Wayne Coyne Q&A:
He's happy about Oklahoma honor, but sad about Arcade Fire feud
May 1, 2009, 05:25 PM | by Clark Collis
Categories: Arcade Fire, Flaming Lips
Oklahoma rockers/sonic explorers The Flaming Lips are no strangers to weirdness. But even singer Wayne Coyne found the recent controversy over Lips track “Do You Realize?” becoming his state's official rock song a tad off-the-wall. “It was silly,” he tells EW. “People were talking about the fact that I used bad language. I mean, Jesus, I’m not running for office! Last time I checked, a guy in a rock band is allowed to cuss if he wants to.”
The saga began last year when folks in Oklahoma voted on what song they wanted to become their official rock anthem, and an overwhelming number plumped for “Do You Realize?” On March 2, the Flaming Lips visited the Oklahoma Senate to see that body passed the appropriate resolution. But the measure subsequently failed to get the necessary amount of support in the House of Representatives after some Republican members objected to Coyne’s potty-mouth and bassist Michael Ivins having worn a hammer and sickle t-shirt during his Senate visit.
Finally, Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry signed an executive order making “Do You Realize?” the state rock song, and did so this Tuesday at a ceremony attended by Coyne, drummer-guitarist Steven Drozd and Ivins (who sported a Ghostbusters t-shirt for the occasion). Meanwhile, Coyne instigated an unlikely feud with the Arcade Fire when he told a Rolling Stone journalist that he thought the Canadian band were “pr---s” who "treated the audience like s---.” Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler later responded on his band’s website with a message in which he hoped that he was less of "pr---" than someone who would criticize people he didn't know.
After the jump, Coyne talks about the state-song brouhaha, the Arcade Fire imbroglio, and why you should seriously consider purchasing Steven Drozd's house.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Congratulations on “Do You Realize?” becoming, finally, Oklahoma’s official rock song!
WAYNE COYNE: Well, thank you. It’s not been without it’s ups and downs.
You can’t have imagined it would become such a controversy.
No. Last month, when the first vote happened, it seemed fairly standard. Don’t get me wrong, it was absurd even then. We went to the Senate chamber and I think they were talking about stem cells. And they stopped everything and said, “We’ve got some special guests in the chamber here. Everybody welcome the Flaming Lips!” The whole thing just stopped for an hour and they voted on this thing. I figured, well, we won the vote and that’s the end of it. But, as we clearly know now, there was another vote.
At which both yourself and Michael Ivins were criticized.
I thought it was a joke. I thought, they’re really not complaining about Michael’s t-shirt! I mean, there’s plenty of things they could have complained about. They could have said, “Hey, Wayne wrote a song back in 1986 called “Jesus Shooting Heroin”! They could have said, “His Christmas on Mars movie has a marching band with giant vaginal genitals for heads.”
But you won in the end. What was the official ceremony on Tuesday like?
It was cool, uncomfortable, weird. All the things that you think talking to governors would be. I mean, he’s a very cool guy. But it is another world for me. And he declared it Flaming Lips day as part of the ceremony, which we didn’t know was going to happen.
Did any special privileges come with that? Were you allowed to molest a goat or something?
I asked the governor while we there: “Can I just go to a restaurant and get a meal for free?” I don’t think anyone really had an answer. I didn’t suggest molesting a goat.
Did the Arcade Fire send a congratulatory telegram?
[Laughs] They didn’t. I wish that had never happened. I didn’t necessarily mean it about the people in the Arcade Fire. I meant it about the guys that were running their stages at a couple of festivals. I wish whatever had been said wouldn’t have been taken as such a defiant statement from the Flaming Lips, because it wasn’t. I just assumed [their response] was a joke.
Really? He seemed pretty annoyed to me.
I can totally see that now.
Would you care to apologize to them now?
I would. I really feel bad about it. I like enough of their music. The idea that I’m somehow against them… I’m not!
What’s the word on the new album? Last time we spoke you said you’d been working on some material that sounded like “John Lennon meets Miles Davis and they discover some supercomputer from the future.”
I think we’ve stayed true to that. Some of it reminds me a lot of the “Bitches Brew” period when Chick Corea and John McLaughlin and that series of more freaky electronic players were all having their heyday with Miles Davis. I wouldn’t say it sounds like jazz, but it sounds freaky and unrestricted. We had initially thought it would be out maybe in July. But now I think it’ll be more like September. We've got a name: Embryonic. At least that's what we're calling it at the moment. We’ve been recording at Steven’s empty, unsold old house. He put his house up on the market last summer and it’s still empty.
So, if a Flaming Lips fan were to buy Steven’s house next week, would they get the band thrown in as well until you’d finished the album?
We have thought about this. If someone bought it we’d say, "Well, you can’t move in for at least a couple of weeks." People locally do know that we’re recording there. I’ve talked to quite a few musicians who have gone to an open-house day and looked around and said, “Oh, this is where they’re doing their new record.”
Are you recording on open-house days? I always thought the advice for house sellers was to fill the house with the smell of baking bread, not the sound of the Flaming Lips jamming.
No, we stick all the stuff in the garage and it looks like a fairly normal, empty house. There is one room that has recording equipment but I think people just picture their bed and their night dresser being in there. It’s a beautiful house! Even if there’s some leftover junk from our session it would still seem very buyable!