The Flaming Lips announced this past week that the plans to turn their album Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots into a stage musical are now well underway. Crazy, to be sure; but any fan of the Lips will know this is far from the craziest thing the band have done. From releasing music in gummy vaginas, riding across their crowds in a bubble or filling their records with blood; The Flaming Lips are one of, if not the weirdest band in the world today. In this slideshow we have a look at some of the coolest, most far-out Flaming Lips freakouts of their career.
Wayne Coyne body-surfs in a bubble First debuted at Coachella in 2004, the image of Wayne Coyne surfing the crowd in his Hamster Ball has become synonymous with the Flaming Lips live show. Long have their shows been focused on audience interaction and having a good time; it seems only natural that rolling across the crowd in a giant bubble is Coyne’s idea of a party.
Gummy skulls In 2011 The Flaming Lips went on a candy-flavoured rampage, releasing limited edition songs, albums and live recordings on USB sticks encased within gummy homes. There were gummy foetus’, gummy vaginas, gummy skulls; and even an entire live performance of The Soft Bulletin encased in a gummy skull with a marijuana flavoured gummy brain. Yummy.
Steve Drozd shoots up on film In no means a glorification of drugs, Steven Drozd recounting his battle with heroin while he cooks up a spoonful of black tar on screen in Brad Beesley’s documentary The Fearless Freaks is one of the most haunting and effecting accounts of addiction you’re likely to see anywhere. Detailing his history of drug use, Drozd then describes the drugs effects as they kick in. Truly an advertisement against drug use if ever there was one.
The Flips act as Beck’s backing band Following the release of 2002’s Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots , The Flaming Lips toured the U.S as Beck’s backing band. While the pairing was sensational for anyone who saw them, the Lips didn’t find the tour quite as much fun as they were expecting to. In numerous interviews, they have since revealed that the musical chameleon wasn’t the kind of stoner-slacker one would expect from his music, instead labeling him as “the kind of guy who takes a limo and then worries about people knowing he takes a limo.”
Flaming Lips do Spongebob Squarepants In 2004 The Flaming Lips contributed a song to the soundtrack of the Spongebob Squarepants movie. The aptly titled ‘Spongebob and Patrick Confront the Psychic Wall of Energy’ joined a star-studded array of songs by the likes of Wilco, Ween, Motorhead, Avril Lavigne - and of course - Spongebob and Patrick.
The 24 hour song Similarly to their line of gummy skulls, the band released an extraordinarily ambitious 24 hour-long song encased within a real human skull. Coyne says that "it's a song about death and it's a song about fucking and it's a song about life." They have yet to perform this ditty, called '7 Skies H3' live (for obvious reasons).
The Lips get an alley named after them In 2007, The Flaming Lips were honoured by their hometown of Oklahoma by having an alleyway named after them. Located near the railroad crossing in Bricktown, some have described the alley as being “full of open dumpsters and poorly lit”. However Oklahoma city mayor Mick Cronett was quick to point out that the alley was “very high profile and very safe and clean.” Whatever it may look like, the Oklahoma natives were “very excited and very honoured” by the announcement.
The Flaming Lips’ 90210 appearance In 1994, The Flaming Lips had just scored their first taste of commercial success with the single ‘She Don’t Use Jelly’. It led to performances on both Letterman and Beavis and Butthead, but more interestingly, Beverly Hills 90210. Describing the show, Wayne Coyne said: "We'd already been a band for 10 years... but I think earlier on we probably would have just scoffed at it and said, 'We're not into this silliness. We're a serious band, we do art and we do music and fuck you.' But I think we were starting to embrace the kind of absurd extras that come with being in a rock band because really that's where all the fun is, to tell you the truth."
The Christmas On Mars film Wayne Coyne’s sci-fi epic, Christmas on Mars , starred his bandmates as well as close friends in a psychological drama set on a newly colonised Mars spacestation during Christmas. Filming began in 2001, and the movie was finally released at the Sasquatch musical festival in 2008. It’s a real trip, man.
Zaireeka After the flop of 1995's Clouds Taste Metallic, and lead guitarist Ronnie Jones leaving the band citing Steven Drozd’s increasing drug use as the reason, The Flaming Lips took to creative new ways to craft and perform their music. Starting with the Parking Lot Experiments, in which the band gathered an audience of a couple thousand in a parking lot and conducted their car stereos like an orchestra, the idea evolved into a series of boombox experiments. Eventually, the performances birthed the four-CD epic Zaireeka, which was intended to be played simultaneously across four different CD players; or mixing and matching multiple sets.
8 gigs in 24 hours Just last month, The Flaming Lips sought to beat Jay Z’s world record of most live performances in 24 hours. Starting in Memphis and travelling down the Mississippi Delta down to New Orleans, the Lips performed eight 15-20 minute shows a piece. Wayne Coyne said of the world record, "to be published alongside the man who ate 10 kg of his own boogers, beside the woman with the longest toenails or perhaps even to be published beside an individual who has had maybe 1,000 cockroaches stuffed into their ears... that, to me, would be one of life's absurd joys."
Dark Side Of The Moon performance In 2009 the Lips teamed up with Coyne’s nephew’s band, Stardeath and White Dwarfs, to perform Pink Floyd’s seminal 1973 LP Dark Side of the Moon at a New Year’s Eve show in Oklahoma. While this in itself would have been fun enough, both bands decided to head into the studio to reimagine and recreate the ubiquitous record track by track. Enlisting Henry Rollins and Peaches to help with some spoken word segues (and the infamous vocal solo on 'The Great Gig in the Sky’); the psychedelic super-ensemble created a typically weird but faithful reinterpretation of one of rock’s greatest albums.
Blood vinyl For the release of their 2012 Record Store Day collaborative release The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwiends, the band gathered an all-star ensemble for a typically tripped out album. Even more crazy than their record featuring Ke$ha, was the fact that the band released a limited edition copy of the record, featuring samples of the performers’ blood in the vinyl. Going for $2500 apiece, and limited to just ten copies, the vinyl featured plasma from Nick Cave, Ke$ha, Erykah Badu, Chris Martin and the Lips themselves. Sweat and tears not included.
‘Do You Realize??’ named the official song of Oklahoma In 2009, the popular Yoshimi... single was voted the official state rock song of Oklahoma. An advisory panel culled 458 different tunes down to 10, and then the public voted. The Flaming Lips ended up on top, with one punter remarking "the beauty in the message of 'Do You Realize??' perfectly suits the beautiful state of Oklahoma."
Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots – the musical If Green Day’s American Idiot deserves its own Broadway reinterpretation; then surely Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots should have its own musical run too. Talks regarding a Broadway show began way back in 2007 with production company La Jolla Playhouse on board to bring the story of Yoshimi to life. At the helm of the project is Des McAnuff, who is responsible for both Jersey Boys and the Broadway adaptation of The Who’s Quadrophenia . Details have been slow until this past week, when the band put out a call for cast auditions - looking for "African-Americans" and "Asians" who were "comfortable" with puppets and wire-work. We cannot wait.
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