By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
I never get tired of hearingThe Soft Bulletin, orYoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. Where did they come from?
Until The Soft Bulletin, there was sort of a confrontational aspect of us that I didn’t notice; we wanted to push people’s buttons. The Soft Bulletin was the first time that we thought, Let’s just quit fuckin’ with people. Why don’t we sing songs to them, like the way that, when we listen to music, we love it? In some ways, to let the music be beautiful was the bravest thing that we ever did.
Both albums have an almost miraculous balance about them, the way you’re dealing musically and lyrically with lightness and darkness.
Well, luckily, people have given me a kind of platform, because I’m an older guy and I sing about things and they hear it as being a voice of experience. When you’re 42 years old and you’re wondering, What does death mean?, it’s because you’ve experienced it, you start feeling it. I think it has a little more power because of that.
Living in the moment is a running theme in your songs.
But the moment you realize you’re living in the moment, you can’t do it. In moments of sheer panic, when you think you’re gonna die, suddenly you’re living in the moment. But it’s terrifying.
Probably the best compliment I could pay you is that your music always suggestspossibility.
It’s because I see that that’s a real way — it isn’t some fake metaphor that’s supposed to cheer you up. Maybe I’m retarded in that way, but I truly believe it. Life has so many horrible, evil things that are gonna come your way just by virtue of you being alive that you have to see new ways that you can’t see now.
I can seriously say your music has improved the quality of my life.
Well, it’s like, if you came to my house and I cooked you a baked potata, and you said, Damn, Wayne, that’s the best baked potata I ever ate — you know, at the end of the day it’s the potata, really, that’s doing most of the work. I just grabbed it at the store and cooked it, you know?
This last year and the year before have been like the Golden Age of Flaming Lips. You’re touring a lot, and getting a lot of critical acclaim; you even won a Grammy. I’m impressed by how much you appear to be enjoying it all, after these 20 long years. And those shows of yours — down-home medium-low-tech videos, balloons, confetti, people parading around in animal costumes, and of course the nightly “Happy Birthday” song — well, it’s all about a kind of fun . . . isn’t it?
But in our live sets, we’re mostly singing about death. So it only makes sense that our show should look like a birthday party. We’re celebrating being born and we’re celebrating dying, and all we have is this ship that’s in the middle and we may as well make the best of it.
The audience is giving me this great life, because they believed in me. Our audience is not coming to a Flaming Lips show thinking they’re gonna see the greatest entertainers of all time; they’re thinking, I’m gonna see the Flaming Lips from Oklahoma, and I’m gonna see something I’ve never seen before.
The Flaming Lips play the Hollywood Palladium on Saturday, May 31.
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