The lengths The Flaming Lips will go to for their fans: Do … you … realize?
When the O Music Award show begins its marathon, 24-hour online broadcast next Wednesday, the band will head out on a day-long adventure of their own: a mission to play a whole bunch of concerts in multiple cities in a single day. If they succeed, they could break Jay-Z’s Guinness World Record for the same feat, but lead Lip Wayne Coyne says he isn’t gunning for Hova’s title.
“I’m playing along with it all,” Coyne says. “Don’t get me wrong; it would be nice, in the end, if next year’s Guinness Book of World Records came out and the Flaming Lips were in it, as opposed to Jay-Z or whoever has the record now. But that’s not really my thrust.”
Fan outreach is. It’s the thread that’s run through most of what the weirdo band has done since its inception–from the Lips’ 1997 four-disc, quadrophonic Zaireeka that actually required listeners to sit and interact together to sync up the discs and play the unified parts of the songs, to Coyne’s famously festive hamster bubble antics in concert, to the constant fan interaction on Twitter, it’s clear that this is one band that knows how to cultivate and reward a devoted following, online and off. “Fan outreach” is, in fact, the title of the honor the O Music Awards are bestowing upon the Flamesters. Now those fans will have a chance to join the band on a caravan journey through the Mississippi Delta.
“The reason I want to do it is more about doing this very strange day and night and day, where we play all these shows with different artists we like, and have an audience of about 300 people who will make this trek with us,” Coyne says. “I like the idea that all of this core of our really great hardcore audience can join us and see us play all these little spots, playing music that we’ve never played before. “
Coyne and the rest of the band made a pact to stray away from the standard playlists on this mini-est of mini-tours. That means deep cuts from albums like the quadrophonic Zaireeka, Led Zeppelin covers, and other assorted rarities that don’t get played on typical tours. The eight-city jaunt will see some shows that last only 16 or 17 minutes, for logistic reasons, before the band hits the road again; a good opportunity for trotting out the sonic unicorns. “When you’ve been a band for as long as we have—which is almost 30 years—you want there to be these very unique occasions your fans can say they the only time you played that song, and they saw you do it,” says Coyne.
A fairly organized group of fans usually follow The Flaming Lips around America and sometimes Europe, and they have already to follow along on this latest summer trip. Some of the bands who will be joining along are Neon Indian, who recently collaborated with the Lips on their Heady Fwends LP, Jackson Browne, Grimes, New Fuse, and many other groups who fit along with Coyne’s psychedelic sensibilities. Anybody who can’t make it out to see the shows in person can watch some of the performances, which will be simulcast with the O Music Award show.
Although the record-breaking tour wasn’t Wayne Coyne’s idea, he’s happy to go along with it, and he plans on learning from it. “I don’t think we would’ve thought of this on our own, but now that we’re figuring out how to get equipment from one place to the next and get it set up while we’re driving there, we’ll probably try to do shows like this again,” he says. “I love doing stuff that’s completely unique and different for those fans. I think that’s the way the world is gonna go—that it isn’t just about ‘Can we get a bunch of people to give us a bunch of money at one time?’”