The Flaming Lips are a band originally from Oklahoma, who’ve gone almost everywhere and have done almost everything when it comes to experimenting with their sound.
The band formed in 1983, and is well known for their songs such as “Do You Realize??” and “She Don’t Use Jelly.” Some of their more experimental tracks include “Fight Test,” “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots,” and “The W.A.N.D.”
Frontman and self-proclaimed creative force of the band, Wayne Coyne, said the band was most inspired by the local punk rock scene in Oklahoma when they started out.
Coyne said the band name came about from pure happenstance; they needed a band name to put on a flier for one of their earlier shows, so they went with it and never looked back.
“It’s a dorky name, but we’re a dorky band,” he said.
At one of their early shows, they knew a representative from Warner Brothers, their record label, would be attending the show they were co-headlining with punk band The Butthole Surfers. They decided to surprise her with a flaming welcome.
“We would have this cymbal turned upside down and fill it full of lighter fluid… then catch it on fire and bash the hell out of it,” Coyne said. “We’re called the Flaming Lips, we thought we’d do this crazy thing where we’d catch everything on fire and it will be amazing and she’ll think we’re the greatest thing ever, you know. So we did that and it was insanely dangerous and it was insanely out of control.”
Luckily, this incident at one of their early shows led to a record deal, not complete chaos.
“No one in the club felt as though there was anything to be alarmed about. I think they kind of had handed over the control to us and they sort of felt like ‘if you’re doing this, you must know what you’re doing,’ which we didn’t at all,” he said. “It was out of control as music, and it was loud, and energetic, and it was insane that there was this fire.”
Coyne said the record label representative didn’t care about the fire, but she said she cared about how the Flaming Lips were as people.
“I think all that stuff showed her that we were very willing to be insane if we had to entertain people,” he said.
“With a Little Help from My Fwends” is the second main album of their “Fwends” series released in 2014. This album is a track-for-track tribute to The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” Coyne said the band was working on doing “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” on the David Letterman Show for The Beatles’ 50th anniversary of landing in New York and their friend Sean Lennon, John Lennon’s son, stepped in for the performance.
Coyne said nearly a year later, Miley Cyrus, a recent friend and collaborator to the Flaming Lips, was in the studio with the band for their forthcoming album “Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz” when she sang a version of “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” for the band.
“She loved the song, and as we were in the studio, Miley did this really spectacular version of the song,” he said. “That’s not an easy feat. All the songs that John Lennon sings, even though they are amazing when John Lennon is doing them, they’re not that charming and not that easy to make charming if John isn’t on them, you know. This version that Miley did, even though Miley sounds nothing like John Lennon, the real song was really special and spectacular and as we play it for people, everybody would kind of go crazy about it.”
Coyne said more people were urging the band to do more of The Beatles album in their own voice with their own musical flavor.
“It’s a lot of songs and it’s a lot of difficult songs, and that dilemma of the John Lennon songs, as beautiful and amazing as they are, I mean they’re very difficult for anybody except John Lennon and the Beatles to do well,” he said. “The John Lennon ones, there is something uncanny and un-normal that John is doing to the song that’s not apparent if you take him out of it, and try to be you inside of that song. Because we had Miley do such a great version of one of the more difficult songs, that sort of set us up to try other ones. I think some of them are insanely different from than the originals, but that was sort of our intention.”
From lighting cymbals on fire to pressing bodily fluids into records, the band has made headlines for their antics. Coyne recently said he would like to take the urine of Miley Cyrus, a recent friend and collaborator of the band’s, mix it with glitter and press it into vinyl records for the release of their 2015 album Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz.
This isn’t a new technique for the band, apparently; in the past, they’ve pressed both beer and blood into records.
“I think that’s all very possible. I don’t think it’s possible for anybody else, but it might be possible with us for Miley,” Coyne said.
The beer vinyl was the band’s collaboration with Dogfish Head Alehouse for Record Store Day 2018. They pressed 100 copies of the beer vinyl, which was essentially a vinyl disc with beer pressed inside.
Flaming Lips have also pressed blood into records. For the release of “The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends” in 2012, they took samples of blood from each of the album’s collaborators, including Ke$ha, Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Nick Cave, Yoko Ono, Erykah Badu and more.
Ten copies of the vinyl were sold for $2,500 each. Coyne has completely rationalized this unique pressing.
“All these people had secretly — I’m not allowed to talk about exactly how they did it — but they secretly sent me some vials of their actual blood that they had taken out of their arms and sent them to me,” Coyne said. “I placed it all together in a big mixing bowl and put it into these records. I still have one in my refrigerator here. We had to deliver it in refrigerated vans so the blood didn’t get too dark before they had it.”
“That’s as insane as you can get,” he said with a laugh.
The Flaming Lips play in Sioux Falls on June 26 at The District. Doors open at 7 p.m., music starts at 8 p.m. with NET opening the night.
For more information, visit pepperentertainment.com.