Category: Flaming Lips

Record Store Day booty: Flaming Lips, Lee Hazlewood, Dinosaur Jr.

On Record Store Day 2012, Times pop music critic Randall Roberts waited in the line at Vacation Vinyl to score music by Flaming Lips, Dinosaur Jr., Lee Hazlewood, Circle and others
The lines were long, the heat was rough, the music-geek quotient off the charts, but one thing made it all worthwhile in the end: the booty. That is, the limited-edition vinyl that has become the hallmark of Record Store Day, the annual celebration of independent record retailers and the music they sell that occurred on Saturday in the U.S. and Britain.

In my case, said loot was made up of the new Flaming Lips double LP, "Flaming Lips & Heady Fwends," which features, among others, Erykah Badu, Bon Iver, Kesha, Chris Martin and Lightning Bolt; the double-LP teaser of Lee Hazlewood's 1968-71 work, "The LH1 Years: Singles, Nudes & Backsides"; "The Electronic Anthology Project of Dinosaur Jr.," which is exactly what it purports to be; a 7-inch single of the Carolina Chocolate Drops doing Run DMC's "You Be Illin'"; and an album by surreal Finnish metal band Circle, called "Manner." (Alas, I missed out on essential releases from Feist/Mastodon, Lee Perry and Peter Tosh, among others.)

In Los Angeles, the frenzy was focused on three different stores along Sunset Boulevard: Amoeba Music in Hollywood, Vacation Vinyl in Silver Lake, and Origami in Echo Park. I opted for Vacation, the little store across from Sunset Junction that is owned by the dudes who run Hydra Head Records. At 10 a.m., when the doors opened, the queue extended down Sunset and around a corner.

Continue reading »

New Flaming Lips vinyl-only album due for Record Store Day

Flaming Lips' new album to be released April 21 on vinly only
Flaming Lips fans will need to fire up their turntables if they want to hear the group’s new album when it surfaces exclusively on vinyl next month in conjunction with Record Store Day.

“The Flaming Lips and Heavy Fwends” is a double-LP set with experimental collaborations between the band and high-profile pals including Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Yoko Ono, Nick Cave, Bon Iver, Kesha and others.

It will be released only in a vinyl edition created for Record Store Day, the annual promotion of brick-and-mortar independent music retailers, an event that takes place April 21 this year. The discs will be pressed in multicolored vinyl, making each a unique pressing.

Others who have teamed with the Oklahoma-based group for the project include Erykah Badu, Jim James of My Morning Jacket, Neon Indian and Biz Markie. Among the titles of the new tracks: “I’m Working At NASA On Acid” and “Is David Bowie Dying?"

While some tracks appeared in recent months on limited-edition vinyl EPs, most will be out for the first time on the new album. Once the initial pressing has sold out, no more copies will be created, according to the band’s  press release issued  Tuesday.


Flaming Lips musical to debut in 2012, minus Aaron Sorkin

Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne talks 24-hour song, buying human skulls

Woody Guthrie is celebrated with a concert in Tulsa, Okla.

--Randy Lewis

Photo of the Flaming Lips. Credit: J. Michelle Martin Coyne.

Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne talks 24-hour song, buying human skulls

Flaming Lips Flaming Lips

Didn’t Bob Dylan once sing, “There’s no success like excess, and excess is no failure at all”? OK, so maybe that’s not quite it. But more than ever that variation on the theme seems to be the guiding principle for the Flaming Lips.

On the heels of the Oklahoma City-based collective’s announcement last week that it will be releasing a single song that runs six hours, Pop & Hiss caught up with front man Wayne Coyne just as the band was heading into the studio to outdo itself with a new track he promises will run a full 24 hours.

“I hope it has a lot of hooks,” I said when he came on the phone from Freedonia, N.Y., where the Lips were about to embark on their chops-busting recording session this week.

“Or one really ... good one,” Coyne responded with a semi-maniacal laugh.

It sounds like great fun on paper, but what’s the point in the grand scheme of things?

“We’re kind of going by the idea that some music is not meant for intense listening,” Coyne said. “Some music is just there with you.”

Continue reading »

Flaming Lips releasing new song with running time of six hours

Flaming Lips 
Want to hear the new song from the Flaming Lips? Better put in for a day off from work or school to check it out.

“Found a Star on the Ground” runs six hours -- yes, that’s hours, not minutes -- and it’s being released as a philanthropic move to benefit two groups in the band's hometown of Oklahoma City: the Central Oklahoma Humane Society and the Academy of Contemporary Music at the University of Central Oklahoma.

Rather than simply generating proceeds for the causes through music sales, the group solicited donations from fans with the promise of incorporating the names of all those who contributed $100 or more into the “song” itself. Sean Lennon was recruited to read the names of those who took the band up on the offer.

Continue reading »

Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne talks Hollywood Forever show, teases Edward Sharpe cameo, other surprises


In the center of Hollywood right next to the Paramount Studios lot lies the Hollywood Forever cemetery, which, in addition to housing to the bodies of, among many others Cecil B. DeMille, Art Pepper, Yma Sumac, Johnny Ramone, John Huston, Virginia Rappe, Bugsy Siegel and Fay Wray, also serves as an outdoor film venue, art exhibitor and concert venue.

