Results for The Flaming Lips

interviews

The Flaming Lips

This week's guests are two of the members of Oklahoma's Flaming Lips, co-founder Wayne Coyne and long-time member, multi instrumentalist and co-songwriter Steve Drozd. Wayne chimes in that their two other current band members, Michael Ivins and touring drummer Clifford, couldn‘t make it to the interview. Ivins was too preoccupied erecting the UFO for that night’s live gig in Chicago. Greg points out that Wayne at one time admitted he was part of a band that couldn‘t play, had a singer that couldn’t sing, and heralded from an unknown town. Yet, here they are 25 years later, still going strong. As someone who wrote a book about The Flaming Lips. Jim continues to be astounded by the extensiveness of their career. He feels it parallels the career of Pink Floyd who had at least four different incarnations over 30 or 40 years. The Lips' first era was their '80s psychedelic era with it's key album In a Priest Driven Ambulance from 1990. On this album, former Lips drummer Jonathan Donahue replaced Nathan Roberts and the band collaborated for the first time with producer Dave Fridmann. Fridmann, who would go on produce many other Lips‘ albums, brought a higher level of musicality and production to the Lips’ sound. In a Priest Driven Ambulance was also the album that introduced Steve Drozd to the Flaming Lips (he did not join the band until almost a decade into the band's career). Drozd loved the album's“loud psychedelic rock guitar”with "hokum balladry". Greg also adds that the record contained a non-ironic cover of Louis Armstrong's "It's a Wonderful World" amidst the cynical and cooler-than-thou indie rock community.

Even though the band started in 1983, it wasn't until 1992 that The Flaming Lips signed to a major label. The first album for Warner Brothers Records was Hit to Death in the Future Head. Wayne and the band saw this as an opportunity to make a record that's worth the“billion dollars”major labels can spend on albums. Greg feels that their new ambition really exceeded the ambition they had with their previous work. He feels it's clearly evident in 1993's Transmissions from the Satellite Heart. To Jim this album marks the moment when Wayne's songwriting started to rise from the background and move towards the caliber of the Lips' sonic density. Transmission from the Satellite Heart's, "She Don't Use Jelly" is such an example. Even though the song became their breakthrough“wiggy, novelty hit.”it was a "beautiful bubble gum song with a poignant lyric" wrapped inside an amazing musical production. Wayne and the band knew almost from the beginning that the song could be a hit. The song's hook was created from the lyrics which Wayne got from equating smearing chapstick on your lips to buttering your toast. Wayne's story dispels the rock critic myth that these lyrics were a code for sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. Greg brings everyone back to the dense sound of Transmissions From the Satellite Heart. He wonders how Steven came upon the idea layering the heavy“Bonham-esque”drums underneath pop songs. Steven admits that the sound was inspired by Larry Mullen's drums on U2's War.

Greg wonders if the band's next transformation happened after guitarist Ronald Jones left the band in 1996. Wayne agrees that Ronald's leaving changed the band. Although, Steve adds that he himself was burnt out and heavily into drugs at the time. At this point the Lips re-tooled into the era of their parking lot experiments, boom box experiments and the 1997 release of the four-CD album Zaireeka — an album designed for the listener play all four CD's simultaneously on four different sound systems in the same room. Each project was an orchestration of random sounds, a symphony of noise. Wayne wanted to try something new and take a chance.

After the band went through their two year sonic experiment they released the album The Soft Bulletin in 1999, which Jim considers a pop masterpiece. Wayne thinks the signature song from that album is "Race For the Prize". The song is in reference to two scientists fighting to cure a disease. Also on the album is "Waitin' for a Superman," inspired by Wayne and his brother jogging around the lake to deal with their father's bout with cancer. These two songs are full of meaningful and heartstung lyrics. Jim pipes in that that Wayne wouldn‘t have been able to write lyrics like this earlier in the Lip’s career. Wayne chalks it up to the experience of life changing you, which changed him and the band for the better.

