Wayne Coyne and his Flaming Lips bandmates have been told that their upcoming eight-stop, 24-hour road trip — which, if successful, will break a Guinness world record — is crazy. But it’s not like Coyne and company haven’t been told that before.
“You know, I AM a little bit crazy,” Coyne tells Billboard.com. “But we’re the kind of people who think, ‘Would we like to do this? Fuck, that sounds like it would be incredible!’ Then you look a little deeper and go, ‘Oh, no, that sounds like it’s too much. That WOULD be crazy’ — but it’s too late to stop it. We just always go with that very first impression, that ‘Fuck, that sounds like it’s gonna be insane’ and decide we want to do it and go from there.”
The Lips’ stunt — breaking a record set by Jay-Z in 2006 for the most live concerts (seven) in 24 hours — will take place June 27-28, following the release of the group’s new guest-laden album “The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends.” The Lips will start in Memphis’ Handy Park, working their way through Mississippi and into Louisiana before finishing in New Orleans. They’ll play shows with Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, Jackson Browne, Hunter Hayes, Grimes, Gary Clark, Jr., and others, and the group will be followed to every stop by about 300 fans.
The event will also be chronicled as part of the O Music Awards, a 24-hour streaming ceremony from the Viacom Music Group.
“It seems very possible we could get the world record — which I’m not even that interested in,” Coyne says. “But I think we’ve turned it into this… very interesting bunch of things for the Flaming LIps to do, to play with a bunch of our friends, play with a bunch of weird artists and for our audience who will be in tow with us. I think it will be a great, strange day that will go down in Flaming Lips history. And now that we’re in it and starting to realize what it’s all about, we’ll probably do days like this every year and just go to some very strange part of the world and do something that seems absurd and IS absurd. It makes life interesting, right.”
The trek is part of what Coyne termed an “experimental” period for the Lips, which has already seen a series of unconventional releases including limited edition EPs, compositions divided into separate YouTube parts that are meant to be heard together, a six-hour song, vinyl colored with real blood and songs on a USB drive buried inside a life-sized skull made of Gummi-style candy gelatin. The “Heady Fwends” album — which features the Lips working with Ke$ha, Bon Iver, Coldplay‘s Chris Martin, Yoko Ono, My Morning Jacket‘s Jim James, Erykah Badu and others — even started life as a Record Store Day exclusive vinyl set before the band decided on a wider release.
“We’re not playing it safe,” Coyne explains. “A year ago I would’ve never thought I’d have worked with Bon Iver, Ke$ha and Erykah Badu all in the same week. I would’ve thought, ‘No, that’s too much,’ but by the time it happened it was like, ‘Bring it on!’ You don’t sleep much and get on with it.” The Lips are also planning to make more videos from “Heady Fwends” to follow the clip of the Badu-featuring “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.” And, Coyne says, another new studio album is in the works that may well be out before the end of year or, if not, in early 2013.
“It’s going to be a great, very strange, beautiful, emotional record,” Coyne says. “It’s music that was kind of happening by accident while we were making this ‘Heady Fwends’ record; in-between those (songs) we would secretly be making music we didn’t know we were making, and later we would hear these little pieces of music and be like, ‘What is that? That’s cool. Who is that?’ ‘It’s us.’ ‘It’s us?! Really?’ and we’d collect things and put them together.” Coyne predicts that the resulting nine-song, 52-minute set “could be the best Flaming Lips record we’ve ever made.”