It’s astonishing to suppose that The Flaming Lips — the eccentric Oklahoma Metropolis rock band behind such cult-classic songs as “She Don’t Use Jelly” and “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Half 1” — has been lively for practically 40 years, and that its frontman Wayne Coyne is 61. You wouldn’t comprehend it from watching Coyne command the stage like a timeless, professorial hippie, however then once more, The Flaming Lips is an undeniably and delightfully weird group.
The band’s colourful exhibits have at varied occasions featured inflatable robots, suns and frogs, folks sporting assorted animal costumes, a singing nun hand puppet, and Coyne crowd-surfing in an enormous bubble.
Coyne says that when the Lips seem on stage to headline the Borderland Pageant in East Aurora on Sept. 18, he’ll carry out many of the band’s set in one other giant plastic bubble.
In 2021, the band — Coyne, multi-instrumentalists Steven Drozd, Derek Brown, and Matt Kirksey, and drummer Nicholas Ley — placed on particular “area bubble” live shows at The Criterion in Oklahoma Metropolis, at which band members and concertgoers alike have been in separate plastic bubbles as a approach to take part in stay performances safely through the pandemic. The ensuing live shows have been documented in “The Flaming Lips House Bubble Movie,” which premiered in July.
The Borderland Pageant, now in its fourth yr, was based in 2018 by leisure producer and East Aurora native Jennifer Brazill. Having produced festivals in California and Colorado, Brazill turned her consideration to Buffalo and western New York.
“This can be a western New York regional competition,” Brazil stated. “It’s for Rochester, it’s for Buffalo, it’s for Erie, P.A. We would like folks to all come and personal this as theirs. We need to be that competition for everyone on this area, as a result of nothing like this exists right here. There’s one-off exhibits in every single place, that are superior,however this can be a full, curated, two day immersive expertise.”
Along with performances by nationwide acts resembling The Flaming Lips, Portugal. The Man, Michael Franti, and Keller Williams, Borderland options a number of regional bands acquainted to Rochester audiences — together with Folkfaces, Donna the Buffalo, A Woman Named Genny, Driftwood, and Miller & the Different Sinners.
CITY caught up with Wayne Coyne to debate LSD, demise, and The Flaming Lips’ secret ingredient upfront of the Borderland present. The dialog has been edited for size and readability.
CITY: Does the creation of visible components to your stay live shows require the same type of consideration and inspiration as your music does?
Wayne Coyne: The key ingredient in The Flaming Lips, that I don’t suppose the world might actually know, is that all of us love KISS. I imply, we don’t love them completely, however I imply, you already know, for as superior a musician as Steven [Drozd] is and as superior a musician as Derek [Brown] is, they love KISS, and so they love the thought of placing on make-up and sporting loopy stuff, fireplace and explosions and all that. As a result of it permits you to be a performer, however you type of can change into a personality. Our dilemma is all the time, we love making data, we love being artistic within the studio, and simply form of doing no matter that’s.However then, sooner or later, we cross over into being these entertainers who should go on the market and be these show-offs, or no matter.
It’s only a very unusual coincidence. You realize, the extra decided we have been to be a studio band and simply create data, the higher our stay present grew to become, as a result of we simply did no matter we might consider, you already know? We didn’t have any guidelines as to the way in which we ought to be. So we simply made up stuff, which is type of the way in which we at the moment are, however the world retains catching as much as us. I believe the issues that we have been doing 20 years in the past don’t appear odd in any respect now.
Do you suppose your repute as a psychedelic band comes as a lot from the stay efficiency and the visible facet of issues because it does the music?
We have accomplished a canopy file of “Darkish Facet of the Moon,” we have accomplished a canopy file of Beatles. So I believe it is only a manner of type of rapidly attending to the place, like, “Yeah, these guys, they’re going to do lengthy instrumentals, they’ve a freaky gentle present, they’ve lengthy hair, they do medicine. That sounds shut sufficient.” To me, there’s a number of enjoyable in classes. I imply, I all the time suppose that we’re most likely extra punk rock, like a punk rock model of a prog rock band than we’re a psychedelic band. However you bought to know so much about music to inform what that will imply, you already know? And I believe to lots of people, psychedelic music is an excellent time period for it. So I believe it is most likely proper, however it’s not — you already know, I imply, there’s good examples and unhealthy examples of that. However I believe, yeah, we’re a band that you might take some acid to whereas we play our live performance, and also you’d have a good time.
As I perceive it, although, you personally don’t do medicine very a lot, proper?
No, particularly not these variety. I am on the verge of going insane anyway, you already know? And rising up, I undoubtedly grew up in a time the place my youthful brother was 12 or 13 years outdated, he took acid day-after-day, and I used to be simply frightened of it. And the occasions I took it, I did not prefer it in any respect. And I believe the mechanism in my thoughts can be like, I’d see some freak on the market that is babbling incoherently and no matter, and I would be like, “I do not need to be that individual.” And I don’t know, I believe I simply fear an excessive amount of. And I do like my thoughts. I do not imply that in a cocky manner, I identical to that I’m drawn to music, I like that I am drawn to artwork, I just like the issues I take heed to. And I like trusting my senses.
So I did not like the thought of regardless of the Timothy Leary line can be, you already know — “Drop out” — it is like, I wished to be in. I do not need to be out, I do not need to be zonked out, I do not need to be brain-dead. I do not need to be brain-damaged. And so anytime I’d take something — nonetheless, even at this time — I’d simply be like, “Oh, my gosh.” The minute I take one thing that may alter my potential to be accountable, I simply freak out. I all the time suppose I might do some acid, it might be wonderful. Then as quickly as I’d do it, I’d suppose, “What if the home burns down and I do not get our canines,” you already know? I am all the time apprehensive, so no, that does not work for me. I imply, I’d do different medicine, medicine that do not fuck together with your notion a lot. However none of us actually do. None of us are large LSD folks.
