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Flaming Lips' Six-Hour Song Sounds Like 'Velvet Underground Meets Super Mario Brothers'

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How does Warner Bros. relate to this? This method is kind of outside their regular model.
Well, I think they are relieved that we can do it. Because for the last three or four years anyway, there has been desperate talk of "What do we do, as a record company? What is the way to make records now?" And I think when our contract ran out at the end of last year, a 20-year contract we’ve had with Warner Bros., they looked at us and we looked at them and they said "I think you guys are going to have to do a something because nobody else knows what to do." And we kind of stared and we’re like, "Well, we kind of thought you would know what to do." And I said, well, if I could do anything I want, here is the way I would do it. We’d just release stuff every month. And sometimes it would be a record, and sometimes it will be a strange Flaming Lips object. And they said, "What do you think those objects will be?" And I said, "Fuck, I don’t know."

I think things like the gummy skull, where you actually had to eat it to get the music out of it, really appealed to us, because it’s a little bit more of a contemporary art piece than it just being a big plastic toy that you stick in your closet forever. I’m in the position where I can do a lot of stuff, and I don’t really worry that I can’t do it.

How time-consuming is it having these objects developed and manufactured?
Well, it takes every bit that you have. And you know, I was lucky that I have a lot of people helping me – a lot of smart people, a lot of cool people. When we started to do those gummy skulls, it wasn’t a gummy skull. In the beginning it was plastic and we were working with rubber and stuff like that. And then it moved in to a new direction, where at one point it was going to be made of bubblegum, and that didn’t work. We ran in to this guy that does the giant gummy stuff, while we were looking for bubble gum. The people that I’m doing all this stuff with like creating, and not knowing exactly what’s going to happen, and doing new, exciting things. And so, lucky for me.

What kind of stuff do you have coming up on the horizon after you finish the six-hour song?
We’re still working on this Flaming Lips stomp box – which in the beginning, there were like 10,000 things you wanted it to do. Some of those aren’t possible, but some other new things will be possible – but that’s even more so a a motherfucker to manufacture than what we thought it was in the beginning. We have another mega skull that I can’t tell you about yet. But I'll tell ya, everybody is gonna want that, and they're not gonna want anything else because it is so mega. I think we have a frog that – another candy product – that has like a powder, that you put on the frog. It’s kind of a play on those psychedelic South American frogs that you would lick and you would trip on. I think there was a watch, a watch that kind of has a strange back on it that, as you heat up your skin, it turns up the volume. They're all mechanisms by which you get to play Flaming Lips music.

Do you kind of have to think about what music would fit best for each object?
Well, on some of them, yes. But on a lot of it, no. On a lot of it, the music, sometimes, is the most easily done part of it. For some of it, I think, the product is made, and we make the music to fit the product. And other times it's kind of the music and the product are being made at the same time. I do think we are going to do one for Halloween, though. I can’t speak to that just yet, but that will be completely tied together, this idea of death and I’m singing as if I’m already dead. And I hoping I can make it happen by Halloween. We did this with the "Two Blobs Fucking" thing that came out on Valentine's Day. I want to hit these Flaming Lips-specific holidays. You know, we do Christmas, we do Halloween.

Related
Weezer and the Flaming Lips Joyfully Return to the Nineties
Video: Wayne Coyne Shows Off Flaming Lips' New Gummy Skull EP

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Song Stories

“Bleeding Love”

Leona Lewis | 2007

In 2008, The X Factor winner Leona Lewis backed up her U.K. singing competition victory with an R&B anthem for the ages: "Bleeding Love," an international hit that became the best-selling song of the year. The track was co-penned by OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder (whose radio dominance would continue with songs such as Beyonce's "Halo" and Adele's "Rumour Has It") and solo artist Jesse McCartney, who was inspired by a former girlfriend, Gossip Girl actress Katie Cassidy. Given the song's success, McCartney didn't regret handing over such a personal track: "No, no," he said. "I'm so happy for Leona. She deserves it. There are really no bad feelings."

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