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They Don’t Use Jelly

Flaming Lips’ upcoming record favors hooks over high concepts

Oklahoma’s wacky, psychedelic Flaming Lips are card-carrying
artistic provocateurs, always forgoing the usual rock-star career
trajectory in favor of the expect-the-unexpected route. So in the
wake of 1997’s Zaireeka, a four-disc set designed to be
played *simultaneously*, and singer/writer/guitarist Wayne Coyne’s
adventures in soundscapes with his forty car stereo avant garde
escapade “Parking Lot Experiment” and its indoor sequel, “Boom Box
Experiment,” it almost makes sense that the band’s forthcoming,
fourteenth album would be, gasp, commercial.

The band has been in an Oklahoma studio since spring of 1997
working on the tentatively titled A Soft Bulletin, which
is scheduled for release on April 27. Although the album is under
tight security at the band’s label, sources reveal that
Bulletin is a much more pop album than anything the group
has ever done. Of course, given that the Lip’s last radio-friendly
moment came with “She Don’t Use Jelly” from 1993’s Transmisions
From the Satellite Heart
, one might expect Coyne to unleash a
multi-disc affair overflowing with polished pop gems and demos.
Guess again.

“Longer doesn’t necessarily mean more songs,” Coyne promises. “I
was listening to an interview with Peter Buck on the radio and he
was telling the interviewer how they had written forty new songs
[for their latest record]. And I thought, ‘Good God, man! I think
most of their songs suck anyway, and they don’t have much variety .
. . you have forty songs, why don’t you sit on them for a while and
make five good ones out of them?’ I’m not saying everyone needs to
think that way, because I do. Hopefully because we’ve been working
so long, our songs are deeper and richer, instead of just more of
them.”

In addition, the singer insists that he and the band — comprised
of Coyne along with bassist Mike Ivins and drummer Steven Drozd —
have left the ironic, in-joke novelty of “She Don’t Use Jelly”
behind.

“The Soft Bulletin, is the next stop in the progression
we’ve forced ourselves into,” Coyne reveals. “We started off
wanting to explore. Not necessarily more serious kind of songs,
just more emotionally-based songs, instead of being just ironic and
silly. I was trying to get away from all that. I said to the guys,
‘let’s just make music that we love.’ I think some of the irony was
good, but I didn’t want to be known as a jokester anymore.”

The Lips are still vague about exactly when they plan to hit the
road (they haven’t toured in two and a half years), but when they
do, they’ll be revamping their live show, too. “I think we’ll
probably be playing stuff that’s pre-recorded and we’ll be playing
along with it,” says Coyne. “I’m not sure if that’s actually going
to work or not, but that’s what we’re looking at at the moment.
Actually, I don’t know why doing it this way didn’t occur to us
earlier, because we really do compromise what the songs really do
sound like live. I think this is a much better solution, even if
people think this is sort of a cop-out. I don’t really care about
that. I would much rather hear a great recording than a s—-y live
rendition. Besides, I really think the way that the record industry
is now, there’s too many bands playing.

“And what’s the worse thing that could happen to me if people
didn’t like the stuff? I’d have to go out and get a job,” he says,
only half joking. “I mean, how horrible is that?”

In This Article: The Flaming Lips

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