2002's Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots is a continuation of the band's lyrical progression, especially with its song "Do You Realize??" Another key song is "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1." (You can hear their live performance here.)

The critical response to these last two albums was, as Jim puts it,“nothing short of ecstatic.”The latest album, 2006's At War With the Mystics hasn‘t seen the same response (including from our own Greg Kot.) Steve and Wayne kind of expected it. They’re just as happy to win a Grammy for a song titled, "The Wizard Turns On…The Giant Silver Flashlight And Puts On His Werewolf Moccasins."

Go to episode 94

Yoko Ono

This week Jim and Greg welcome music legend Yoko Ono. While many know her simply as John Lennon's widow, Yoko is also an accomplished artist in her own right. Since coming into the spotlight, Yoko has often been reviled her for her radical views and radical music (and for "breaking up the greatest pop group in the world"), but she recently found a new role as a heroine in the indie rock underground. A new generation of musicians who didn't grow up with the same kind of reverence for The Beatles have claimed Yoko as their own. This was especially evident at the Pitchfork Music Festival, where she headlined Saturday's show. Yoko not only played to an audience of thousands people — young and old — but she invited Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore and Cat Power's Chan Marshall on stage with her to perform.

Recently Yoko has been busy working on some new albums. The first is Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur, which features two discs of artists covering songs by John Lennon. She's also released a couple of disc of her own work. Yes, I'm a Witch is a collection of remixes of Yoko's songs by artists such as Peaches, Le Tigre and The Flaming Lips. This was followed by Open Your Box, a collection of dance remixes. The title is a testament to the artist's strong will. It stems from her song "I'm a Witch," which she was reluctant to officially release when she penned it years ago. She explains to Jim and Greg that it wasn‘t as acceptable at the time to come out with such strong lyrics. But, it’s much easier in 2007 to proclaim yourself a bitch.

John and Yoko both influenced each other's music greatly. Greg explains that Yoko's collaboration with her husband brought out the“beast”in him as a guitar player But, Greg wanted to know what Yoko first thought of John's“simple”pop songs considering how avant-garde her compositions were. Yoko explains that she actually found that approach quite refreshing. He helped her to understand how beautiful even the most simple, fun songs can be.

It would be unfair to categorize Yoko strictly as avant-garde. In addition to influencing John's undoubtedly mainstream music, she's also influenced contemporary bands like Cibo Matto and Deerhoof. Jim and Greg talk to the artist about hearing elements of the song "Why" in The B52s' pop hit "Rock Lobster." Yoko explains that she never looked at this as any kind of vindication, but that John actually found great joy in hearing "Rock Lobster" for the first time.

Go to episode 86

Spoon

In nearly 20 years, Spoon has managed to release 8 albums, all of them worth a listen, according to Jim and Greg. That is no small feat. Their latest, They Want My Soul, is a real expansion of their sound, from minimal post punk to a more grown-up soul. Lead singer Britt Daniel and drummer Jim Eno founded the band in 1993 in Austin, and they talk with Jim and Greg about how they have stayed relevant for so long, working with producer Dave Fridmann (The Flaming Lips, Low) and calling back to "Jonathan Fisk."

Go to episode 476

Tame Impala

Australian psychedelic band Tame Impala made a huge impact on the US with their 2012 album Lonerism. Jim and Greg were particularly smitten with it, as the album took top slots on both critics' Best of 2012 lists. Tame Impala stopped by our studios in 2013 for an interview and live performance. This week we're revisiting that conversation, just in time for the release of the band's new record Currents. Lead singer Kevin Parker talks about the band's influences, both expected (The Flaming Lips) and not (Supertramp), and his desire to work with producer Dave Fridmann. The musicians also debate whether actual psychedelic substances contribute to a psychedelic sound. Certainly you don't need them to enjoy the result.

Go to episode 503

Tame Impala

Last year Lonerism took top slots on both Jim and Greg's Best of 2012 lists. Now we've got Tame Impala performing those new psychedelic classics live in our studio! And along the way, lead singer Kevin Parker talks about the band's influences, both expected (The Flaming Lips) and not (Supertramp), and his desire to work with producer Dave Fridmann. The Australian musicians also debate whether actual psychedelic substances contribute to a psychedelic sound. Certainly you don't need them to enjoy the result.

