win has more good grace in his little finger than Wayne has in his whole being!

  34. Peter Heke  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    I’ve never been inside their heads, but having seen them both, and seen how they are, I can safely say Wayne Coyne is not a good person. Win might be, we’ll see what happens next time.

  35. super nice  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    that guardian article refers to a Verve encounter in 1994, when Ashcroft was probably at the height of his complete prick powers. so it’s a fair call.

  36. Both these bands fucking suck.I am from Oklahoma and Wayne seems to show up to shake alot of touring bands’(HEALTH, Black Mountain, and The Liars) hands and always shows up right after the local bands(who don’t include any of his cousins and nephews and shit) play. I see the dude riding his bike everywhere dressed in suits, said alot of onery shit to him whilst swilling some merlot at varied art show, and seen the dude hangin out with kids as some sort of Big Bro program taking less fortunate tykes out to get them mad toys at the mall. Dude is a cunt and dude is nice. We alls gots a couple of sides. Bands talking shit on other bands always fuckin destroys though. Look it up. I am going to go back to listening to Naked Raygun, Jill Scott, and Spiritualized for the rest of the day.

  37. this here giraffe   |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    10 years from now who’s really going to care about the Arcade Fire? These two bands are in no way NEAR comparable. Wayne has always been known to say exactly how he feels about people, politics, ideas…etc. so why is this such a big deal?

  38. This just proves how absolutely ridiculous the whole of indie rock is getting. Ain’t no more soul.

  39. i hope if wayne tears someone else its kings of leon

  40. Wayne FTW. Wait.

  41. wayne can tear me a new asshole any day ; )

  42. Nemo  |   Posted on Mar 6th, 2009 0

    who is wayne coyne ? nothing !


    The other day, my friend said to me that he couldn’t listen to an artist if he thought they were a douchebag.

    I laughed uproariously for about a minute.

    Unfortunately he was serious.

    I think that people share his habit, though, and so this is what I say. I understand that listening to a person’s music seems like you have a personal connection with them, and so in that sense of course it seems strange to want to listen to somebody who has, say, hit somebody once, or exposed their nipple on live TV (whatever makes you frown).

    but the truth is, I don’t think the artist(or indeed the human) exists that is permanently nice on all sides. Yes, I know you hear interviews where Artist A sez “Oh Artist B is just the nicest, sweetest person, I love touring with them”. But on a long enough time scale, everybody’s kindness rate drops to zero.

    Sometimes you’re at the end of a 18-month tour and some keen reporter doesn’t know what “I am tired and would like to go to sleep” means.

    Sometimes you just had an awful fight with your bassist just before you go on stage, and then you end up yelling at him in the middle of the set while the world watches.

    Just think about your requirements, is what I’m saying. If you’re asking that every artist, no matter how tired or angry or sad or human, should always be bursting with love and smiles for every reporter, every audience, every cameraphone, and on top of that you’re asking that they keep it real? Start your own band. And not to mention, if I was Arcade Fire I would frankly feel betrayed because this is _another_artist_ that is saying this, somebody who should know better, somebody who’s probably been through the same (and who knows, we’ll probably see some interview in the next month where somebody blasts Wayne Coyne).

    so, to sum up:

    I am trying to stick with Team Sanity. I will still listen to both bands’ music, just as I would be friends with somebody who was rude to somebody once. But I am somewhat annoyed at Wayne Coyne for prattling about things that A} he takes out of context and B} he probably knows the context of. and in the end, what’s his point?

  44. caligulaa  |   Posted on Mar 6th, 2009 0

    dude, it’s ARCADE FIRE. of COURSE they’re dickheads.

  45. kate  |   Posted on Mar 6th, 2009 0

    I think most famous people, even at the indie rock level, are probably sociopaths or assholes on some level, or just very very lucky. Win Butler isn’t Canadian, he’s a Texan who went to boarding school. Wikipedia! I have no trouble believing he’s a pompous dick. Wayne Coyne, on the other hand, is a middle-class dude from OK who’s been climbing his way slowly to success for like 25 years. He doesn’t strike me as an asshole. But I don’t know either of them, so it’s all conjecture.

    Point being, indie rock is just as showbizzy as mainstream showbiz, and I think it’s great that anybody would call anyone else out publicly on their prima donna bullshit. Maybe we’ll all start to see how all our elitism doesn’t make indie whatever better than say, Puddle Of Mudd, or something. Maybe I’m not making myself very clear.

    • Funny that you mention Puddle of Mudd. I don’t know personally, but from a friend who worked at a festival they played I heard that they were really nice. Terrible band, though.

