Bard of weird
Flaming Lips bandleader Wayne Coyne on fate and free will.
WHEN it comes to weirdness, the Flaming Lips make Lady Gaga lookS like Gidget. And if a Flaming Lips concert is the Greatest Show on Earth (it is), then bandleader Wayne Coyne is P.T. Barnum, spiked with L. Ron Hubbard, Jean-Paul Sartre, and your junior-high chorus instructor. Flaming Lips concerts yield the same result every time: one of the most ecstatic experiences in modern pop culture.
From the Midwestern abyss of Oklahoma City, touring endlessly around the world, the group has endured almost 30 years of alt-pop outsiderness. The band released its 12th album, Embryonic, last October to widely mixed reviews. Embryonic was recorded differently than your last few albums. Well, yeah. And I’m not proud of that. You have to believe, in as much as all your experiences tell you, that you know what you’re doing, otherwise you don’t get into this thing far enough to be able to not have control. I would say almost every song on Embryonic is not what we intended to do. We were trying to do other music with everything we had. I can say that honestly. The album has a more organic, improvisational approach. Like you relinquished control and let the process take over. Would you say that’s accurate?
There’s this great Miles Davis song that says, ‘Thinking one thing but doing another.’ And that is the truth – you really have to be convinced that you’re doing this other thing to actually do the real thing. It sucks because the more we know about it, the more we’re looking for the invisible reality. The invisible reality is invisible – you’ll never know it.
But that’s true in our lives as well. You have to have a plan. And so we Sounds like a question of fate versus free will.
I totally agree. ... It’s like, when do you surrender and let the universe take you, and when do you assert yourself and say no? That is the mother (expletive). Free will is not any fun. We all want to be a slave to something.
That’s why when I sing about, you know, ‘ We’re free to be slaves’ (on Sagittarius Silver Announcement from Embryonic), it’s almost like: Pick. If you’re brave enough and have enough experiences, pick the thing that you want to surrender to and let that be the way your life went.
And I struggle with that a lot. I struggle with, do I wanna surrender to art? Ah, art is kinda boring. Do I wanna surrender to just having a good time? I don’t know.
I wanna have a good time, and then I wanna do some art, and I wanna be serious, and I wanna sleep and I wanna run all day. You don’t ever settle. – The Seattle Times/McClatchy-Tribune Information n The Flaming Lips (with opening act The Raveonettes) play Sands Expo Hall E in Singapore on Nov 11. Tickets and info at www.sistic.com.sg.
Oddball delight: Flaming Lips with enigmatic frontman Wayne Coyne (second
left) set to play Singapore on Nov 11.