Go to episode 389

Top Albums of 2005

The“Best Records”list: It's“a sacred thing”in pop music fandom, says Jim, requiring a discerning ear and laser-like focus. Thankfully, our hosts are here to help. After sifting through hundreds of records, and countless days spent listening (perhaps to the discontent of their wives), they‘ve managed to pick out their absolute favorites. Here’s what Jim and Greg say they'll still be listening to in 2006.

Go to episode 2
specials

Desert Island Jukebox

Frequently at the end of Sound Opinions, Jim and Greg add songs to the Desert Island Jukebox. This jukebox is filled with tracks that Jim and Greg would take with them if stranded on a desert island. They‘ve posed this same age-old rock question to many of their guests. In this episode you’ll hear the music that these artists say they can't live without:

  • Saul Williams: James Brown, Live at the Olympia
  • Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand: Leonard Cohen, The Songs of Leonard Cohen
  • Nick McCarthy of Franz Ferdinand: Neil Young, "Ohio"
  • Peaches: Prince, Purple Rain
  • Laurent Brancowitz of Phoenix: Serge Gainsbourg, Histoire de Melody Nelson
  • Thomas Mars of Phoenix: D'Angelo, Voodoo
  • Craig Finn of The Hold Steady: The Replacements, "I Will Dare"
  • Tad Kubler of The Hold Steady: Led Zeppelin, Physical Graffiti
  • Franz Nicolay of The Hold Steady: American Music Club, Mercury
  • Scott Hutchinson of Frightened Rabbit: The Hold Steady, Stay Positive
  • Grant Hutchinson of Frightened Rabbit: Bob Dylan, Planet Waves
  • Wayne Coyne and Steven Drozd of The Flaming Lips: John Lennon, "(Just Like) Starting Over"
Go to episode 213
reviews
EmbryonicEmbryonic available on iTunes

The Flaming Lips Embryonic

The Flaming Lips are back with their 12th album, Embryonic. The band has been around for three decades now, which some people wouldn't expect from a bunch of psychedelic rockers from Oklahoma. Jim, who wrote about the band in his book Staring at Sound: The True Story of Oklahoma's Fabulous Flaming Lips, has been waiting for them to return to their roots. They are rocking out again on Embryonic, and while they've done this sound before, and better, he gives the album a Buy It. Greg agrees that they are moving in the right direction. The fans may wonder where the pop songs are, but he's fascinated to hear them attempt the jazzier material. Greg applauds the ambition, but finds the execution lacking. He gives Embryonic a Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 201
Some Loud ThunderSome Loud Thunder available on iTunes

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah Some Loud Thunder

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah also recently released a new album. Some Loud Thunder is the follow-up to their highly successful self-released and self-titled debut. The band has again released the album on their own and is selling it on their website. This time, however, they got help from producer Dave Fridmann, who is responsible for the studio sound of the Flaming Lips. In fact, Jim explains that Fridmann serves as the Brian Eno to the band's Talking Heads, despite protests from fans who shy away from that comparison. Greg agrees that he definitely hears David Byrne's influence on lead singer Alec Ounsworth. And for the most part, that influence agrees with the critics. There are a number of solid songs on Some Loud Thunder. Some are even poppy and danceable. But, the remainder of the album is just plain difficult to listen to. For that reason Jim and Greg can only give a Burn It rating.

