The Flaming Lips are the subject of the new documentary My Life With the Fearless Freaks, due out on DVD from Shout Films on March 23rd.
Taking its name from a Sunday youth football team on which Lips frontman Wayne Coyne played with his brothers, The Fearless Freaks explores the evolution of the Oklahoma band. In particular it focuses on the families and life experiences that shaped members Coyne, drummer Steven Drodz and bassist Michael Ivins.
“I started in Wayne’s neighborhood and really tried to tell the story of how he grew up because he has so many older brothers that were a huge influence on his life,” says director Bradley Beesley, whose previous credits include Lips’ videos, as well as documentaries about Oklahoma catfishing and blues label Fat Possum Records. “They shaped the music that he listened to and his early career drawing, and playing guitar, and going to concerts, and doing drugs.”
Beesley is a longtime associate of the Lips, and they were comfortable enough to let him film very personal moments. “I’ve got some pretty intimate footage of Steven using drugs and talking about how drugs destroyed his life, as they’re destroying his life,” Beesley says. “It’s not like a VH1 thing where the guy talks about shooting up like ten years ago. I was capturing it literally as he was shooting up.”
In addition to such gritty scenes, Freaks includes cameos from Beck, Jack White, Mercury Rev’s Jonathan Donahue, Juliette Lewis and Liz Phair, as well as outtakes from the long-awaited Lips movie Christmas on Mars (due out December 2005). The film also features four new Flaming Lips songs made specifically for the film.
“It’s a cool film,” says Coyne. “When you get to appear inside someone’s life I don’t think it would even matter who they are. I think if you followed anybody around for eleven years and talked to their relatives and were there when poignant things in their life happened, it wouldn’t matter who you are, it’d be interesting.”
Beesley and Coyne hope to have Freaks make its cinematic premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, in January, or at the South by Southwest Music-Film Festival in Austin Texas, in March.