You’d think the novelty of being in a band might wear thin after 30 years, but not for The Flaming Lips.
Over the years, the Lips’ output has included an album designed to be simultaneously played on four different CDs, a Christmas film set on Mars, an EP released via USB sticks stuck inside cannabis flavoured jelly skulls and limited vinyl records filled with the blood of Erykah Badu, Nick Cave, Ke$ha and Coldplay’s Chris Martin. A few years ago there was some story about Wayne Coyne involving a golden non-explosive grenade that ended with him promising to drop LSD with an upset fan, and from that point on we knew he was perfect 20 Questions material.
What book are you currently reading?
Morphine by Mikhail Bulgakov. But usually I’m just on the internet finding out what Donald Trump is up to.
Who’s your favourite person to follow on Instagram?
This artist Alpha Channelling. He’s pretty prolific, it seems like every day he posts a sketch, and it’s usually of people fucking.
What was the name of your first ever band?
The Flaming Lips.
First time lucky, that’s impressive.
Well, we got better as we went on.
If you were trying to seduce a potential lover, what music would you play?
Bloom by Beach House.
What’s the worst hotel you’ve ever stayed in?
Back in the 80s, all the hotels we could afford were really scary.
What’s your signature recipe?
It used to be that I could make a really good strong coffee, but now my skills are no longer useful in the world.
Out of all the songs that you’ve recorded, which is your least favourite?
Sun Blows Up Today, an extra track on The Terror. It’s a song we made for a car commercial that was in the Super Bowl.
That’s a very honest answer and I commend you on it.
We liked it as a commercial, not as piece as music on its own, but everyone wanted to stick it on the record.
Describe the worst haircut you’ve ever had…
There would be a bunch of us and we were all little, my dad would just shave all of our hair off. It was in the late sixties, and we all really wanted to keep our long hair.
"For a little while the guys in the group called me ‘Stinky’"
Who’s the most famous person you’ve ever met?
When I was three, I met Tarzan. Then I realised it was the actor Johnny Weissmuller, who was dressed as Tarzan.
Have you ever been arrested?
No. I came close, and then I was so relieved.
Have you ever had a nickname?
For a little while the guys in the group called me ‘Stinky’. But I didn’t stink, it was a shirt I had.
Do you think it was an affectionate nickname?
Yeah. Well I thought so. For British people nicknames are such a big deal, I wish that we were better with nicknames.
Maybe if you were British you’d be called Spud or something.
I’m fascinated with it, that some guy gets called ‘Gaz’. Like why would you be called that?
It’s short for Gareth or Gary.
Oh well there you go. There’s this British thing to have nicknames that are an insult, but it’s like ‘if we’re insulting you, it means we love you’.
What’s the worst job that you’ve ever had?
One summer I helped my younger brother dig trenches in people’s for yards sprinkler systems, from five in the morning until eight at night. It was brutal as fuck and I almost couldn’t do it, but after a few months I was very in shape.
Do you have any tattoos you regret?
There’s one that kind of looks like a pimple now, we did it in Oklahoma and
in pink ink, it says ‘Okey’ and now it’s all kind of mushed together. But no not really, I always forget that I’ve got them because most of mine are really little. I got one about a week ago at Miley Cyrus’s house, and it was an artist who was a friend of hers.
Have you and Miley got more matching tattoos?
There was a group of us. The one I got is a little yellow triangle, like a pyramid and I think she got one as well, but they’re only little. We always say you can’t ever put the tattoo on your face or your genitals.
What would you like written on your tombstone?
Well if I die and my head and my hair still looks good, I’d like my head cut off and put in a freezer, and every year on my birthday they could get my head out, sing happy birthday to me and throw me back in the freezer. But I’d never considered that I’d be buried or anything. I guess maybe the tombstone could just say: “Never the face, never the dick.”
The Flaming Lips new album Oczy Mlody is released 13 January via Warner Bros