JimGreg
Go to episode 62
At War with the Mystics (Deluxe Version)At War With the Mystics available on iTunes

Flaming Lips At War With the Mystics

Next up is a review of the new Flaming Lips album At War With the Mystics. The Oklahoma band has been around for almost 25 years, and this is their 12th album. The Lips' first big breakthrough came in 1993 with Transmissions from the Satellite Heart. That album was lauded by Jim and Greg at the time, and the single "She Don't Use Jelly" was one of the big alternative hits of the year. Then, in 1999, the band released The Soft Bulletin, which became a huge critical success, and in 2002, the band finally got some commercial recognition with their first Gold album Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. After listening to one of the new songs, "Pompeii am Gotterdammerung" (which gives multi-instrumentalist and musical wizard Steven Drozd his first stab at vocals), Greg gives his review of the album. Jim refrains from offering his review because he feels he is too close to the work. Mr. DeRogatis just released his 5th book, Staring at Sound: The True Story of Oklahoma's Fabulous Flaming Lips, and the journalist in him can‘t give a rating of the record. However, listeners can certainly surmise his opinions after listening to our hosts’ discussion. Greg admits off the bat that he is not blown away. He feels like the band tried to out-gimmick itself, providing the song "Yeah Yeah Yeah" as an example. Greg admits that the songs translate better live, and Jim predicts that come this summer, when the Flaming Lips perform at Lollapalooza, Greg will have to eat his Burn It. We'll just have to wait and see.

JimGreg
Go to episode 19
Oczy MlodyOczy Mlody available on iTunes

The Flaming Lips Oczy Mlody

The fourteenth studio album by The Flaming Lips is titled Oczy Mlody, a Polish phrase meaning“the eyes of the young.”Jim says its a sleepy album, filled with electronic glitchiness and Miley Cyrus cameos, but lacking the tunefulness that once made them a great band. According to Jim, the Lips have spent the last decade churning out product without really spending time crafting their records in the studio. Greg agrees that the songwriting has fallen off on Oczy Mlody. They both give the album a Try It rating, saying it's nowhere in league with the band's best. Jim, as the author of The Flaming Lips' biography, recommends that listeners who have only heard the last decade of Flaming Lips music check out their back catalog, pointing to early masterpieces like 1990's In a Priest Driven Ambulance and Transmissions from the Satellite Heart from 1993.

JimGreg
Go to episode 582
InnerSpeaker (Collector's Edition)Innerspeaker available on iTunes

Tame Impala Innerspeaker

The Psychedelic era might've predated the boys in Tame Impala by about half a century, but it's the major musical influence on this Australian band. The brainchild of Perth's Kevin Parker, Tame Impala was discovered on MySpace. The band's debut, Innerspeaker, was mixed by longtime Flaming Lips producer Dave Fridmann. Fridmann was also on board for the band's latest, Lonerism. As its name suggests, Lonerism is about someone who doesn't fit in. But Greg says Parker cannily avoids solipsism by cloaking his melancholy songs in uplifting (and obsessively detailed) pop production. It's a Buy It record for him. Jim agrees. Tame Impala delivers psychedelic transcendence while remaining Britney Spears-catchy. Lonerism gets an enthusiastic double Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 363
lists

Turkey Shoot

It's Turkey time! Let out all your holiday frustrations on some well-deserving musical turkeys. Here are the albums that most let Jim and Greg down in 2013 as part of our Thanksgiving Turkey Shoot:

Go to episode 416

Thick Listening

Greg and Jim expound on Damon's idea by providing some of their favorite examples of tracks that benefit from Thick Listening.

Go to episode 599

The Best Albums of 2006 (So Far)

While most pop culture mavens wait until the end of the year to tally their favorites, Sound Opinions is so list-crazy, that we've decided to take 2006's half-way mark as an opportunity to take stock. Here are the albums Jim and Greg are loving so far:

Jim DeRogatis:

