The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends, the experimental rock crew’s collaborative album featuring everyone from Bon Iver and My Morning Jacket’s Jim James to Ke$ha and Nick Cave, was first released to limited retailers as part of Record Store Day this past April. But on June 26th, the album will receive a full-scale, nationwide release. “I think the intention was all along that we would put it out (as a proper release),” says frontman Wayne Coyne, who attributes the delay to the gaggle of legal negotiations that Heady Fwends required. “We have people like Bon Iver and Ke$ha and Chris Martin, and they’ve got 12 lawyers that have to sign off on stuff and that usually takes about a year,” he explains. “We wanted them to do it over a weekend.”
Coyne says the project not only resulted in unexpected musical partnerships, but also intense friendships. “I believe I’ll probably be friends with Ke$ha for the rest of our lives,” he says of the “Tik Tok” singer, who is featured alongside rapper Biz Markie on the track “2012 (You Must Be Upgraded).” The pals are also exchanging ideas for Ke$ha’s upcoming LP, though Coyne admits, “I don’t know how much the public will see. We’ll do songs, and then she’ll take these songs and her producers and all that will take ideas from it … Sometimes we’ve gotten together thinking we’re just gonna do one song, and we’ll walk out with four different songs. We’ll stay awake all night just laughing and just having the time of our lives.”
Not every Heady Fwends partnership has gone so smoothly, however. After releasing a racy video for the Lips’ collaboration with Erykah Badu on a cover of Roberta Flack’s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” – a risqué clip in which the neo-soul singer and her sister both appeared in the nude – Badu issued a statement on Twitter that suggested the Lips singer never obtained her approval for the video.
“Believe me, I was warned and knew that she was an unpredictable freak,” says Coyne, who was on a plane when the online melee occurred and suspects that Badu’s remarks were spurred by her fans’ reaction to the clip. “A lot of the Erykah Badu audience does not know or give a shit or will ever care about the Flaming Lips. That’s the side of it that she fights for,” he explains. “I didn’t take it serious. I took it as, she’s being controversial. A lot of the things that were said I thought were just fun, and it was fun to play along with. That’s the beauty of Twitter.”