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Flaming Lips Talk New Projects
Luke Turner , June 22nd, 2011 08:30

Wayne Coyne enthuses on "great, explosive, strange" time for the band

Later today we're running an extensive interview with Wayne Coyne on the making of The Flaming Lips magnificent LP The Soft Bulletin, which of course will be played in full for ATP at Alexandra Palace on July 1st. But we're pleased to also talk about the fact that Wayne Coyne & co are folk with their eyes set firmly on a distant, psychedelic horizon. As he tells Quietus writer Stewart Smith, "It's a great, explosive, strange time to be in the Flaming Lips for sure, 'cos there's so much shit we have to do, that we want to do, and it just give you another level of freedom."

Coyne is referring to the group's current plan to record one-off tracks and release them via peculiar shapes and bits of the human body - there's already been a skull, and apparently a vagina in on the cards for a future release. Coyne explains how this peculiar series came into being, in part because he says that releasing the tracks one at a time would be "mindbogglingly normal... I couldn't have any interest in that. So if we're going to release a song a month, what we're going to do is some weird shit. I didn't know we were going to be able to release a song in a 7 lb life size gummy skull. I didn't even know that existed at the time."

Coyne says that they were determined to match this new way of releasing music with new ways of recording, to make things more "radical and spontaneous." He adds that this gives a tremendous air of uncertainty: "Sometimes we're not always sure what it's going to be until we're mastering the record. We're piecing together a bunch of different recordings, some are done at my house, some are done in the studio, some Steven has done at his house and so on. These strange little moments that weren't meant to be songs, they're just little sounds. So far it's been four songs, other than the very first thing which was for Iphones. So there's a lot of material. And a lot of it is not edited. A lot of it is just us screaming in a microphone saying, fuck, that was a cool moment, and two or three weeks later it's out. And that's pretty scary."

The process, says Coyne, is an ongoing one - and sometimes he looks back at the tracks and isn't entirely convinced by what they came up with. "Some of it I listen to now and it's like 'what the fuck is that?' 'dude, that's that song, you made it!' 'Oh'. Since we put these out we're not sitting here doing nothing. We put out something and then the very next day we're making more new music. It's just such an intense schedule."

With collaborations with Nick Cave and Lightning Bolt on the cards, Coyne feels it's not just the Flaming Lips who are making use of new, faster methods of releasing music. "We know tons of people who are completely into this way of being and making things. It's exciting. And you can do so much these days, the technology is so wonderful. We put together one of our 12"s in six days. From the time we recorded to when we held it in our hands, it was six days. It's pretty great."

One of the 12" releases was a collaboration with Neon Indian, about which Coyne says thus: "I'd seen Neon Indian play last October and ran into them after the show and I think we sort of casually said we should do something together. And then Alan [Palomo] from Neon Indian was looking for someone to record with. I think since my conversation with him, he decided he was going to do something with Dave Fridmann. So I was talking to Dave Fridmann about coming up to record and he was like 'yeah, I've got you scheduled in right after Neon Indian'. So I said we have to do something together, so tell Alan to stay there two days longer and we'll just fucking do something. So I organised a couple of songs, but a lot of it we didn't even use. There were a couple of sessions where he played his theremin through some fucked up synthesiser effects and we tried our best to accompany him. We grabbed from what was probably three or four hours of playing, three or four different minutes of music and put it together. It's kinda like the way Miles Davis did Bitches Brew. You'd do these strange, open-ended jam sessions then go back and pick, 'oh, that's a good moment'. Let's experiment, let's not decide everything, just let the music happen. So that was great."