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SPRING MUSIC Wayne's world: Talking with The Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times

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Rock band The Flaming Lips seems to never conform to the norm.

The act formed in Oklahoma in 1983, with brothers Wayne and Mark Coyne as well as Michael Ivins. After Mark left the band, Wayne took up vocal duties. Warner Bros. Records signed them, with the band releasing several hit singles such as "She Don't Use Jelly" and "Do You Realize??"

The Lips' latest record, Oczy Mlody, continues the tradition of not being commercial. It brings the group back out on the road to feature its quirky live act—sometimes composed of costumes, confetti and video projections. The band actually broke Jay-Z's Guinness World Record for the most live concerts in 24 hours, with eight shows in two days in 2012.

Windy City Times: Hi, Wayne. I was born in Oklahoma, just like you were. I love that your mom's name is Dolly.

Wayne Coyne: It is short for Dolores, but that is what we called her.

WCT: What inspired The Flaming Lips' sound in the beginning? It must have been radical for Oklahoma.

WC: I didn't realize how insular my surroundings were. My older brothers didn't really listen to music that you would think you would listen to in Oklahoma City. They grew up in the '60s listing to Bob Dylan and The Beatles. I just liked what they liked mostly, because that is what they played around the house.

I never thought there would be a music scene in Oklahoma City. When I was 18, I wanted to be in a music group. At the time there wasn't any bands that I knew of that made original music and records. I was listening to British groups, but did not go to Britain until I was 24 years old.

WCT: How long have you been with this band?

WC: It has been 34 years, as of a few weeks ago. We say it started when we played our first show at a local bar called the Blue Note. That date is on a flyer somewhere, but I am always reminded of it by a fan.

WCT: Have you had any gay band members over the years, with the rotating cast?

WC: No, none that would be 1,000-percent gay. Our second gig though was right around the corner from the Blue Note and it was at a [drag] bar. We asked to play regularly and that lasted about a year. It is insane when you think about what Oklahoma City is and where it is that this would happen. I rememberer that is seemed quite normal to me at the time.

A lot of the people we hung out with in the early days were openly gay. I was lucky. My older brothers were cool and had a slew of different types of friends.

WCT: How did it come together working with Miley Cyrus on the Dead Petz project and on your new album, Oczy Mlody?

WC: She was interested in The Flaming Lips. Once we got together to make music we discovered other things about each other that we liked. My girlfriend, Katy Weaver, and her are best friends. That connection helps the whole thing move along. When Miley is not doing something with The Flaming Lips musically there are lots of other activities that happen.

WCT: Are you riding the inflatable ball into the crowd at the Chicago show?

WC: I call it the space bubble, but, yeah. I do it virtually every night. Funnily enough, in the beginning no venues would allow me to do this, back in 2004, when we first started to do it. It was at a Coachella show back then. I was at a big ballroom theater in London one time and they told me afterwards that they wouldn't have let me do it if they knew ahead of time. I was thinking, "That's exactly why I didn't tell you…"

Now it is a standard with our show. The perception of what is dangerous and allowable has changed.

WCT: With this being your 14th album, what did you learn from past work?

WC: A lot of experiences—even just over the past few years with Miley and her producer Mike Will, and listening to different types of music—helped shape our record.

I think she changed our sound more than we were able to change hers. We have a different way of recording and doing the production. To me, there is a thousand great things always happening in music and art all the time. It does not take a lot to keep me interested and excited.

We don't make an album because we have something new to say. We make music because we love it. We do things that have a character and an identity. We don't have to think about what it is going to be.

The Lips flame on at Riviera Theatre, 4746 N. Racine Ave., on Monday, April 17, at 8 p.m. Visit for more on the band and tour.

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