Cyrus guests on Oczy Mlody‘s closing track “We A Family,” following up on 2015’s Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz as well as the Lips’ With A Little Help From My Fwends, a guest-filled 2014 reimagining of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Coyne, meanwhile, predicts that Dead Petz will rise again, possibly in the near future, and leaves the door open for other projects to stem from the association.
“We already have a couple of things that are going to be fucking cool,” Coyne tells Billboard. “I think [Cyrus] and us, as the Flaming Lips, we like the idea that we don’t really know what we’re going to do. A lot of it will depend on what happens when we’re together and the vibe of what she wants to do. Does she want to make a big, commercial record, or just a weird record? We don’t ever really know. We just start making music that we like and include her on it, and it starts to grow.
“I love working with her, just ’cause she’s badass. The more we do it the more we like it, and the easier it gets. And we really do love the way she sings; Man, she can fucking sing.”
“We A Family” was the first original song the Lips presented to Cyrus, who at the time was on the South American leg of her Bangerz World Tour almost three years ago. “It sounded a little different, a lot slower. It didn’t have the little hook that’s on it now,” Coyne recalls. “She sang a little demo of it. A good bit of the vocal you hear on the track is from that very first take she did the very first time she heard it. Through the marvels of technology now you can speed up and slow down and change things without really damaging the quality of the recording that she’d done. It took us a few times before we knew we were going with it. We finally took it to (co-producer) Dave Fridmann; He said, ‘No wonder nobody likes it. It’s too fucking slow!’ so we spend it up and there you go.”
Oczy Mlody takes its title from a phrase in a Polish translation of the Erskine Caldwell novel Close To Home. “Steven [Drozd] found that little group of words was in a sentence in this little paperback we had, and I think it sounded to him like some fun drug they’ll make in the future or something,” Coyne says with a laugh. “It turned out that this funny little phrase actually meant ‘eyes of the young,’ which we really liked. You always hope there’s some little identity that starts to happen, on its own. That [phrase] definitely helped us here.” The result, meanwhile, is also more song-oriented than immediate predecessors such as 2013’s The Terror and 2009’s Embryonic.
“Steve and I struggle a lot to make [an album] sound like ‘This is of a piece. This is of a mood, a mind,’ because we like records like that — like Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon or Miles Davis’ Sketches Of Spain,” Coyne explains. “On the past couple of records we made some effort to say, ‘Man, I really like this mood’ and try to push it into one area more than another. This time we just worked on whatever songs we stumbled upon and then put them together into this album. I think it’s still cohesive, like we like, but sometimes it’s so much more fun just to make some cool-sounding music and see what that evokes.”
The Lips start a world tour to promote Oczy Mlody on Jan. 21 in London, with a North American leg beginning March 3 in Boston.