On Tuesday and Wednesday nights, the burial grounds will be loaned to Oklahoma psychedelic rock band the Flaming Lips, who will perform two classic albums, the band's own "The Soft Bulletin" and Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon," on successive nights. Needless to say, for a band known for its imaginative live and studio performances -- the notion of having a graveyard as a canvas was too tempting to pass up. 

"It's got a lot of appeal to it, especially for us," lead singer Wayne Coyne said on the phone from the band's Oklahoma City headquarters, "because we sing a lot about this idea of 'death' -- this idea of happiness and the realization of death, and what do we do with that? So there are a lot of great, powerful themes that you can play into as far as what it means to do all this stuff."

Coyne said the ideas flowed as they were imagining the possibilities of the shows, and that the cemetery was open to the band's ideas. "They said, 'Wayne, you can use anything here you want to do the show. They showed me the bell tower, and your mind immediately goes to some, 'Of course, the Flaming Lips could do something.' You kind of think of it as like the way that John and Yoko did the bed-in for peace -- and people would just show up and we do this great rendition of 'Do You Realize?' while the sun comes up and everybody's taking acid or something. I thought, why don't we try?"

Continue reading »

The Flaming Lips’ latest comes embedded in a gummy skull. How does that happen? [Updated]


Over the last three decades, Oklahoma City rock band the Flaming Lips has not only created a vast body of work that includes classic albums such as “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” and “The Soft Bulletin,” but it has pushed at the edges of the concert experience through a number of wildly imaginative pieces.

Masterminds Wayne Coyne and Michael Ivins have performed boombox symphonies in which the audience becomes members of the orchestra and “plays” cassette stereos while the band conducts; they’ve done shows in which ancillary musical arrangements were broadcast via FM transmitter to the audience members’ headphones. Their four-CD release Zaireeka requires that all the discs be played simultaneously. And on Tuesday and Wednesday, the band performs at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, where it will take over the Hollywood burial grounds for two nights of concerts and multiple performance pieces.

The Flaming Lips latest release is perhaps its most unique yet: a gummy skull featuring new music embedded on a miniature drive entombed in the center. Fans wanting to hear the music will have to eat their way to it. Recently, Coyne explained the genesis of the idea on the phone from Oklahoma City.

The genesis of the skull: Every other month we're doing a big, elaborate 12-inch vinyl release, and then in between, every other month is going to be this other Flaming Lips object. The only one we've done so far is the gummy skull.

Search for the sculptor: In the beginning, the possibilities are endless, but then, little by little, you stumble across these ideas and you hope that they could work. Luckily, we ran into this guy while searching for bubble gum manufacturers. In the beginning we were going to make the skull out of bubble gum — a skull that you chewed into to get the USB [drive] out. But we couldn't find a bubble gum place to do it.

Continue reading »

Hollywood Forever comes alive with music

From the Fairbanks Lawn to its Masonic Lodge, the cemetery has become a unique concert venue.


Never mind the more than slightly macabre fact that it's home to a hundreds of buried remains. Never mind that many of these graves host the bones of Tinseltown legends such as Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks and Cecil B. DeMille, as well as musicians Art Pepper, Woody Herman and two members of the Ramones. And never mind that partying in the cemetery is a pastime usually relegated to teenage Goths and metal-heads.

Hollywood Forever, the 62-acre, 113-year-old graveyard abutting the Paramount Pictures lot, has unexpectedly become one of L.A.'s most beloved entertainment venues.

Thanks in part to archivist John Wyatt, who founded Hollywood Forever's' film series "Cinespia" 10 years ago, the cemetery now hosts thousands of people each summer for its outdoor weekend movie screenings. For several months, huge crowds gather on the wide spread of grass beside Fairbanks' tomb to listen to DJ sets, eat picnic dinners and enjoy such flicks as "Pee-wee's Big Adventure," "Dazed and Confused" and "Easy Rider."

RELATED: Summer concert preview: A selective list of the season's must-see shows

Increasingly, though, the cemetery is opening its gates to welcome musical acts into the same magical atmosphere, both outside on the lush green lawn and inside the grounds' elegant Masonic Lodge. Over the last few years, artists including Bon Iver, Belle & Sebastian, Hope Sandoval, the Swell Season, Broken Social Scene and others have played among the dead.

This summer, Troubadour booking agent Brian Smith and Hollywood Forever's Jay Boileau continue to combine forces to unleash a 2011 performance schedule that highlights the cemetery as one of America's unique concert venues.

"I presented Hollywood Forever's dream artists to Brian at the very beginning, when we first decided we were ready to do music at the cemetery," Boileau says.

"It is true collaboration," Smith adds. "My background is booking the artist and the work relating to them. Jay is very good at getting the details right. He has his eye on getting the highest-quality audio and production for the shows. We both work together on the creative details outside of simply putting on a concert."

