Wayne Coyne is still a bit mystified as to how the Flaming Lips ended up recording an entire EP dedicated to the science-fiction film Ender's Game. "It's still a little bit of a mystery to me," the frontman for the Oklahoma psych-rock outfit says of their forthcoming Peace Sword EP, set to be released digitally on October 29th, followed by a CD and vinyl version available on November 29th.
After being commissioned to write a song for the film, the majestic ballad "Peace Sword (Open Your Heart),” the Lips’ creative juices started flowing. So much so, Coyne says, that even after recording the one song for the soundtrack, the band had no choice but to keep going. "In the workings of getting to that song we'd already created a couple of these other little things that didn't appeal to [the filmmakers] but started to appeal to us," he says."We started to like these little ideas that we kept inserting into this one theme. [We were] just getting caught up in our own little fantasy."
While never directly referencing the song's characters in the lyrics, the tracks on Peace Sword certainly touch upon themes similar to those in the movie: isolation, regret, loneliness and the redemptive power of love. "Try and remember it's just a game/No one really dies," Coyne declares on "If They Move, Shoot Em," an ominous space-age anthem that sounds in line with the band's latest album, The Terror. Later, on the whirring "Think Like a Machine, Not a Boy," the singer declares "my mind has been poisoned by your lies,” as vibrating synths crash like rubbery sonic waves. The pinnacle of the six-song set is the trippy ten-minute-plus tune "Assasin Beetle - The Dream Is Ending" -- a song that violently veers between serene and staccato.
Coyne says the experience confirmed his belief that writing to a narrative aids in his band's creative process. "Our most satisfying records to listen to . . . at the end you kind of stumble upon a character and a theme and a story," he says, specifically referencing two of the band's best-known LP's as evidence: 1999’s The Soft Bulletin and 2002’s Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. "The more you do it, the more you're compelled by your own creation."
Per usual, Peace Sword is just one of several projects Coyne and the Lips have in the works. The band recently recorded a split-EP with Australian space rockers Tame Impala, with whom they had previously worked with on last year's The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends. The split-EP, which features both bands covering the other's material, is set to be avaliable later this month at the shows they have slated together.
"We both really liked each other's music and thought it would be fun to do that," says Coyne of the inspiration for the collaborative EP. He recalls first meeting the band at a Japanese festival, circa 2010, during an acid-fueled dressing room jam session. Come to think of it, Coyne adds with a laugh, "every time I'd seem them up until last week they were tripping on acid."
The singer also is still pursuing a collaborative project with pop-star friend and Heady Fwends partner Ke$ha. "We're going to do it," Coyne declares of a Lips-Ke$ha album tentatively titled Lip$ha. "I don't know how exactly and when exactly," he says," but yah, I know for sure that we are continuing to make music and I know for sure from her end and our side of it, we are going to put it out." The singer admits he's not sure yet whether the album will be a joint-release or come out as a Lips-fronted project, "'It's really just a matter of what we can call it contractually," he says. "I just make music with her because I think she's cool. The rest we'll have to let [the record label] sort out."
"I never think through those sort of things," he adds.
Here is the track list for Peace Sword:
"Peace Sword ("Open Your Heart")
"If They Move, Shoot Em"
"Is the Black at the End Good"
"Think Like a Machine, Not a Boy"
"Assassin Beetle - The Dream Is Ending"