You haven’t actually shied away from demise in your lyrics. What’s your present relationship to demise, and have the songs that you just’ve written and carried out over time modified your views on that in methods you didn’t count on?
A part of Steven and my promise to the gods of music is that we might observe our hearts. I imply, that is actually the underside line with us. We do not know what would work within the music trade, we do not know what can be a success, we do not know what would make younger folks adore us. So what we do is we simply sing from that place in your thoughts, that place in your coronary heart that solely music can speak to. And Steven being a grasp, grasp musician with a number of ache in his life — I imply, Steven is the one residing individual from his household — he comes from an enormous household and he is the one residing individual, lot of tragedies. And I’d have recognized of demise, even after I was very younger, very younger. However I all the time felt like music was about that.
I believe singing about ache helps you perceive it. I do not know why. That is why after we discover that we’re doing that, we’re identical to, ‘Oh, my gosh, I can not consider it. Thanks, thanks, thanks,’ regardless of the heavens are, no matter our God is, no matter this mechanism is, that allows you to talk this factor that’s simply so unspeakable. I believe that is why folks make music. I imply, all types of music is enjoyable. However nothing is as valuable as that form of music that speaks to that grief, and that horrible ache. And so Steven and I, for each of us in our lives, music would have helped us in these occasions. So I believe there’s simply one thing in that, after we get to create that. We do not all the time do it even on goal. Typically it is simply one thing that occurs. We actually cherish that because the particular present from the gods, you already know, like, oh, my gosh, we get to sing this music.
However we do love all types of music, and we make all types of stuff on a regular basis. However that particular factor, I believe that is most likely the factor that we’re most rewarded by is singing about that ache and that strangeness, that loneliness, no matter that’s. I believe music most likely is the language for that. Some issues are so deep you could’t even use phrases.
Is there a transformative fan expertise you’ve witnessed that stands out?
We most likely have 5 – 6 of these heavy songs that we do each evening. That, you already know, somebody’s mom has died, somebody’s brother was in a automotive accident, somebody’s father is within the hospital that evening, and so they’re at our present, realizing there’s this, one thing will get to occur whereas the music’s going, when you’re standing in there, with The Flaming Lips viewers. It isn’t a celebration, you already know, however it’s nonetheless a special form of social gathering. And we would like that. I imply, that is an excellent, nice feeling to be linked to.
There’s not that many individuals in your life that may die, so for those who’re linked to somebody when their mom’s died or their baby has died or one thing, that is a deep, heavy, lifelong connection. It could be by way of music, however you get linked by way of that. So, you already know, to us, it is an excellent honor to face there and say, “I do know that ache.” And so after I say that we’re fortunate sufficient to sing these songs, I believe each artist would love to have the ability to handle these issues, and I believe artists attempt to attempt to attempt. It is only a laborious, laborious factor to do. And for us to be fortunate sufficient to have a handful that actually, actually say one thing in that manner, it is nice.
Life is gorgeous, however it’s stuffed with brutal, brutal issues. I believe that is simply a part of The Flaming Lips — you already know, the world. In the event you like The Flaming Lips, you already know that. You realize that life is gorgeous, as a result of your coronary heart is open. If the extra you may have an open coronary heart, the extra delicate you might be to the world, the extra magnificence you see, however you additionally see extra ache. And that is why we sing songs.
Is there something that The Flaming Lips nonetheless have to perform?
I do not suppose we consider it that manner. The way in which that we do music and the way in which that we like being in a gaggle and being on this household, I believe it might most likely be like saying, “Because you’ve eaten all these nice meals in your life, do you suppose it is advisable eat any extra meals?” I would be like, “Effectively, yeah.” I imply, it is our life. We have accomplished this our entire grownup life, and we like doing it, we like what it does, and we just like the residing that it offers us, and we love touring the world. Simply final time we have been in England, we met Peter Gabriel. I imply, my gosh.
I imply, there’s one other facet of it. It’s a loopy, loopy life, which to some folks is horrible. However for us, I imply, we have come by way of a number of that, and it is nice. A part of it’s simply exhilarating. You realize, it is thrilling. I am going to most likely do it ‘until I die. I am going to die on stage someplace.
What are you most pleased with in your profession?
Undoubtedly the music, “Do You Understand??” After we made it, we might have by no means been capable of purposely say, ‘We’ll make this music, it’ll stand for this stuff that we’re all about, and it’ll be a music that individuals play at weddings, and it is gonna be a music that individuals play at funerals and the births of their youngsters.’ We’d have by no means even wished that, in a manner. We’re simply writing songs to please ourselves, you already know, however as time has gone on, I believe that music has actually, we have change into that music. I believe that is all the time taking place in our music that we make. It tells our personal future.
I used to be listening not too long ago to Chris Thile, the mandolinist, give a chat through which he stated songs simply form of enter the general public consciousness. After they actually try this, and so they’re actually efficient, the authorship form of slips away and it turns into this form of nameless tune that simply belongs to everybody. And that appears just like what you’re describing.
I’ve all the time stated I want that The Flaming Lips had written the music “Completely satisfied Birthday.” I imply, what an excellent, helpful, exact — what’s it? Six phrases? And one among them is you add within the identify, and all people is aware of it. It is really easy to sing, though all people sings it in a special key each time. I imply, that is what you need, you already know? And to know that it’s your lyrics and your music and your music. However folks take that and so they could make it into one thing that actually does assist them, and that is not you doing that. The music is there, after which they get to take it and make what they need of it.
Daniel J. Kushner is CITY’s arts editor. He will be reached at email@example.com.