The result of their efforts is a series of shows perfectly suited to each of the venue's unique spaces, such as the lush experimental pop of the Flaming Lips out on the Fairbanks Lawn or the raw energy of Appalachian folk singer Marideth Sisco inside the austere confines of the Masonic Lodge. Sisco is performing in Los Angeles for the first time and will be part of an evening with the other musical contributors to the soundtrack for the Oscar-nominated film " Winter's Bone."

Continue reading »

Flaming Lips book a Hollywood Forever plot for June concerts


The Flaming Lips didn't really perform a proper Los Angeles date for late 2009 double-album "Embryonic," but this summer the Oklahoma City weirdos will give L.A. denizens two nights of music, essentially taking over the Hollywood Forever Cemetary on June 15 and 16. The first night will see the Lips tackling their 1999 album "The Soft Bulletin," which essentially redefined the psychedelic rockers as a more orchestral-friendly band.

The news was revealed via a tweet from Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne. The mid-June dates are confirmed, but on-sale information and further details have not been released. For instance, the poster teases some kind of all-day or all-night Flaming Lips activity, noting the event is "two nights, one morning." The second night of the Flaming Lips' cemetery stay will be a cover of "The Dark Side of the Moon," which the Lips have regularly taken on the festival circuit of late (the band will also perform it at a three-day Chicago festival in May).

Continue reading »

Flaming Lips bring 'Embyronic's' rock 'n' roll edge to Hollywood


The Flaming Lips' brief appearance in Hollywood on Thursday night was almost more notable for what was missing than what transpired.

Gone were the confetti machines, and nowhere on stage was anyone dressed as Santa Claus. Giant metallic spaceships didn’t descend from the ceiling, and if fake blood and puppets were present, they stayed safely tucked away backstage.

Also gone was the Flaming Lips’ more recent electronic-laced pop songs. Performing a mini-set at the Ricardo Montalbán Theater, the Flaming Lips were plugged-in, but considering this is a band whose lead singer generally walks across the crowd in a giant bubble, the set was downright stripped-down.

Yet none of the trappings were missed. Initial reviews of the band's “Embryonic,” which was released this week, may have been mixed, but performing a handful of the songs live on Thursday night at a free promotional concert, the Flaming Lips proved that a return to harder-edged, guitar-driven soundscapes can make for riveting drama, even if the double-LP, 18-track “Embryonic” doesn’t necessarily have a song ready for a car commercial.

Set-opener “Convinced of the Hex” put the band immediately on the assault. Stephen Drozd’s guitar wasn’t used for riffs; instead, the instrument was sending out distress calls. Paranoia already reigned by the time leader Wayne Coyne took to the microphone. “She talks to the ceiling,” he sang, just as drummer Kliph Scurlock and bassist Michael Ivins locked into a militant groove.

It’s harsher than the hand-clap beat of 2006's “The W.A.N.D.,” and significantly removed from the snyth-pop orchestra of the hit “Do You Realize??” Yet it’s filled with more tension than any other cut in the Flaming Lips’ recent songbook, building with precision-like force to a grand finale in which Coyne was smattering maracas on the stage floor.

“When we decided we were going to make a double record, we knew we were going to do this self-indulgent thing, and it truly was us putting aside our experience and our discipline and our second guessing and our craft,” Coyne told Pop & Hiss in a pre-show conversation. “We should just be weirdo musicians, and see what happens. My fear was that you do that, and you sound like the idiot you know you are, so you try it the other way. But I think we just got lucky.”

Continue reading »

Album review: The Flaming Lips' 'Embryonic'

FLAMING_LIPS_240_ "People are evil, it's true," sings Wayne Coyne on the new album by his long-running Oklahoma psych-rock outfit, the Flaming Lips. That kind of observation is typical of Coyne, who in the Lips' 2002 hit "Do You Realize??" wondered if we were aware that "everyone you know someday will die."

Yet since the band's mid-'90s breakthrough (when it famously performed "She Don't Use Jelly" on "Beverly Hills, 90210"), Coyne's bad vibes have come coated in candy. Albums such as "The Soft Bulletin" and "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" had heart-swelling melodies by the dozen, while each of the Lips' live shows featured more confetti than a 6-year-old's birthday party.

The effect was not unlike a kindly grandfather filling in his grandson on the injustices of the world -- alarming but ultimately reassuring.

There's no such sweetening on "Embryonic," which finds Coyne and his bandmates stripping down their warm-and-fuzzy sound to its cold, hard essentials: synths, guitars, bass and lots and lots of drums. At times the result is bracing. "Silver Trembling Hands" toggles between an ominous space-punk verse and a lush R&B chorus; "I Can Be a Frog" features appealingly goofy animal noises from Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs; "Convinced of the Hex" works up to a clattering jazz-rock climax that suggests Pink Floyd covering Miles Davis' "Bitches Brew."

In these cuts the Lips offer proof after 2006's ho-hum "At War With the Mystics" that they haven't lost their edge. At 18 tracks, though, "Embryonic" includes an awful lot of filler, much of it of the meandering-soundscape variety. That stuff isn't depressing -- it's just boring.

-- Mikael Wood

Flaming Lips
(Warner Bros.)
Two and a half stars (Out of four)



Recommended on Facebook

In Case You Missed It...


Recent Posts

Tweets and retweets from L.A. Times staff writers.



Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: