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 pass 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 a “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.
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ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Congratulations on “Do You Realize?” becoming, finally, Oklahoma’s official rock song!
WAYNE COYNE: Well, thank you. It’s not been without its 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 Senatechamber and I think they were talking aboutstem cells. And they stopped everything and said, “We’ve got somespecial guests in the chamber here. Everybody welcome the FlamingLips!” The whole thing just stopped for an hour and they voted on thisthing. Ifigured, well, we won the vote and that’s the end of it. But, as weclearly know now, there was another vote.
At which both yourself and Michael Ivins were criticized.
Ithought it was a joke. I thought, they’re really not complaining aboutMichael’s T-shirt! I mean, there’s plenty of things they could havecomplained about. They could have said, “Hey, Wayne wrote a song backin 1986 called ‘Jesus Shooting Heroin’”! They could have said, “HisChristmas on Mars movie has a marching band with giant vaginal genitalsfor heads.”
But you won in the end. What was the official ceremony on Tuesday like?
Itwas cool, uncomfortable, weird. All the things that you think talkingto governors would be. I mean, he’s a very cool guy. But it is anotherworld for me. And he declared it Flaming Lips day as part of theceremony, 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?
Iasked the governor while we there: “Can I just go to a restaurant andget a meal for free?” I don’t think anyone really had an answer. I didn’t suggest molesting agoat.
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 saidwouldn’t have been taken as such a defiant statement from the FlamingLips, 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’dbeen working on some material that sounded like “John Lennon meetsMiles 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 thatseries of more freaky electronic players were all having their heydaywith Miles Davis. I wouldn’t say it sounds like jazz, butit sounds freaky and unrestricted. We had initially thought itwould be out maybe in July. But now I think it’ll bemore 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 oldhouse. He put his house up on the market last summer and it’s stillempty.
So, if a Flaming Lips fan were to buy Steven’s house next week, wouldthey get the band thrown in as well until you’d finished the album?
Wehave thought about this. If someone bought it we’d say, “Well, you can’tmove in for at least a couple of weeks.” People locally do know thatwe’re recording there. I’ve talked to quite a few musicians who havegone to an open-house day and looked around and said, “Oh, thisis where they’re doing their new record.”
Are you recording on open-house days? I always thought the advicefor 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 thestuff in the garage and it looks like a fairly normal, empty house.There is one room that has recording equipment but I think people justpicture their bed and their night dresser being in there. It’s a beautiful house! Even if there’s some leftover junk from oursession it would still seem very buyable!
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