When the Flaming Lips set out to break Jay-Z's world record for most live concerts in multiple cities in 24 hours as part of MTV's O Music Awards on June 27th, it will probably look like a scene straight out of "The Magical Mystery Tour."
Lips frontman Wayne Coyne tells Billboard that the upcoming eight-city trek across the Mississippi Delta will be a road trip like no other for fans who want to join them on their bus along the way. "We'll play a little blues joint in Mississippi then travel down the road together, stop in a Denny's, have breakfast and two hours later we'll be at a pool party at a Hard Rock Café somewhere and be like, 'Oh my God we did all this in one day.'"
The stunt will also give the band a rare chance to play smaller cities at this stage in their 30-year career. "A lot of people think I'm from [the South], which is not the case; I'm from Oklahoma," he says. "We were through some of those cities going back to the 90s, but it's just not a spot where a group like us would play that often. We would play bigger shows and venues."
This past weekend, the band made another Southern pit stop at Alabama's Hangout Festival, where they performed Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety during the first solar eclipse visible from the United Stats in nearly 18 years. Although the band had intended to play "Eclipse" just as the sun was going down, it didn't quite work out that way -- not that most of the chemically influenced fans took notice. "As the mythology goes, if nobody else knew what was happening your mind tells you those things are real," Coyne joked. "We actually told the crowd that we made the eclipse, we controlled the universe. They loved it."
Look for the Lips to be joined by a few surprise musical guests on their OMA tour next month, perhaps even a visitor or two from their latest project The Flaming Lips And Heady Fwends. Released as a Record Store Day exclusive in April, the album is a compilation of the band's recent collaboration with an eclectic roster that includes Ke$ha, Erykah Badu, Nick Cave, Bon Iver, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Neon Indian, and Coldplay's Chris Martin.
Heady Fwends is also the latest in a series of experimental releases the band has been able to release as part of its renewed relationship with longtime label Warner Bros. A studio version of its take on Dark Side of the Moon was issued in 2010, while an exclusive EP contained inside a candy skull filled with gummy bears was sold at L.A.'s Hollywood Forever last May. Most unique of all was an extremely limited run of 10 vinyl copies of the Heady Fwends record filled with the participants' own blood, sold for $2,500 each.
Coyne describes the Flaming Lips' position within Warner as if it were its own imprint at this point. He was impressed by the relative ease and speed with which it took to approve a limited pressing of Heady Fwends vinyl LPs. "The Record Store Day experience has taught me more about how much we need them -- I don't wanna do it all by myself," he says. "It's like raising 20 kids -- there's a bunch of nannies and changing diapers. I would never want people to think we were trying to get away from Warner Bros. The things they do well with the Flaming Lips have been great. We were trying to get rid of the things that take so long. It used to be I would say, 'I need vinyl in two weeks' and they would say 'That's impossible.' Now I can get it done in 6 days."