Steven Drozd -- drums, vocals, guitars, other stuff
Michael Ivins -- bass, vocals, guitars
Ronald Jones -- guitars, effects, vocals, postal abuse
Wayne Coyne -- vocals, guitars, philosophy, all the rest
"I figured when I got done with the record, I'd have used up every idea I'd ever have."
Clouds Taste Metallic, the new album from The Flaming Lips on Warner
Bros. Records, sounds like a big party in outer space, with two songs about
astronauts, references to exploding brains, placebo headwounds, postal
workers on fire, explorations with needles, loopy rhythms, cheesy NASA
effects and that slightly off-center Flaming Lips "absolute sound."
Wayne Coyne explains, "We hear so many records these days that are done with click tracks, as opposed to a drummer. Everybody seems to focus in on this perfection sort of thing. It's not that we really try to be off-center purposely; I just think that, compared to a lot that's out there, we're actually playing music by human beings-who are into the music."
The last year has been larger than usual for the fire-eating boys from
Oklahoma City-"She Don't Use Jelly" broke out of the MTV BuzzBin and into
the Top 40, followed by appearances on Lollapalooza, David Letterman and
Beverly Hills 90210.
"When 90210 called up and said, 'We want The Flaming Lips to play The
Peach Pit,' we thought it was a joke-but a joke like that you can't afford
to pass up, so we said, 'Sure! Great! We'll do it in a second!'" recalls
Flaming Lip Wayne Coyne. "We didn't really know who the stars were...Tori
Spelling, or any of the people. If it were 1973 and it were the Brady Bunch,
we'd know who they were. When it played, we had a big party here and everybody
Recorded between February and June 1995, Clouds Taste Metallic contains
12 new songs, plus the "Aurally Excited Version" of "Bad
Days," featured in Batman Forever, introducing Jim Carrey's Riddler
to the audience-full volume and twisted. "We couldn't believe it, they
used almost the entire song! We had remixed it for the film-before it was
very low-fi. It's not that I'm a fan of low-fi stuff, but this was sort
"The Abandoned Hospital Ship" starts off the parade of new tunes on the album, the seventh full-length Flaming featurette, with home movie sounds and Wayne's patented "vulnerable but endearing wail" about how difficult it can be to come up with these tunes. It evolves into a full-blown widescreen extravaganza with big drums, big guitars and of course, big church bells. Then somebody turns the projector off. Hallelujah! A great start!
"Psychiatric Explorations Of The Fetus With Needles" continues the fun
with the second longest title on Clouds Taste Metallic (the winner being
track six-"Guy Who Got A Headache And Accidentally Saves The World").
"Sometimes the song title comes with the songs, other times you just
sorta make something up afterwards. We've been known to have some very
long album titles, like Providing Needles For Your Balloons and Transmissions
From the Satellite Heart, or Hit To Death In The Future Head. Somewhere
along the way I figured I could get away with long song titles, but I had
to stop doing long titles for albums. If you think of Clouds Taste ...
that's only two syllables. You can get that out easily."
"Placebo Headwound" asks a lot of questions about outer space, birds'
migration patterns and God. Where do you find the answers? "I really love
that word, 'placebo.' If you think it works, well then it works. If God
can only exist in your mind, doesn't that mean he's really there if you
think of him?" asks Professor Coyne, adding, "I'm not sure it's actually
to our benefit to let anybody know how we came up with this crap."
Clouds Taste Metallic is full of stories about birds, brains, giraffes,
sub-atomic molecules, travels to other worlds and other scientific oddities.
But it also offers a sincere look at the theory that "good will triumph
over bad" in one of the album's highlights, "Evil Will Prevail." "Anyone
with half a brain must know that goodness is sometimes not enough to conquer
evil. Anyone who's been alive has seen a lot of shitty, evil things done
and it doesn't take a bomb blowing up half of your town to know that."
Besides holding claim to having the world's tallest radio tower for
KOMA, Oklahoma City was also a test market for McDonald's McRibs and MTV.
Before cable, Wayne and his older brothers had to entertain themselves
by holding boxing matches in their front yard. "It was endlessly entertaining,
watching people beat each other up. All the little kids in the neighborhood
would come and watch...and then we'd beat them up as well. My older brothers
would take a lot of drugs and we'd sit around and listen to records-the
Beatles' White Album, John and Yoko's experimental stuff. We never knew
it was freaky or weird; we thought that was music that everyone listened
In spite of absorbing countless blows to the head, Wayne and his brother
Mark went on to form The Flaming Lips, though Mark dropped out in the early
rounds. "We've been together since '84 [the current line up has been together
since 1992], but for the longest time we didn't consider ourselves a band,
more like a joke."
After signing with Warner Bros. in 1991 and finding out you could actually
get money for making records, the band started believing that The Flaming
Lips might be legitimate. This of course hasn't interfered with that quirky,
homemade blend of sounds found on all of their records.
"We love it when we make mistakes that are better than something you
could think up," says Wayne. False starts, distortion, buzzing amplifiers,
whirling tape decks and studio chatter all contribute to the production
of Clouds Taste Metallic, which was produced by The Lips and Dave Fridmann.
"I always look at some of these songs as kinda movies or something.
I try to give them some sort of drama, but in the end it just comes down
to asking...'gee, what the hell are we gonna do?'"
Surprisingly, "They Punctured My Yolk" has nothing to do with needles
or eggs. "It's another sad story about a couple of young astronauts in
the NASA program. They fall in love and at the last minute something happens
to the guy and he doesn't get to go to space, but she goes for a ten-year
After tours with Candlebox, Stone Temple Pilots, Butthole Surfers, Archers Of Loaf and the Grifters-after ten years of exploring the fringes of the consciousness of American culture, The Flaming Lips have finally moved to the frontal lobe section of the supermarket with the release of Clouds Taste Metallic. As Wayne wisely says looking back at it all-"Nothing was as intentional as we hoped it was."
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