  1. Gnarls Barkley, St. Elsewhere (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  2. Van Hunt, On the Jungle Floor (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  3. Misson of Burma, The Obliterati (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  4. Wolfmother, Wolfmother (Interscope)
  5. The Bellrays, Have a Little Faith (Cheap Lullaby)
  6. Art Brut, Bang Bang Rock & Roll (Downtown) (hear Jim and Greg's interview with Art Brut)
  7. Belle and Sebastian, The Life Pursuit (Matador) (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  8. Neko Case, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood (Anti) (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  9. Dilated Peoples, 20/20 (Capitol)
  10. Alejandro Escovedo, The Boxing Mirror (Back Porch Records) (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  11. The Flaming Lips, At War with the Mystics (Warner Bros.) (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  12. Grandaddy, Just Like the Fambly Cat (V2) (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  13. Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins, Rabbit Fur Coat (Team Love) (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  14. Prince, 3121 (Universal/Motown) (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  15. The Raconteurs, Broken Boy Soldiers (V2) (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  16. Secret Machines, Ten Silver Drops (Reprise) (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  17. The Strokes, First Impressions of Earth (RCA) (hear Greg's original review and interview with Julian Casablancas)
  18. The Subways, Young for Eternity (Sire)
  19. Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs, Under the Covers Vol. 1 (Shout Factory)
  20. Neil Young, Living with War (Reprise) (hear Jim and Greg's original review)

Greg Kot (in no particular order):

  1. Art Brut, Bang Bang Rock & Roll (hear Jim and Greg's interview with Art Brut)
  2. Love is All, Nine Times That Same Song
  3. Ghostface Killah, Fishscale (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  4. Neil Young, Living With War (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  5. Dirty on Purpose, Hallelujah Sirens
  6. Parts and Labor, Stay Afraid
  7. Alejandro Escovedo, The Boxing Mirror (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  8. Mission of Burma, The Obliterati (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  9. Gnarls Barkley, St. Elsewhere (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  10. Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins, Rabbit Furcoat (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  11. Neko Case, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  12. Anthony Hamilton, Ain‘t Nobody Worryin’ (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  13. Mary J. Blige, The Breakthrough (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  14. Midlake, The Trials of Van Occupanther
  15. Van Hunt, On the Jungle Floor (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
Go to episode 31

Songs About Work

Despite the fact that most musicians spend their lives avoiding a“real job,”there are a number of great songs about the drudgery and the glory of hard work. During this Labor Day episode Jim and Greg play their favorite Songs About Work.

Go to episode 301

Rock's Best Lead-Off Tracks

This week's show is dedicated to the true rock geeks out there. Continuing in the tradition of "Track 1, Side 1" Jim and Greg take the discussion into the post-vinyl age. What songs best kick-off an album? Here are their picks for the best Lead-Off Tracks of all time:

Go to episode 92

Best Albums of 2009

Go to episode 211

Work Songs

Despite the fact that most musicians spend their lives avoiding a“real job,”there are a number of great songs about the drudgery and the glory of hard work. For this Labor Day episode Jim and Greg play their favorite Songs About Work.

Lou Reed

Go to episode 197

The Best Songs of the Millennium - Mixtapes

Jim and Greg like to end every year with a good old-fashioned mixtape (presented as a new-fashioned mp3 stream). But this year they decided to go even further and compile their favorite songs of the entire decade. They pick highlights to play during this episode, and their entire playlists are below. You can also stream their full mixtapes:

Go to episode 214
rock doctors

Joel

At this point in the show Jim and Greg put on their lab coats and welcome another patient for an appointment with the Rock Doctors. This week's patient is listener Joel from Chicago. Joel describes his symptoms for Drs. DeRogatis and Kot: he's a big music fan, particularly roots rock, but hasn‘t been inspired in recent years. He’s hoping the doctors can prescribe some new music that has a definite sense of blues, bluegrass and roots music, but also has some rocking edge.

Dr. DeRogatis goes first and prescribes Sparklehorse's 2006 album Dreamt For Light Years In The Belly Of A Mountain. The group is led by multi-instrumentalist Mark Linkous who has been paralyzed since 1996. Jim explains that Linkous‘ sound changed dramatically after being confined to a wheelchair. There’s a definite influence of alt-country and Southern gothic that Jim thinks Joel will appreciate. Plus, this album features some impressive guests like Steven Drozd of The Flaming Lips and Tom Waits.

