Monday, March 9, 2015

The Flaming Lips' Journey From Long John Silvers to Madison Square Garden

As part of my ongoing series of highlights from my expansive personal rock'n roll library:

It's pretty cool that music-journalist Jim DeRogatis' Staring At Sound: The True Story of Oklahoma's Fabulous Flaming Lips opens on New Year's Eve 2004 when the band played Madison Square Garden with Sleater Kinney and Wilco. Because I was there too.

A teamster working backstage said he had never seen anything like the display the Lips put on that night, which included a giant inflatable sun, clouds of smoke, a barrage of lights and video, and a non-stop New Year's rain of confetti.

It was a long way from where leading Lip Wayne Coyne had come from since the 11-year stretch years ago he spent as a fry cook at a fast-food fish restaurant.

Turns out, Coyne grew up with five siblings and, when he was less than one-years-old, his family up and moved from Pittsburgh to Oklahoma City. When he was nine, his dad was accused of embezzling funds from his business, but was acquitted. Nevertheless, it was a trying time in the Coyne family history.

Organized sports in high school didn't really suit Coyne. Instead, he and his brothers and their friends formed to sandlot football team called the fearless freaks, a name that would later be associated with some of the Lips' musical output, some of which is my very favorite psychedelic pop ever produced. Anyway, Coyne says they would listen to Pink Floyd, smoke a joint, and then go play sandlot football.

Beginning his sophomore year, he worked as a fry cook at Long John Silver, which Coyne actually credits as being pretty productive in that it helped him think about his life. Although he has never done that many drugs, he did sell pot while he worked at Long John Silvers.

Next up: a look at part of the early years of the Velvet Underground.