The Flaming Lips frontman talks about recording the all-star ''Sgt. Pepper's'' cover album ''With a Little Help From My Fwends,'' partying with Miley, and wrestling with tinsel
How did you and Miley Cyrus first meet?
Years ago, she tweeted that she liked us. When someone as popular as Hannah Montana puts that on her Twitter, suddenly you get 50 texts: ”Did you see that?!” All the things we would see and read about her, I always liked. I think a lot of people don’t want to think that she’s smart and creative and all that — they wanna think she’s a fake. Last year, I could tell she was in that zone where she doesn’t give a f—, which is the most powerful place you can be. And she’s an absolute blast to be around. The day we recorded together, we were all up until about 6 o’clock in the morning, partying and getting matching tattoos.
In 2010 the Lips took on Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, and 2012’s Heady Fwends featured the likes of Bon Iver, Kesha, and Nick Cave. So you’ve done covers and had guest stars before. How did this album start?
Miley and I tried ”Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” in the studio, and it turned out really great. That made us think, ”Well, are we gonna continue on and make this?” We talked to a couple of people like My Morning Jacket, who were like, ”Yeah, this would be fun, let’s do it! Make it a whole thing.” So that’s the kind of accidental way we got into it.
The Lips and Sgt. Pepper’s are both known for going well with psychedelics.
I never really liked pot that much. But when people say Sgt. Pepper’s was the record where they got into acid or smoking pot, what we mean is that they were willing to try s—. It isn’t just ”Oh, they took a bunch of drugs.”
Everyone must have their own take on the Beatles.
You know, I’m going to be 54 and Miley is only 21, so it’s not something that’s ingrained in her DNA like it is for me…. [But] there were things we discovered about [Sgt. Pepper’s] that made it more fascinating, more creative, more of a mystery, and more genius.
What’s the risk management with a tinsel cape?
In the beginning, I would flail around, and the tinsel would get caught in the microphone and the cables. But I’ve gotten around that after 20 or 30 shows. I think the benefits far outweigh the hazards.
Read our whole chat with Coyne at ew.com/fwends