.

Best College Radio Bands: The Flaming Lips

Oklahoma's pride and joy took awhile to come around, and now that they're here, they'll do what they like

October 14, 1999
The Flaming Lips
The Flaming Lips
Mick Hutson/Redferns

At punk-rock high, the Flaming Lips were the psychedelic clowns in the back row of the stellar class of '84. Once merely the pride of Oklahoma, the Flaming Lips are reinventing themselves and making converts around the globe, and their new The Soft Bulletin has been acclaimed as the finest headphone rock since OK Computer. Although the Lips make some outrageous demands on their audience – their 1997 Zaireeka is a set of four CDs designed to be played simultaneously – they have staying power. "I never expect the audience to come along with us," frontman Wayne Coyne confesses. "I'm always surprised."

The Lips – Coyne, bassist Michael Ivins and multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd – were already grizzled veterans in 1995 when they scored their fluke pop hit, "She Don't Use Jelly." "Momentarily it may have tricked us into thinking we could be the next, I don't know, Stone Temple Pilots or something," says Coyne. "But a lot of bands have hits that size, and it derails their whole evolution. They start following something arbitrary, which they have no control over, as opposed to following their muse."

Instead of capitalizing on their pop success, the Lips went their own way, exploring the studio as an instrument, and their payoff is the expansive head rush of The Soft Bulletin, the result of two years of obsessive fiddling. It's especially impressive from a band that, by all rights, should have started to suck years ago.

"Enthusiasm and persistence can win in the end," Coyne says. The Soft Bulletin is an ungodly mess, and that's exactly how Coyne likes it. "There are moments when it sounds like, 'Whoa, these guys have mastered the studio,'" he notes with pride. "And other times it's like, 'The studio is clobbering these guys!'"

This story is from the October 14th, 1999 issue of Rolling Stone.


To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

prev
Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.

X

We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

More Song Stories entries »
 
www.expandtheroom.com