The Flaming Lips plan to release a lot of new music during 2011. Just don't expect it to all come out in conventional forms.
In fact, the Oklahoma art rockers plan to make an art out of bringing their fresh material into the world. Already this year the group has released a limited edition EP hand-delivered to record stores by band members and "Two Blobs F**king," the latter via 12 separate parts on YouTube that are meant to be heard together, preferably on iPhones. Next week the group rolls out four songs on a USB drive that's buried inside a brain that's encased in a life-size skull -- all made from seven pounds of Gummi-style candy gelatin.
Also on tap, frontman Wayne Coyne tells Billboard.com, is a working stomp box effects pedal that plays another four songs, as well as old-fashioned flexi-discs that will be distributed on the backs of cereal boxes and in an issue of Mad magazine.
"We've done 14 or so records, and you're always scrambling around trying to do something different," Coyne explains. "Everybody's in the same quagmire now; How do you release music? What would be interesting? I'd just like to release music all the time and just put it out in all kinds of weird formats and not just collect it until we're ready to put out [an album] every two years or so. It's just by luck that we run into people that are willing to help us and... want to do something radical with us."
But, Coyne adds, Flaming Lips will also be making the new songs available via the Internet. "We're not making our music less available," he says. "We want people to have it. And we know that if we put it on iTunes, virtually at the same moment someone will post it and it becomes out there and available virtually for free. But we still want it to be heard."
Coyne says the candy skull idea actually hearkens back to the Flaming Lips' earliest days, when it put a skull on the cover of its self-titled debut EP in 1984. Symbolically, he explains, it speaks to Flaming Lips' new deal with Warner Bros. Records, which has been its home since the early 90s. "It's kind of like, 'Hey, we're our own record company again,' even though we're still with Warner," Coyne says. "We have the freedom to f*** around like this, and that's what [Warner Bros.] wants us to do because they know that's what the Flaming Lips are all about."
And with the group working on new material "constantly," Coyne adds that this year's batch of songs may eventually be packaged into a more conventional kind of album in early 2012 -- although there may be a twist on that, too. "We've had grandiose ideas of putting out life-size, Gummi version of myself, and in the heart would be this giant hard drive with all the music on it that you could just pull out," he says. "We think, 'F***, why not?' I love those kinds of ideas."
Flaming Lips will be playing shows this year as well, including Lollapalooza Chile on Sunday (April 3) in Santiago and the Sasquatch! Music Festival on May 29 in Quincy, Wash., as well as a combination of festivals and its own headlining shows. It plans to play its version of Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" or its own 1999 album "The Soft Bulletin" at some of the dates.
Meanwhile, the Lips are also "in the early stages of production" with director Des McAnuff ("The Who's Tommy," "Jersey Boys") on a theatrical adaptation of 2002's "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots." Coyne expects it to start workshopping soon and to also incorporate songs from "The Soft Bulletin" and 2006's "At War with the Mystics."
"It'll be a big chunk of Flaming Lips music, probably about 30 songs," Coyne reports. "It's a big deal. It's hokey and wonderful and poignant and powerful. It's really become a perfect combination of my fantastical robot-world vision and [McAnuff's] little, internal, humanistic version of what that music is. I really believe it could work -- and luckily I don't have to do much!"