Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne shares thoughts from "The King's Mouth"
Wayne Coyne spoke with the columnist this week about a range of issues including today's Warner Bros. release of "The King's Mouth," the latest album by his (and Oklahoma's) band The Flaming Lips. Formed in 1983 and evolving from Coyne's vision, The Flaming Lips have transitioned from a punk band that wanted to be Pink Floyd into its own entity that creates musical art in the realm of Pink Floyd.
The new album stems from an art piece with the same name. An immersive and overwhelming sensory installation, it was meant to be something "simple and fun and absurd," Coyne said. The music was first made to go along with the exhibit's story but ideas rose and a storytelling album emerged.
"I think it helped it be more universal and more fun," Coyne said. "The ability to truly be yourself, especially in music is such a difficult thing. It's esoterically part of the installation and, because of that, it becomes more universal."
Check out brief taste of the exhibit experience from Factory Obscura in Oklahoma City: •Flaming Lips/Factory Obscura — "The King's Mouth" (installation) — https://youtu.be/QelPB4CprL8.
Coyne speaks of music's wonders and mysteries with the same enthusiasm he had as a 10-year-old who listened to "Strawberry Fields Forever" and let his imagination wander. When he learned that John Lennon wrote it from a different experience, a songwriter's secret made its epiphany — everybody interprets the art through their own prism.
"I think that's one of the great mysteries of what music does, it offers you a suggestion," he said, "and you start to understand what it's talking about. It explodes into their imagination. That's why some music is magic and some isn't. The creator is never the one to make it magic, it's the listener."
With a catalog of 15 studio albums, 18 EPs and several compilations, singles (including the state's official rock song "Do You Realize?), soundtrack contributions and more, The Flaming Lips still make music that effects its audience. Coyne said it's overwhelming to think about. It's also incentive to continue for as long as possible.
"I kind of feel if we've gone this far, we can probably go until I die and probably even after that," Coyne said. "At some point, our music really lives past us. That's kind of the power of it."
Now as he nears 60, Coyne said he's learned and adapted his music both to the change in his viewpoint from writing a song 20 years ago to what it means to him now. It also involves recognizing how his audience takes its meaning as well. It feels like a joyous responsibility.
Coyne credits the band's origins in the underground punk rock scene in Oklahoma City in the early 1980s with allowing the creativity of the music to expand without limits. He credits peers who passed through that scene: Black Flag, The Replacements and Sonic Youth, among others; with showing them to reach for what they could do and become without unrealistic possibilities.
Noted as an icon of all that is fearless and cool about an artistic Okie, Coyne enjoys being called an "ambassador." The band's portrayal of itself in the 2016 episode of "Pickathon" on the IFC series "Portlandia" played to that while also featuring the band. A friend of series creator and star Fred Armisen, Coyne believes it's the "funniest" episode of the show produced.
"It's like our own sort of secret freak flag," he said. "I feel the same way. Because I live here in Oklahoma and stayed in my neighborhood, all the things I found are true to me are true to other people."
That resonates with the audience. Coyne said it amazes but doesn't shock him that concerts will now have parents and children together. I took my daughter to her first Lips concert in December 2016 and she agreed the tour t-shirts said everything: "I experienced The Flaming Lips in concert and it made me a better human being."
"Because they (fans) love it so much, their kids love it," Coyne said. "The beauty of kids, they want to love what you love. When you love The Flaming Lips, it's such a great, perfect thing for them to have. There's so much optimism, so much joy in it."
The joy of creating music with Steven Drozd the past 28 years is part of where that magic is borne, Coyne said. A 1987 graduate of Eisenhower High School, several local musicians of a certain age remember jamming with the multi-talented Drozd back in high school. That it's so memorable isn't lost on Coyne. He said Drozd channels optimism and melancholy and turns it into magic. The pair escalate with creativity.
"He's such an insane, insane master musician," Coyne said. "His music is so musical and so emotional that my weird voice going with that is almost like a Walt Disney character. ... When I listen back to what we've done, no one could have put us together and thought 'this is going to work.' It's just such a miracle of collaboration. I'm like those people in Lawton, only I'm still playing music with Steven."
As The Flaming Lips rehearse for touring in Europe and Australia, Coyne was reminded the last time they played the hometown of Oklahoma City. Ever quick with an idea he offered hope for the "Oklahomies" ready for their return.
"Wow, 3 years goes by so fast," Coyne said. "We may have to put together a New Year's Eve show."
You can pick up "The King's Mouth" through all online retailers or, if you're really cool, at your favorite record store. A review of the album and more nuggets from our interview will be in next week's column.
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Cade Roth & The Black Sheep's Ryan Joyce graced the confines of Studio Blanket/Tent Fort to spend some times and make some music for this week's edition of Today's Best Soundemonium! with Steve Carr, a.k.a. Steve-O, and the columnist. Tonight they'll be packing the Park Tavern in Medicine Park. You can catch the show's replay at 6:30 p.m. Sunday.
A great moment came with the performance of a Steelers Wheel classic: •Cade Roth & The Black Sheep — "Stuck in the Middle with You" — https://youtu.be/2ND5UWMl1XE .
Jokey McJokerson remained "ducky" and was musical with this week's joke set-up. Here’s the punchline:
"Put him in a microwave until his Bill Withers.'”
Turn your radio dial to Magic 95.3 FM Radio around 6:25 p.m. each Thursday (if not much earlier) or stream the half-hour show online: http://s1.phx.icastcenter.com/start/kmgz953/ or www.onlineradiobox.com; or on the Apple or Android apps or on the TuneIn app, or: http://www.kmgz.com/.
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