The Flaming Lips

The Observer, Nov 2003

This Much I Know: Wayne Coyne, Lead Singer of the Flaming Lips, 45

Wayne-Coyne Wayne-Coyne-1

Photograph by Tom Fowlks

Also at The Observer

I think the Flaming Lips are proof that without skill, talent, money and good recording gear, you can make good records.

Chris Rock is right. We should make bullets really expensive.

Jesus is a great story, but you keep going back in time and that thing gets flimsier and flimsier – you’ll never run into someone who says, ‘Oh yeah, I knew him ‘.

Having sex with a lot of strangers is probably fine for some people, but it felt too weird to me. I never enjoyed it.

You can get high smoking scorpion tails. I don’t think it’s a good high and it takes about 50 scorpions per joint, so you risk getting bitten to death first. But all the good things in life are like that. If it doesn’t kill you, it’ll be cool.

The main difference between Americans and the English is the desire for intensity. Americans say, ‘Let’s do it now motherfucker, let ‘s go!’ and the English are more like, ‘Should we be intense right now, or should we wait till after dinner? ‘I think anyone who stays in England long enough gets a little defanged.

If you hang out with a bunch of people who want to kill themselves, then you will become one.

Chris Martin from Coldplay and Michael Stipe, they’re nice people, they don’t think it’s all about them. They know they’re entertainers and they’re providing a service. But Richard Ashcroft is a pompous dick.

Everyone cares about how they look, some people just don’t do anything about it. Thing is, you always leave an impression even if you don’t want to.

Most people who complain about downloaders used to sell a lot of records and can’t admit that they’re just not as popular as they were. For Metallica to say, ‘You’re taking food off of my baby’s plate’, that’s just ridiculous. Instead of making $50m this year they’re making $45m. Big deal! If people truly love your music, you can usually find a way to make money off them.

There’s no equivalent in America for when English people say, ‘kinell’. That’s great, that.

Shadow animals aren’t as easy to do as they look .

If one avenue of making money is not as lucrative any more, then think of something else. That’s what the imagination is for. You can’t just do things one way, otherwise you’ll go the way of the tap-dancer.

People say I’m mad. They say, ‘Look at him, his eccentric life. He has a beautiful wife, he wears Paul Smith suits and he has puppets!’ But that’s not madness. Real madness is horrible, where people don’t recognise their families, they shit themselves, they’re scared all the time. That’s my one fear – of going insane.

All that heaven and hell stuff sounds like fun. But come on, be serious – nothing happens after you die. When you turn off the toaster, it doesn’t sit there longing to make more toast, it doesn’t become the ghost of a toaster. When the spark of life is gone, we’re just a sack of flesh and chemicals with no ignition. That’s why I live life with such enthusiasm.

The music business hasn’t changed. It has always been about getting some Christ-like figure who has a lot of sex and money and looks good in pictures, and then exploiting him for money. Which is great!

When you’re young everything seems so authentic, because you do everything for the sheer experience. When you’re older, you realise it’s all a fabrication, but that’s cool too. We all fabricate our world view and our view of ourselves. It’s all a big act.

The trouble with politics is that everyone’s just pointing fingers at each other and asking, ‘Who ‘s the bigger idiot?’ I don’t give a shit about Arnold getting elected, really. But if you think you’re smarter or if you think Arnold’s stupid, then get out there and change things; don’t just stand at the sidelines and laugh.

Fame isn’t like climbing a mountain, where you start at the bottom and with grit and determination you reach the top. The world gives it to you.