In conjunction Scrapple TV, our partner in New Media crime, Phawker sat down with Flaming Lips mainman Wayne Coyne on his tour bus a few hours before their performance at the Festival Pier last month and rolled film. DISCUSSED: Sex, drugs, rock n’ roll, why the new Lips album is so goddamned dark, why he has Nick Cave’s blood, the story behind the Wayne Coyne Hand Grenade Incident, how he got Erykah Badu naked and covered in cum and glitter, and if he wasn’t the lead singer of the Flaming Lips what would have he done with his life. The answer may surprise you.
PREVIOUSLY: Last night the Flaming Lips unveiled the more-awesome-than-you-could-possibly-imagine reboot of their stage show, which replaces the happy-happy-joy-joy bliss rallies they’ve been staging for the past decade. Gone are the balloons and blood and bubble-walking and the dancing Santa Clauses and the big hands that shoot lasers. In its place — well, fact is it defies words, you really had to be there — but calling it H.R. Giger meets Hanna-Barbera on the dark side of the moonhenge isn’t that far from accurate. Frizzy-brained frontman Wayne Coyne conducted the proceedings from high atop a lumpy mound-like perch festooned with bifurcated mirror balls and long, winding tentacles of LED lights pulsating this way and that in time to the music. Behind him was a bedazzling beaded curtain of luminous diodes that pulsated and projected things both Freudian and phantasmagoric. The music, too, has changed mightily. Most of last night’s set was drawn from the vast, cold, Krautrock-ian wastes of the new album, The Terror, a desolate, forbidding totem of paranoia, fear and loathing — in short, it’s the feel good bummer of the year. Which you’d think would be tough, if not impossible, to sell to a beery festival audience on a gorgeous Indian Summer night on the Delaware. But if any band can do it, it’s the motherfucking Flaming Lips, 21st century ambassadors of peace and magic from Oklahoma by way of Neptune. And they did it with humor, charm and an unconditional love that renders them more powerful than you can possibly imagine, not to mention uncommonly lyrical and sophisticated musicianship. Even Coyne’s off-key step-on-a-dog’s-paw yelp has morphed into a remarkably expressive and tuneful instrument. This was readily apparent during the float-y, elegiac readings of “A Spoonful Weighs A Ton” and “Do You Realize,” that somehow resisted the urge to launch into interstellar overdrive, as per usual. Whenever the music would bog down into long, inconsolably sad passages, Coyne would exhort the crowd to cheer — the sadder the music, the louder the audience must cheer, he said. As if to say, ‘C’mon people, we can get through this if we stick together.’ And so we did. At one point between songs, Coyne nervously eyed the Ben Franklin Bridge looming majestic in the near-distance and worried aloud that some driver would be distracted by the Lips strobe-flashed psychotropic spectacle, lose control and plunge into the inky depths of the Delaware. “If a car drives off that bridge,” he said, “I’m going to stop and we’re gonna go rescue them.” Everyone cheered in agreement. He said it as a joke, but he wasn’t really kidding. And neither were we. – JONATHAN VALANIA
PREVIOUSLY: We’d been traversing the spine of Tornado Alley for the last two hours when the stewardess announced that we would be landing in Oklahoma City in a few minutes, and that we should fasten our seatbelts and return our minds to the upright position, when the drugs took hold. We are, as the saying goes, off to see the wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Odd—or, if you prefer, the Wizard of OK, a.k.a. Wayne Coyne, frizzy-brained mainman of the Flaming Lips, the P.T. Barnum Of The Stoned, a.k.a. The Man Who Had A Headache And Accidentally Saved The World. Why? Because, because, because of the wonderful things he does, of course. The balloons. The confetti. The blood. The boobies. The strobes and the smoke and the bunny costumes and the dancing Santas. The blood. The crowd-surfing bubble-walking. The giant hands that shoot laser beams. The blood. The limited-edition marijuana-flavored brains inside a gummy skull. The rocket ship he built in his backyard. The way he’s made a 30-year career—spanning 15 albums, 18 EPs, 22 soundtrack appearances and exactly one hit song—feel like one million billionth of a second on a Sunday morning that you’ll never get back, and you wouldn’t have it any other way. MORE