Dr. Kot recommends the new album from The Kills. The transcontinental duo met via the mail and have made three albums. Greg thinks the latest, Midnight Boom, is the best. He describes the band's sexy, in-your-face attitude and deep appreciation for the blues. Greg just hopes that Joel doesn't have an allergic reaction to their drum machine.

After a week taking his medicine, Joel returns for a follow-up appointment. He explains that the heavy production in the Sparklehorse initially put him off. But despite the fact that the music was a little slow at times, he can see himself returning to it. Joel describes Dr. Kot's pick as some strong medicine, but he really enjoyed The Kills' melodies and guitars. He thinks the album is at its best when the two singers are featured together, and was able to forget about the drum machine for the most part.

Go to episode 128
news

Music News

After much controversy, Oklahoma has finally declared a new state song: "Do You Realize??" by The Flaming Lips. The native sons have always been proud Sooners, but their politics often go against the state's grain. After the people and the Senate approved this choice, conservatives in the House rejected the song. Despite this, Governor Brad Henry has signed an executive order naming“Do You Realize??”the official state rock song. Sometimes democracy does pay off.

It's easy to assume that rock stars are immune to the current economic crisis, but a recent UK survey shows that artists there have taken some big hits. Elton John's personal wealth fell by more than 25%. So the "Rocket Man" is going to have to get by on merely $256.8 million. Paul McCartney's wealth fell 12% bringing his fortune to only $88 million. And Mick Jagger fared even worse. He took a 16% hit and now only has $278 million to live off of. Jim and Greg hope these musicians know how to make Ramen.

Go to episode 179

Music News

Songwriter George David Weiss died this week at age 89. He's behind some of music's most iconic tunes including "Can't Help Falling In Love," "What a Wonderful World" and "The Lion Sleeps Tonight."

There was actually some controversy surrounding who actually wrote“The Lion Sleeps Tonight,”and Weiss would go on to tackle some of these ownership issues as the president of the Songwriters Guild of America. Jim thinks a great way to remember this“old-school”talent is by listening to The Flaming Lips' completely un-ironic version of "What a Wonderful World."

Go to episode 248

Music News

Jim and Greg begin the show with a discussion of Lollapalooza and other summer festivals. There's Coachella in California and Bonnaroo in Tennessee, but Chicago is shaping up to be the major destination for music fans this year. The Lollapalooza lineup is impressive, with a diverse mix of bands including Lolla vets The Flaming Lips and Red Hot Chili Peppers, indie favorites Death Cab for Cutie and The Shins, and Chicago natives Wilco and Kanye West. Plus, the city will be home to two of the biggest independent music festivals: The Pitchfork Music Festival, featuring Destroyer, Art Brut, Spoon and post-punk pioneers Mission of Burma, and the Intonation Music Festival featuring The Streets, Bloc Party, Lupe Fiasco and a rare appearance by 13th Floor Elevators founder Roky Erickson.

Go to episode 21

Music News

It's been a rough week for digital music. First Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke and producer Nigel Godrich openly criticize Spotify and boot Atoms for Peace songs from the streaming service. The, the Musicians' Union in the U.K. threaten a boycott if Spotify doesn't raise its royalty rates. And now Aimee Mann is suing MediaNet, which provides millions of songs to dozens of music services. She's seeking damages for "willful copyright infringement."

Sure, we could imagine Bono going for an “EGOT,” but "Commander"? The Irish rocker was recently awarded the country's highest cultural honor: Commander of Arts and Letters in recognition of his contributions to the arts and to charity. Rapper Nas was also given an unusual honor. Harvard University has established the Nasir Jones Hip-Hop Fellowship as part of its Hip-Hop Archive and W.E.B. Du Bois Institute.

Since its launch in 2008, Record Store Day has become something music fans eagerly anticipate. And now they'll also have…wait for it…Cassette Store Day! True, there aren't many stores that solely sell cassettes, but on September 7, a number of bands will release special cassettes and artists like The Flaming Lips, Deerhunter and At the Drive-In will reissue albums on cassettes. So breakout your Walkman and get ready.

Go to episode 400