It’s been thirty long years of making music for veterans The Flaming Lips. The Terror is their thirteenth studio album and these guys know how to keep themselves, and their fans, entertained. I guess thirty years in the industry can breed boredom of the regular, so why not crowd surf in a bubble like an immunodeficient on a field day, or make a 24-hour song and then hunt down twenty human skulls to insert the limited edition song into?
Only recently the band took over David Letterman’s stage, covering the area in copious amounts of white chords that stretched from what looked like an umbrella skeleton in the background, all the way over to lead singer Wayne Coyne and attached to the feet of the toy doll he was holding for the entirety of their performance. No big deal, just business as usual for The Flaming Lips.
The Terror is an intensely melancholy album, but plays through beautifully once you get past the high tone static drudged out in ‘Look…The Sun is Rising’. Listening to the album, you’d think that Coyne had lost all hope in humanity and our existence, and song titles such as ‘You Are Alone’ and ‘Turning Violent’ don’t exactly reassure us that he hasn’t, but I had a little chat with the man not so long ago, and he is as chipper as ever.
I figured, that after thirty years of making music, The Flaming Lips could just record what ever the fuck they like, and to an extent, Coyne seems to agree with me. However, it’s sometimes a lose-lose situation for musicians who are looking to change their sound; you can pursue a sound that you crave but risk losing some fans, or you can stay the same, and go slowly insane.
“The worst thing to happen to a group like us would be to be bored. If we got bored by what we were doing we would die little, by little, by little and surely we would die. There have been times within The Flaming Lips we didn’t go purely with what we desired and what we wanted to be about and after that we had some regrets about it.” Says Coyne.
But they’ve managed, once again, to change it up, leaving nothing to regret. The Terror is a fine album. Its’ strength is in its' intensity as it colours the world a dismal grey, but Coyne still manages to throw some flares into the sky, just incase there is other life out there that may save him.
This album may seem like a massive shift for the band, but Coyne is adamant that it has been coming for a while, we just haven’t been at their band practices.
“The Terror to everyone else seems like “what the fuck is going on?”… Like it’s such a radical departure… but for us it doesn’t seem that way because we’ve been making music and doing a lot in-between (albums). I forget that not all the world was hearing some of the music.”
So just to recap - that’s thirty years and thirteen albums and there is still music that we haven’t heard from The Flaming Lips. These guys don't mess around. Coyne reminds me that at the end of the day, they’re doing what they love, and when you do what you love, I guess you could just do it forever.
“I think we could probably spend our lives just recording and be satisfied. This idea that we could go out into the world and meet all kinds of freaks and do freaky things and see this great wonderful planet…that’s just a bonus. I know at the core of it, we just love recording. We love music, that’s pure and simple.”
Here's to hoping that thirteen isn't the unlucky last. The Terror is out now.