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Interview: The Flaming Lips On Miley, Laser Hands And Their Punk Rock Roots

By Michael Cerio

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Part of the reason The Flaming Lips have managed to sustain success for as long as they have is because they keep inventing new roads to reach them.

Maybe you were an early adopter before the world knew of their wonderful weirdness. Perhaps “She Don’t Use Jelly” was the early earworm that hooked you, or the grace of “Do You Realize??” primed you for a deeper dive. Maybe it was Miley Cyrus, as the band joined her for her technicolor walk on the wild side that finally led you to the fantastical world of The Flaming Lips.

Whatever the case, all converge as the band wraps a string of tour dates this Sunday at the Xcite Center at Parx Casino in Bensalem, Pa.

Always a spectacle of sight and sound, the band is bringing with them some new music from their immersive new album Oczy Mlody and something that singer Wayne Coyne calls “laser hands.”

“It’s pretty fantastic” explains Coyne about the concert apparatus that was once stolen.

There were no “laser hands” when Coyne and company came through town in 2015 for a visit with Miley Cyrus. The Flaming Lips and Coyne, in particular, seemed like shepherds on the pop stars path into a psychedelic wonderland, acting as collaborators and backing band.

While Cyrus has mostly retreated back into a realm of Americana, there is a Miley-sized stamp on the band’s latest musical offering, filled with unicorns and a surreal sense of happiness that might be an aftershock from that experiment.

“When Miley and myself got together, I think we just really, we gave each other the confidence to say, it doesn’t matter. The things that she would be insecure about it’s like, that doesn’t matter, and the things that I thought, ‘Is that gonna work?’ She’s like, ‘Dude, that absolutely works, you shouldn’t worry about it.’ I think we really wanted that encouragement from each other,” recalls Coyne.

“All that from someone who’s really had an insane, successful career like her is a giant risk to spend a couple of years doing that, and then, not just to do it but to put out the music and to go on a tour. All that stuff is a giant, giant risk” Coyne says. “To us, we never felt like it was a risk other than the idea of like, ‘Are we gonna stay friends as The Flaming Lips? Can we all embrace this and make this work?’ And within the first couple minutes of meeting her and being around her, all that just went away.”

The Flaming Lips | Credit: George Salisbury

It’s part of the latest chapter of a band that credits the aesthetic and ethos of punk rock for their creation.

“I can’t say how much of inspiration that was,” recalls Coyne of the punk movement that coursed through his hometown of Oklahoma City. “Punk rock just seemed like, ‘Well, we could do that.’ I think that little moment allowed us to feel naive enough and brave enough and bored enough to say, ‘Let’s just make a group.'”

Thirty-five years later, here they are.

You can see The Flaming Lips this Sunday at the XCite Center at Parx Casino. To hear much more from Wayne Coyne, listen to our full interview above or click here.

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