Almost a year ago, Flavorwire reported on the transformation of the Flamings Lips‘ frontman Wayne Coyne from a revered genius to the “worst person in rock ‘n’ roll.” Today, questions of his sanity—? respectability? relevance?— are sure to continue with a new interview that initially reads like a satire: “I was just in the middle of grabbing a rubber-coated skull,” Coyne tells the UK Guardian’s Dave Simpson, adding:
There’s a guy in town who deals in human bones. When he was 12, he found a skull of a possum out in the woods. Fast-forward 35 years, I was at his place and he had some actual human heads in his freezer. I’ve been experimenting with covering them in pink rubber.
From there, it’s a bumpy ride through the past as Coyne candidly recounts all of the old scandals (the grenade at airport security, the Erykah Badu video fiasco, the reworking of the same video with Amanda Palmer, the constant nude photos on Instagram, the endless publicity stunts: Gummy skulls! Painting in his own blood! Doing drugs with Kesha! Getting stoned with Miley Cyrus!) before concluding that he’s just simply “an intense person.”
When he’s talking about the music, though, there’s a clarity and intentionality that reminds you of why some people still love and respect The Flaming Lips. In speaking about the “darkness” of the album The Terror, he said:
If you were around me, you wouldn’t have thought I was sad. But there is a line in the song “The Terror” – “You don’t even control the controls” – that summed up how I felt. There’s what you want your life to be and what it is, and beneath that there’s something deeper which pulls at you; an anxious, subconscious terror, like a cigarette smouldering in the couch. One day it’s going to explode and take over the whole couch, so you’ve got to dig in there and pull it out. I dug in there and pulled it out.