Turntable Interview: The Flaming Lips
When you name your album The Terror, you better hope your fans are prepared for a dark and twisty album filled with sweetly paranoid tracks built on bewilderingly wild mood swings and bleakly beautiful songs. Luckily, fans of the Flaming Lips wouldn’t expect, or want, anything else. For 30 years, the group has released album after album of experimental, challenging music that is, at its core, fun. The same description –- experimental, challenging, fun –- applies to the band members, which I discovered when I sat down to talk to Wayne Coyne about the new album. I was supposed to interview the Flaming Lips at 1PM. It was 3 before we sat down and the band was already supposed to be at WNYC for a performance on Soundcheck. So in the shadow of his long-suffering, yet incredibly charming publicist, who kept wanting to know if I could “do the interview in five minutes? Fifteen minutes max? Could I do the interview while running downstairs?” Wayne and I sat down for the world’s fastest Turntable Interview and played DJ while chatting about the Flaming Lips’ new album The Terror, nothing, and absolutely everything.
STEREOGUM started playing “Tik Tok” by Ke$ha
STEREOGUM: Hi Wayne
WAYNE COYNE: I like your funny name!!!!
STEREOGUM: I like your funny fingernails!
WAYNE COYNE: but nobody can see em [See Coyne’s fingernails in the above photo]
STEREOGUM: Your nails were all over the internet! So you made a lot of news last night in your Reddit AMA by saying you were doing an album with Ke$ha
WAYNE COYNE: Yours are cool but yeah mine are def cooler
Wayne Coyne started playing “Firebird Suite Berceuse; Finale” by Erich Leinsdorf
WAYNE COYNE: well it was a slow news day…as soon as North Korea blows everybody up nobody gun care!!!!!
STEREOGUM: Good point, but were you serious about making an album with Ke$ha? It’s always a little bit hard to tell with you.
WAYNE COYNE: I type too slow to have clever comebacks. Well…yeah Ke$h and us already ben makin songs for a bit…
STEREOGUM: And a full album is on the way?
WAYNE COYNE: Don’t know how full yet but for sure a couple tracks
STEREOGUM: Your new album isn’t even out yet and you’re already planning the next step ahead. Have you always worked like that?
Melissa Locker started playing “I Have Known Love” by Silver Apples
WAYNE COYNE: well its mostly up to Ke$h and we was texting juz the other day and she said somethin bout us doin our weirdo record together and i said fuck yeah!!!!
STEREOGUM: Fuck yeah is right! So when I heard your new album, I immediately thought of this band the Silver Apples
WAYNE COYNE: Your great selection of Silver Apples has made it difficult to type!!!! Haha that’s cause you obviously have impeccable taste!!!
Wayne Coyne started playing “Shuggie” by Foxygen
STEREOGUM: Well I like your record, so I must have good taste.
WAYNE COYNE: heard foxy gen got abducted by spaceships
STEREOGUM: That must have disrupted their tour plans
WAYNE COYNE: Do you believe in UFOs???
STEREOGUM: Of course. Do you?
WAYNE COYNE: I used to but know i think they are just our own government 200 years in the future…ha ha..
STEREOGUM: Well that is certainly a possibility. Terminator-style
WAYNE COYNE: Some people think i came from outer space
Melissa Locker started playing “Holes” by Mercury Rev
STEREOGUM: I thought you came from Oklahoma
WAYNE COYNE: if you could go to Mars would you spend five years doing it???
STEREOGUM: Yes! If you were from space would Oklahoma have to change their state song?
WAYNE COYNE: no>>>its ok to come from space as long as you read the bible
STEREOGUM: Those Gideons must have dropped bibles in interplanetary reststops
WAYNE COYNE: mercury rev are from space toooo
STEREOGUM: Years ago I went to a listening party for Zaireeka. But I have never listened to it on four stereos ever again. Is that frustrating as an artist to know that people aren’t hearing your art the way you intended it?
WAYNE COYNE: That’s because you dont have many friends …..
STEREOGUM: Ouch, Wayne!
Wayne Coyne started playing “Myth” by Beach House
WAYNE COYNE: juz keeeeeeeeding !!! you seem cool from the music you play AND youve had your pic taken with louis C K like me
STEREOGUM: Thank you. But is that frustrating as an artist to know that people aren’t hearing your art the way you intended it?
WAYNE COYNE: noooooo… i allow that you can juz do what ya like ..i understand that people have better thangs to do
STEREOGUM: Did you have any ideal listening situation in mind for your new album?
WAYNE COYNE: Well…probably best driving through antartica with perpetual twilight
Melissa Locker started playing “Ceremony [Alternate 12″ Version]” by New Order
STEREOGUM: That sounds doable. Was there a story behind this album?
WAYNE COYNE: have you ever seen the northern lights??
WAYNE COYNE: You must be a vampire!!!!…..
STEREOGUM: I am not the one with a vial of blood in my possession
WAYNE COYNE: Are you from Brooklyn??
STEREOGUM: How did you guess? Was it my lack of melanin?
WAYNE COYNE: haha…. well i really think all humans are fascinated with blood.. arent you?
STEREOGUM: In that it keeps me alive. Not for apartment decorating purposes
WAYNE COYNE: what’s melanin ??
STEREOGUM: Skin tone
WAYNE COYNE: I like pale as long as you smile
STEREOGUM: But, wait, are the Northern Lights the story behind your new record? Or were you just throwing me off the track?
Wayne Coyne started playing “Atmosphere” by Joy Division
WAYNE COYNE: no….dont relly know bout the northern lights but yeah perpetual twilight
STEREOGUM: Sounds dystopian
WAYNE COYNE: something bleak and beautiful
STEREOGUM: Bleak and beautiful actually describes a lot of your recent work, but not much of your early work. Do you think it’s something that comes with age? Or just an evolution of your artistic expression?
WAYNE COYNE: i think a part of me longs to be controlled by some over lord
STEREOGUM: Isn’t that a publicist? Just kidding!
WAYNE COYNE: i think you can accidentally tell a hidden brutal truth about yourself in music sometimes
STEREOGUM: Is that therapeutic? Or daunting?
Melissa Locker started playing “David” by The Radio Dept.
WAYNE COYNE: This joy division song makes me think of brutal truth
STEREOGUM: Yeah, it’s a brutal song!
WAYNE COYNE: All art is therapeutic to its maker
STEREOGUM: We only have a few seconds left before your publicist murders me (with kindness), so is there anything that you want people to keep in mind with the new record?
WAYNE COYNE: that the flaming lips are very lucky to have such a wonderful and sensitive audience..i think its our best album we’ve ever made. thanks that was fun!!! and listening to cool new music..well new for me!!!!!!!
The Terror is out now via Warner Bros.