      Also, I worked at a record store once, and Godsmack sent us a box of chocolates for whatever reason. I think they’d gotten high with our owner when they passed through on tour or something like that. Nice guys, terrible musicians.

      Not that being nice makes you a terrible artist. Some people are jerks and some people aren’t. We can’t all be Paul Newman.

      • FlimFlam  |   Posted on Mar 9th, 2009 0

        True Story: I went to see Breaking Benjamin (remember them?) in high school with a girl. They weren’t very good. That night I ended up talking to the singer and he was REALLY nice. We started talking about songwriting and whatnot. He wanted to hear my band’s demo and asked us to hang out, but I didn’t have it on me and I needed to get back.

        Anyway, the singer was so nice I decided to buy the album, BUT I LOST MY WALLET! Get this, he helped me looke for it! he was getting people’s attention and asking around. Nice guy! So then a few months later the drum tech mailed it to me with my money still inside! He said he’d forgottent to mail it and the dude asked him about it months after the fact.

        I bought the album after I got that wallet back. They are not my style of music, but the singer was REALLY cool.

  46. Dave w  |   Posted on Mar 6th, 2009 0

    hahaha, well…OK i know this looks bad for wayne, n i am NOT a huge Lips fan, at all, but i DO like the guy, and the fact that he likes to keep it real with shit like this, i LIKE THAT, cause god knows if I were doing interviews Tomorrow, i’d be breaking a TON of eggs, i rip on a LOT of people.

    So Ashcroft, i AM a huge Ashcroft/verve fan, he’s got an amazing voice and is a great basic/soulful songwriter, i’ll always love him, BUT… the idea he might have somewhat of a god complex doesnt really faze me, OR surprise me. I ‘believe’ it, but i DONT CARE. Same with Beck. Haha, just LOOK at Beck, you just KNOW he’s a weird guy, not in a bad way im sure but…NOT a shock at all.

    BUT AGAIN, i like the fact that Wayne actually gives his honest opinions on poeple, i really really do. Cause ya know, i think people DONT do it enough. Dave Grohl for one never said ONE word to rip on Durst or Kid Rock during the big mtv rap rock hayday of the early 2000s, and that really pissed me off. I can see not wanting to ruffled feathers, but jesus Dave, you’re ON mtv, you have a voice, a platform, USE IT you pussy. At fucking least Manson made the Starfuckers video w/Reznor to show THEIR displeasure with that fucked up scene.

  47. This whole situation is depressing. I absolutely hate it when a bands personal bullshit gets in the way of enjoying their music. I really like Beck, The Arcade Fire and the Flaming Lips, but all this sniping (mainly from Coyne) makes it hard to focus on their work.

  48. Steve  |   Posted on Mar 8th, 2009 0

    The musicians we listen to are not actually our friends. This is news to you guys? Artists’ personalities are only distantly related to the art they create. If I were a journalist I wouldn’t be asking Wayne Coyne what he thought about other performers as people. I’d ask him when he’s going to stop wasting his time on glorified vanity projects like Xmas on Mars and coasting on the admittedly great but ten year old Soft Bulletin. Enough victory lap tours. And I agree that Win Butler should have kept his mouth shut and risen above the teen drama. I like Arcade Fire’s records too, but there aren’t enough of them yet to know whether all this matters.

    Both of you guys get back to work!

    • “…coasting on the admittedly great but ten year old Soft Bulletin. Enough victory lap tours.”

      Geez, man, can’t you give a guy a break? Coyne is 48 years old for god’s sake. Soft Bulletin was released 16 years into the Lips’ career! I for one don’t believe that artists have an endless wellspring of musical ideas to pull from; at some point you exhaust your most innovative creativity and either hang your hat up or you take it a little easy and play to your fans. Very few musicians stay innovative for their whole life.

      The Lips were an underground 80s band that missed most of the initial alternative hype wave; 10 years on they then released a kitschy pop single that seemingly doomed them to one-hit wonderdom; fell into drug addiction; somehow defeated the odds against them (old, one hit, drugs) and released one of the greatest albums of the 90s; then Yoshimi! (oh yeah, all the while putting on some of the most innovative, risk-taking live shows of the past 20 years)

      Dude *needs* to take a nap. He’s earned it.

  49. paul newman   |   Posted on Mar 8th, 2009 0

    wayne: youre an asshole
    win: no, you are the asshole
    crowd: ooh SNAP

  50. Yeah, now that it’s the second half of the North American Blur/Oasis duel, what exactly could I write to score a touchdown instead of a field goal in comment points. I expect -60 for this one.

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