The Flaming Lips
Oklahoma City, 1983. Wayne Coyne, a fry cook at Long John Silver's, had saved up enough money to buy the Les Paul he'd been eyeing. He pulled together a couple casual acquaintances, along with his brother Mark, and they made a demo tape. And this is where the story begins.
Despite deciding to call themselves the FLAMING LIPS (Wayne always figured this was a temporary name), they starting playing what they considered "death rock." Personnel changes came quickly and often (not surprisingly, mainly drummers), but with Wayne, Mark, and Michael Ivins on bass, the band opened for hardcore punk rock bands - even though Wayne listened to the Bee Gees and Led Zeppelin - making their first record in 1985. After his brother left, Wayne Coyne took over the vocals for their first release on Restless Records, Hear It Is, which was recorded in three days in 1986. Following its release, the band went on tour, and in no time, zoomed back through the studio to make another record. In two weeks in 1987 they made Oh My Gawd, which spawned a definite shift in sound to a wacky revivalist rock meets reverb-injected punk rock.
For the next record, Telepathic Surgery, Wayne and Co. began constructing "noise collages" and conducted "unscientific experiments" to investigate whether 30 hours without sleep would lead to hallucinations, which led into their next record In a Priest Driven Ambulance, which the band loved dearly but was a homeless disc because Restless was now out of the picture.
After cold-calling Warner Bros. Records ("Put me through to the people that signed Jane's Addiction"), Wayne was shocked when the major label agreed to bankroll the unpredictable future of the Lips. Record store clerk Scott Booker was persuaded to become the band's official manager, claiming, "They just liked me because I had a phone."
The band continued churning out records, including 1992's Hit to Death in the Future Head, and '93's Transmissions from the Satellite Heart, without much notice. But despite sales, 1992 was significant as multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd joined the band - a sign of good things to follow. When a DJ started to play "She Don't Use Jelly" on Oklahoma City Top 40 radio, the Lips finally had a minor hit. A slot on Lollapalooza was next, and the Flaming Lips were back on the road with what had now become their famously outrageous live show - confetti, bubbles, smoke, and more.
Clouds Taste Metallic was released in 1995, and Wayne's exploration of utilizing multiple pre-recorded sound sources manifested itself in their next release, Zaireeka, an album designed for simultaneous play on four separate sound systems. To showcase the record live, the band constructed "Parking Lot Experiments" and the "Boombox Experiment."
Made during difficult personal times for the band, 1999's The Soft Bulletin received massive critical success, including NME naming the Flaming Lips the 15th most influential band in the world.
Wayne then decided to start work on a film. "Christmas on Mars," a futuristic fairytale, sparked a zeal for spacey sci-fi electronic music, so the Lips followed with Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots in 2002. This was widely considered to be their first critical and commercial success after nearly 20 years together.
With the colossal success of the Lips' twelfth release, At War with the Mystics, the band surpassed everyone's expectations in sales and critical acclaim this year. Their trademark romp through psychedelia is met with zesty funky fusion and pure rock jams on the unpredictable and explosive trip. The band, with Wayne Coyne, Michael Ivins, Steven Drozd, and drummer Kliph Scurlock (who joined the Lips onstage family in 2002), is touring extensively, with sold out dates throughout the summer.