(Photo by Erika Goldring/WireImage/Getty Images)
There's a lot going on for The Flaming Lips right now. With the release of his band’s 19-track early recordings Scratching the Door: The First Recordings Of The Flaming Lips out, and their epic six-disc box set Seeing The Unseeable: The Complete Studio Recordings Of The Flaming Lips 1986-1990 out on June 29, plus a Greatest Hits collection on June 1, available to pre-order here.
We look at the moments that have made frontman Wayne Coyne one of the most interesting figures in pop culture.
Their biggest hit is nonsense
Amid the alt-rock explosion in the mid ’90s, “She Don’t Use Jelly” didn’t seem that odd at the time. But the song, in which Coyne sings about a girl who thinks of ghosts and puts Vaseline on her toast, a guy who goes to gigs and uses magazines to blow his nose, and another girl who makes her hair orange not with dye but tangerines, is a wonderful oddity that showcased Coyne’s rather unique outlook early on. The frontman says of the 1993 track, which remains their biggest radio hit, “The song came to me very quickly, and I thought it was sort of funny.”
Having an outdoor bath on Google Maps Street View
While it’s no surprise for the Street View camera to document some weird happenings, Coyne sitting in a tub in front of a Blob In The Bath sign in his Oklahoma City yard is one of the real Easter eggs to be found. It’s said the bath, snapped here in 2010, had been set up by then-wife Michelle for a 2007 Halloween party. Coyne’s house did in fact have an indoor bath - the house had been likened to the Batcave, presenting a modest front but inside being an impressive feat of modern architecture and sustainability. He’s described it as a hippie compound made up of four living spaces.
He’s a friend of strays
Coyne has long been known for his love of helping out abandoned and street animals in Oklahoma City, and he said they’re by far his favourite thing to “collect”. “If I could, I’d collect all the dogs and cats in my neighborhood,” he said in 2011. “Right now we have one little dog inside, a stray dog outside. We have two peacocks and one cat. There are also roosters and other things everywhere.” He’s also says of his 30-plus years of helping strays, “I do so much for animals, because people treat them so horribly.”
He’s been a mad genius with release formats
Perhaps the strangest yet somehow most impressive Flaming Lips release was a 2011 limited-edition Record Store Day set, loaded onto a USB flash drive and hidden inside a 3kg skull made of gelatinous candy. Yep, the inventive take on the gummy bear, which cost super-fans close to $200 and sold out instantly, was simply Coyne giving back to his audience what they give to him. And no, not a cavity-inducing amount of sweets. “Everything we do tells the audience, ‘We love you.’ The money that listeners spend goes back into us making all these things. You could easily say that money feeds all of this exploding, uncertain creativity,” he said at the time.
Also it being cut open:
He holds the Guinness World Record for most shows played in 24 hours
Sure, eight shows in 24 hours may not seem like a lot - but the Flaming Lips did these across pre-approved Guinness World Records cities, starting in Memphis Tennessee and ending in New Orleans, Louisiana. The eight shows across the Mississippi Delta in 2012 beat Jay Z’s 2006 record by 20 minutes, and Coyne boasted that they could have kept going. “As the day went, everywhere we would go they'd give us energy - now I feel I could go another 24 hours,” he said at the time.
He has matching tattoos with Miles Cyrus of her late dog Floyd
In 2014, Coyne, his girlfriend Katy Weaver and pop star Miley Cyrus got matching tattoos featuring the songstress’s pooch Floyd, who’d died from a suspected coyote attack. He also included serveral cover-song tributes to Floyd in the Flaming Lips’ shows soon after, including Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” and Coldplay’s “The Scientist”. Now that’s some friendship commitment.
He loves blood. We mean he really, really loves blood
Coyne has dabbled in the “art” of blood use before, pressing some vinyl editions of his 2012 effort The Flaming Lips And Heady Fwends with the various collaborators’ blood and using his own red stuff to make a poster. Last December he took it to the next level, embracing the medium of spin art to make a series of posters with the patterns made by human blood. He deemed them a “very special Christmas gift”. Some may have been returning those on Boxing Day.
- Bronwyn Thompson