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Wayne Coyne Loves Miley, Dismisses Dylan in Year-End Q&A

Flaming Lips frontman weighs in on Lady Gaga, EDM and 2013 in rock

Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips performs in London.
Matt Kent/WireImage
December 18, 2013 3:00 PM ET

The Flaming Lips had a major year, releasing their dark, twisted LP The Terror, their sci-fi-inspired Peace Sword EP and touring the country with Tame Impala. But frontman Wayne Coyne did a lot of listening, too — and even attended the Electric Daisy Carnival. He mouthed off about Miley, Gaga, EDM and Bob Dylan in a big Q&A about 2013's best and worst music.

Don't miss our 50 best albums of 2013

Did you have any favorite music that came out this year?
I’m still in the love with this Beach House record. I think it came out last year. [Ed's note: it did.] Jim James sent me his solo record and I just love it, love it, love it. They came to Tulsa, we hung out with them, and now here we are playing a show with My Morning Jacket at the beginning of the year. Another person where it’s like, “Wow, I love their music, and then here they are right in front of me.” I had never met James before then.

That’s interesting because you guys seem very similar in some ways.
I know. But I’d never met him in the flesh and I think that’s the nature of the way computer and e-mails and all those things work now. You can really be very close to people and not really have ever been actually physically close. And then this Tame Impala tour that just ended, same sort of thing. Even their previous record we really loved, but then this new one, and I don’t think it came out this year, but maybe it did. Did it?

No, it was at the end of last year but a lot of people paid attention to it this year.
We got to do these shows with them — as a musical entity and a show, it was just about as great as you could hope for. I’ve been talking to Jim James about his Bob Dylan/Wilco tour where I think the public has an idea of “that must be like a party every night!” I don’t think being with Bob Dylan nowadays is a party. I think he probably doesn’t talk to anybody and I think it’s kind of just the opposite.

I think Jim said they didn’t meet offstage the whole tour.
I think someone should say that for once. It doesn’t mean his music isn’t very powerful, but I think Bob Dylan’s been kind of a curmudgeon and I think there’s a contingency of people out there who don’t want to say that. And I say, why not? We pick on Miley Cyrus, who's 17 years old. We pick on her, but someone like Bob Dylan, we just protect him even though he’s sitting there, in all actuality, not really trying very hard. I would say, it’s his loss ­to be there with Jim James and his crew, and to be there with Wilco, and not get in on that. I’m like, "It’s your loss, buddy." I’d say they could have got rid of Bob Dylan and just done a tour with Wilco and My Morning Jacket and it would’ve been great.

Have you met Dylan?
We did a festival quite a few years ago now in Kilkenny, Ireland, where Bob Dylan was playing after us. At the time, we already knew that it was much like that then, even. But we held out hope that, who knows, we may be using the same portable toilet at some point. And as we were leaving the airport, we saw the newspaper and it said, "Michael Jackson is coming to watch Bob Dylan play in Kilkenny." It’s a really small town. It’s like the biggest thing that could have ever happened in the world. And then to have Michael Jackson come there to see Bob Dylan is already absurd. I mean, what the fuck? Talk about two weirdos that would probably actually despise each other. We just thought, "My God, this is going to be amazing, because we’re into shit like that." I say the more absurd the better.

We got done playing and suddenly it was like a lockdown. They rushed you offstage. "You gotta get your equipment off, you gotta clear the area." We looked out and saw this line of big, black Hummer limousines. Probably six or seven of them in a row. And we thought, dude, fucking Michael Jackson is here. They pull right up to the stage and it’s just Bob Dylan. Bob Dylan is in one. Two guys are in another one. They walk up to the stage. They play. They walk right back down to the limousines as soon as they’re done. The truth of it is, you believe Michael Jackson would have a ridiculous entourage because it seems believable. You would think Bob Dylan would just back amongst all the trailers jamming his acoustic guitar trying to keep warm with us. That’s the story, but that’s not the way it is. It’s weird and that’s the truth. What can you do?

What about rock this year? There weren’t a ton of bands that made a lot of impact on the charts.
I think Arcade Fire connecting up with James Murphy felt like two [artists] getting together and saying, "Let’s make something important." I don’t really listen to the Arcade Fire on purpose. It’s just not my trip. I’m not really looking for that kind of, "We’re gonna survive" kind of music. But I think people were kind of into that.

What do you think of the huge dance music DJs like Avicii or Tiesto?
I like Diplo only because I’ve been around him and we did some festivals where Major Lazer was playing and we all got to hang out with their dancers. I don’t think any of that is the enemy of music that people think it is. I’m old enough to have lived through when disco in the late Seventies seemed like it was the enemy of music, and I just think people are fucking crazy. I think it’s fucking wicked that you can just simply, with some cool plugins on your computer and some determination, you can really make some shit that sounds like a spaceship and an earthquake and a fucking orgasm all at the same time. I went to Electric Daisy Carnival in the middle of the summer in Las Vegas. You kind of go just to be part of this happening, but I couldn’t help but be arrested by the sonic impact of the bass. I would say for me, that sort of stuff, I became enlightened about its potential, really because I saw some stuff that was really well done. I say power to them. If I was 17 and that was happening as opposed to the concerts where I saw Black Sabbath and Van Halen I would’ve gone to both and said, "They’re both cool."

Are you a Miley fan?
I like her aesthetic more than a Lady Gaga, who this year to me feels like, "Take me serious" and Miley’s like, "I don’t give a fuck," which to me is always a lot more fun. I really like that thing where the people are inside the rainbow and they walk around. I just like that sort of stuff.

It seems like you guys were dressing up on stage, dancing with animals, etc. years before she was.
That’s why I like it. I wouldn’t say we started it but it’s definitely up our alley. Maybe that’s why I’m drawn to that more than, like I said, Gaga or whatever. All music is never just about the music. It’s personality driven and it’s about the way they make news and what they say when they’re in the news. All that stuff plays into whether you like it or dislike it. I’d say it’s fun. I’d much rather have someone up there smoking pot and really living it and not worry about the consequences.

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Song Stories

“Whoomp! (There It Is)”

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Cecil Glenn — a.k.a., "D.C." — was a cook at Magic City, a nude dance club in Atlanta, when he first heard women shout "Whoomp — there it is!" Inspired by the party chant, he and partner Steve "Roll'n" Gibson wrote a song around it. Undaunted by label rejections, they borrowed $2,500 from Glenn's parents and pressed 800 singles, which quickly sold out in the Atlanta area. A record deal came soon after. Glenn said the song was meant for positive partying. "If you're going to say 'Whoomp there it is,' and you're doing something negative, we'd rather it not have come out of your mouth."

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