Interviews

The Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne: 'I want to go to space'

By Zaki JufriEvents - 19 November 2014 4:12 PM | Updated 2:38 AM

The Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne: 'I want to go to space'

Confetti, a lot of it. Giant spaghetti-like fibre optics hanging above the stage, a human-powered space bubble, a balloon drop and a cast of quirky inflatable characters – you would think that you have stepped into a fantastical party for a man-child.

This is the kind of show set you can expect from The Flaming Lips, the standard bearers of psychedelic rock, celebrating the spectacle and diversity of rock music. 

Thirty-one years on, the US Oklahoma-based band show no sign of slowing down, with every show stranger than the previous one, and every new album more ambitious than before. 

The three-time Grammy winners will return to perform in Singapore on 1 December, with material from their new album - a homage to The Beatles – that was released at the end of October. 

The theatrics of the band’s live shows or the absurdity of their music may be the hook for fans, but the group’s provocateur-in-chief Wayne Coyne insisted that if you strip away all that, The Flaming Lips are all about the music, and emotional ones at that. 

“They might be loud and have some radicalness to them, but a lot of our songs are just emotional songs,” Coyne said.

“We just get to present them the way that we want,” he told inSing over the phone from his home in Oklahoma City.

An understatement, perhaps, from a band considered one of underground music’s success stories.

They have consistently pushed the boundaries of music without making any apologies, producing 14 studio albums, a film, and countless other projects, including a completely re-imagined version of Pink Floyd's ‘Dark Side of the Moon’. 

COVERING THE BEATLES


Coyne maintained that it was not the band’s idea to release ‘With A Little Help From My Fwends’, a full cover album of The Beatles’ zaniest album, ‘Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’.

It is a total re-envisioning of The Beatles’ 1967 album, kissed by The Flaming Lips’ trademark weirdness, turning the already beatified original into something that even John, Paul, George and Ringo cannot possibly conceive.

“Just like our Pink Floyd album, we didn’t intend to do this Beatles record. The idea came out from a show this past New Year’s Eve where we incorporated some Beatles’ songs in our set. ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ was the best of the songs that we did that night,” Coyne recalled.

What sealed the deal was when the band’s biggest fan and unlikeliest collaborator, pop starlet Miley Cyrus, went over to Coyne’s studio to record ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’.

The Flaming Lips' human-powered space bubble. Photo: AFP

The band then joined Cyrus at the Billboard Awards in May this year where their live performance of the song was well-received.

“It turned out to be a stellar track. Everybody liked it when they heard it. Our managers and friends told us that it will be better to do a record around this,” Coyne said. 

Songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd and Coyne braced themselves for the challenge. 

“We knew a lot of those songs and most of them were impossible to do. These are ‘untouchable’ songs.” 

The band roped in a motley crew of co-conspirators to take part in this collective head-trip: apart from Cyrus, there were electronic music producer Moby, Dinosaur Jr’s J Mascis, and pop-rock duo Tegan & Sara.

NO WORRIES


Wayne Coyne. Photo: AFP

For a band that thrive on originality and artistic freedom, Coyne revealed that working on covers is liberating. 

They have also given their take on music from Queen (‘Bohemian Rhapsody’),  David Bowie (‘The Man Who Sold the World’), Kylie Minogue (‘Can’t Get You out of My Head’) and Devo (‘Gates of Hell’).

“When you work on music by the Beatles or Pink Floyd, no one will ask you if it’s a good song or if the lyrics are good. The worry about whether a song is good or bad is not there. That’s a great release for people who write and produce their music,” he said.

He added: “It may be strenuous work, but it’s just fun to inhabit music again like that.”

So what next on the bucket list for a band that are on everyone’s bucket list of bands to watch? 

“I want to go to outer space. To be the first band to play in space.” 

The Gathering with The Flaming Lips | Date: 1 Dec 2014 | Time: 8pm | Venue: The Coliseum, Hard Rock Hotel Singapore, 8 Sentosa Gateway | Tickets: $98-$120 from eventclique

The Gathering with The Flaming Lips

The Gathering with The Flaming Lips

Date Dec 01, 2014

VenueThe Coliseum, Resorts World Sentosa - Hard Rock Hotel

Ticket PriceS$78.00 - S$120.00
 (excludes booking fee)