by Gregory Frye
Over twenty five years of making music and The Flaming Lips are still turning heads, attracting new fans and re-inspiring the old ones. Their latest headline involves their announcement to record a 24-hour song to be released via hard drive inside five human skulls on Halloween. Quite a progression from the six-hour song they just released, which actually turns out to be worth listening to.
This group has always blazed its own path – sometimes with actual fire, onstage psychedelic freakouts that won them a record contract with Warner Bros. in the early ‘90s. Since then they’ve evolved over a number of albums, from the early days of scene-changing surreal noise punk to critical masterpieces like The Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.
At the end of their 20-year contract with Warner Bros. last year, record company execs offered the band complete creative control of which in a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Wayne Coyne said “Well, I think they are relieved that we can do it. Because for the last three or four years anyway, there has been desperate talk of ‘What do we do, as a record company? What is the way to make records now?’”
Recent projects include releasing music through a life size gummy skull, with a USB of four tunes embedded in a gummy, marijuana-flavored brain. At the end of September the band turned even more heads, recording and releasing the six-hour song, designed to be played as “background noise while you’re doing something cool.” They allowed fans, for $100, to add their name to a list read by Sean Lennon at different intervals throughout the six hours, the twenty thousand dollars in proceeds donated to the Oklahoma City SPCA and Academy of Contemporary Music at Oklahoma City University.
The six hour song was such a hit that this Halloween The Flaming Lips plan to top themselves yet again, this time with a 24-hour song to be released inside a skull. In another interview, Coyne explained the skeletal provider Skulls Unlimited: “Nothing that we’re doing is bizarre or illegal. Heads come into this place and they have these flesh-eating beetles which literally eat every molecule of flesh off of these things and you’ll end up with a human skull.”
I propose to write a profile on the band, joining them on part of their current tour and interviewing friends, fan, family, and band members for an up-close look at what is perhaps one of the most innovative music groups in modern history, their music, their stage show, everything about them embodies a colourful message of truth, wonder and cognitive freedom. This band is a beacon of hope and inspiration for young people everywhere, and they are about to set everything on fire again. Maybe they already have.
Below, the six hour song “I Found a Star on the Ground” divided into three parts. Enjoy.