More on Flaming Lips’ Dark Side escapades


On New Year’s Eve, the Flaming Lips are set to turn Oklahoma City’s Cox Center into the capital of Weirdsville, U.S.A. when they bring their annual Freakout music-and-lights explosion to their hometown. Along with a standard Lips set and “the world’s biggest balloon drop,” the band will ring in 2010 by playing Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety with Stardeath and the White Dwarfs, a group led by Wayne Coyne’s nephew Dennis. (The recently recorded Lips/Stardeath version of Dark Side, featuring guest spots by Peaches and Henry Rollins, is available for purchase on iTunes starting December 22.) Even in the psychotic realm of Flaming Lips gigs, this one looks to be extra nuts.

So we got Wayne and Dennis Coyne on the phone to talk about Pink Floyd, Christmas, and the illicit wonders of online videos. Happy holidays:

Pitchfork: Have you ever tried to sync up Dark Side of the Moon with The Wizard of Oz?
Wayne Coyne: Of course. I think what really spurred that phenomenon on is that everybody secretly thinks, “Oh, here is a good change to listen to Dark Side of the Moon and watch The Wizard of Oz.” It’s like having a chance to sleep in on Saturday and eat ice cream, like, “I’ll do that. Fuck it.” Our new version would probably sync up in some philosophical aspects with Tron, which probably is not very watchable unless you have some really good music or marijuana to get you through it.

Pitchfork: What movie do you think Embryonic would go well with?

WC: The movies that triggered some of the imagery while we were actually making Embryonic were these two weird movies that are sort of about S&M and obsessive sexual freak-out behavior: The Night Porter, this Italian Nazi movie, and Last Tango in Paris. I must have been considering these elements of pleasure and pain and masochistic shit. Why not? I’m an adult, I can do that.

Pitchfork: Wasn’t Last Tango in Paris pretty controversial when it came out?

WC: Yeah, the most controversial scene is when Marlon Brando has that woman put butter on her fist and stick it up his ass. Even though you don’t really get to see it, that’s always kind of brutal. It’s not like watching stuff on the internet now, where people actually do these things, which isn’t really fun at all. But the way they do it– with good lighting and nice-looking people and good music– it’s still disturbing. Context changes everything. You know, when you stick things up your ass, context takes precedent. [laughs]

Pitchfork: Do you watch those kind of videos online?

WC: No matter who you are, you’ll run into somebody who’ll be like, “Jesus, you gotta see this video!” and there’ll be some woman squirting eels out of her ass or something. In some ways I think it’s funny. We live in good times; we can watch something like that and get on with our day. I mean, I don’t want to have a woman squirting eels out of her butt while I’m there, but I’ll watch it on video for 20 seconds.

Pitchfork: Back to Dark Side. What are you guys planning for the New Year’s Eve Freakout show?

WC: I’m picking up this giant mirror ball apparatus that we’ve been having welded by some truss experts outside of Dallas. It’s 20 feet around. The guy who is doing the final inspection of it is the same guy who made Pink Floyd’s giant mirror ball in 1995. He was like, “Let me tell you Wayne, this is even bigger than Pink Floyd’s!” So Wayne’s balls are bigger than Pink Floyd’s. [laughs]

Dennis Coyne: Over the summer, the Lips commissioned me and my dad to glue tiny mirrors onto the 20-foot half-circle. We sat there and worked on this giant mirror ball eight hours a day for two weeks. It was all I could think about; I’d go to sleep and think about these mirrors and how I was going to glue them and what kind of glue I should use.

Pitchfork: Did you always like Dark Side of the Moon? It seems like that album helped start the era of overblown rock that punk eventually tried to take down.

WC: Dark Side of the Moon gets slagged a lot because it’s so popular, but I never felt that way. And even though John Lydon had that “I hate Pink Floyd” t-shirt, he would probably be the first person to say that the early days of Pink Floyd were very much punk rock. They were just some guys who couldn’t play that well who decided, “Fuck it, we’re going to make some weird noises and call ourselves Pink Floyd.” Punk quickly became a knee-jerk cliché, but when it started it did seem like anything was possible. If you look closely, Pink Floyd is probably a lot more punk rock than a lot of punk rock groups were.

I remember when we opened up for the Jesus and Mary Chain in San Francisco around 1984 and we played “Wish You Were Here”. After we played it people were just aghast, like, “Why would you play a fuckin’ Pink Floyd song at this seminal noise punk rock show?” But we cared so little about these strict rules of what was cool and what wasn’t. And if we’re thinking of punk rock as pissing in the face of whatever the established cool is supposed to be, playing that Pink Floyd song on that night was the most punk rock thing we could have done.

Pitchfork: Since it’s that time of year, what’s Christmas with the Coynes like?

DC: Recently, we’ve been doing it at Wayne’s house, and it wouldn’t be a night at Wayne’s house unless there was some kind of show. So every Christmas we’ll get a smoke machine and some strobe lights out. Someone will dress up as Santa Claus and come running through, flashing lights at the little kids. We’ll climb up on the roof and drop snow– it’s an extravagant set-up for five seconds of Santa Claus, but it’s a lot of fun. It just wouldn’t be Christmas with Wayne if we didn’t do it.

Pitchfork: Dennis, do you remember any weird presents you gave Wayne over the years?

DC: When I was seven we found a dead bat outside my house, sprayed it with polyurethane and gave it to Wayne for Christmas. I don’t know if the polyurethane held or not, but if it did I’m sure Wayne would still have it; he keeps everything like that.

Pitchfork: Wayne, congrats on putting out that fetus Christmas ornament, by the way.

WC: Thanks. Right now, the boxes are trying to get through some customs agent who thinks we’re trying to smuggle hashish in from Afghanistan. We’re like, “No, they’re really just heavy ornaments!”

Pitchfork: Are there any other Flaming Lips objects we can look forward to?

WC: We’re thinking about making gummy fetuses as well.

Posted by Ryan Dombal on December 18, 2009 at 8 a.m.

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