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Michael Ivins, Wayne Coyne, and Steven Drozd

The Flaming Lips are an alternative rock band from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. They formed in 1983 and have become one of the most well known cult bands of the past 25 years. They began as a punk band but became more and more eclectic and psychedelic with the passing years. They also moved from indie labels to Warner Bros Records early in The Nineties, where they've remained since.

The band had a Revolving Door Band for years, but since 1993 it's more or less been the lineup of singer/guitarist/keyboardist Wayne Coyne, bassist/keyboardist Michael Ivins - the two of whom founded the band - and longtime drummer/guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd.[1] Recently, Drozd moved mainly to guitar duties, with Kliph Scurlock joining as a drummer starting with Embryonic, and live guitarist/keyboardist Derek Brown was also promoted to full band member.

The band's song "Do You Realize??" is officially the State Rock Song of their home state of Oklahoma.

Studio album discography

  • Hear It Is (1986)
  • Oh My Gawd!!! (1987)
  • Telepathic Surgery (1989)
  • In a Priest Driven Ambulance (1990)
  • Hit to Death in the Future Head (1992)
  • Transmissions from the Satellite Heart (1993)
  • Clouds Taste Metallic (1995)
  • Zaireeka (1997)
  • The Soft Bulletin (1999)
  • Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002)
  • At War with the Mystics (2006)
  • Christmas on Mars OST (2008)
  • Embryonic (2009)
  • The Dark Side of the Moon [2] (2009)
  • The Flaming Lips And Heady Fwends [3] (2012)

This band provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Yoshimi in "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots".
  • And Starring: Their full length cover of Dark Side of the Moon, which is jointly credited to The Flaming Lips and Stardeath and White Dwarfs (a band founded by one of Wayne Coyne's nephews), along with Henry Rollins and Peaches.
  • Ascended Extra: Kliph Scurlock was originally hired as a touring drummer for the Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots tour, due to Steve Drozd branching out to keyboards and other assorted instruments, but was eventually brought in as the band's full-time drummer.
    • Similarly, touring backing vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Derek Brown also recently became a full-time member.
  • Broken Record: The hidden track on the album Hit to Death in the Future Head, which is simply the outro to the song "The Magician vs. The Headache" repeated for close to a half-hour.
  • Brown Note: Zaireeka has a warning label on the front stating that "on rare occasion" the various frequencies used on the album have caused listeners to become disoriented.
  • Christmas Special: Sort of.
  • Concept Album: Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots has a (brief) narrative arc. "Clouds Taste Metallic" has songs about animals, Christmas, and, er, animals during Christmastime.
    • Yoshimi isn't really the best example of a concept album, because only the first four tracks have anything to do with one another. Their most recent album, Embryonic, fits the description much more accurately, what with the recurring unnamed female protagonist, the subplot about the earth-visiting alien, the preoccupation with astrology and the cosmos (including several zodiac-named tracks), the perpetual themes of existentialism, the insignificance of humanity, and the search for meaning and morality, etc.
  • Cover Album: The band decided to do a whole-album cover of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, which turned out exactly as bizarre as you'd expect
  • Cover Version: Apart from the Dark Side of the Moon album, these are quite rare on their albums. The reissue of Hear It Is has a cover of "Summertime Blues" by Eddie Cochran, In a Priest Driven Ambulance has a cover of "What a Wonderful World", Transmissions from the Satellite Heart has a cover of Ed Cromarty and George Rush's "Plastic Jesus"[4], At War With the Mystics' iTunes release has a cover of "Killer Queen" (originally recorded for a tribute album) among the bonus tracks, Heady Fwends has a cover of Ewan MacColl's "The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face" (in collaboration with Erykah Badu)... and oh yeah, the A Collection of Songs Representing an Enthusiasm for Recording...By Amateurs compilation also brings up covers of "Strychnine" by The Sonics (mashed with Elvis Costello's "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding"), "Death Valley '69", "Thank You" and "After the Gold Rush".
  • Crossover: They once did a crossover performance with Beck.
    • They also toured with Beck on his Sea Change tour in 2002.
  • Darker and Edgier: Arguably Embryonic; while many of the band's songs have touched on dark subjects before, Embryonic as a whole is almost unrelentingly dark.
  • Determinator: Wayne Coyne has never given up on the band, and his work ethic is reportedly rather impressive.
  • Distinct Double Album: Embryonic, which was deliberately crafted to be a double album from the start. (Although standard edition versions of the CD still have it at one disc, mainly to cut on manufacturing costs)
    • Inverted with Zaireeka: while it's split across four CDs, all four CDs are actually meant to be played simultaneously.
  • Drugs Are Bad: According to the Fearless Freaks documentary, former guitarist Ronald Jones left the band due to paranoia about Steven Drozd's drug addiction.
  • Epic Rocking: "7 Skies H3", which is 24 hours long. This following on from "Found a Star on the Ground", at six hours. There's also a noise loop on Hit To Death In The Future Head that's almost half an hour long.
  • Excited Show Title: Oh My Gawd!!!...The Flaming Lips
  • Fan Disservice: The music video for "Watching the Planets". Wayne Coyne, you're almost 50 years old. Enough said.
  • From a Certain Point of View: "...the sun doesn't go down, it's just an illusion caused by the world spinning 'round"
  • Gratuitous Panning: taken Up to Eleven with Zaireeka - the instruments are spread out across 4 separate discs, which are meant to be played simultaneously on 4 different stereos spread out around one room.
  • Greatest Hits Album: Oddly, given how long and varied the band's career has been up to this point, only one actual hits album has been released, A Collection of Songs Representing an Enthusiasm for Recording...By Amateurs, and even that only covers songs from the band's first four albums.
  • Guest Star Party Member: Their recent albums have included a few, including:
    • Boredoms drummer and OOIOO founder Yoshimi P-We providing guest vocals (read: screams) for "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots pt. 2" from the album of the same name.
    • MGMT providing additional instrumentation on Embryonic's "Worm Mountain".
    • Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs providing vocals for Embryonic tracks "I Can Be a Frog" and "Watching the Planets".
    • And in a rather bizarre note, German mathematician Dr. Thorsten Wörmann provides spoken word bits to "Gemini Syringes".
  • Hidden Track: Only one has appeared on the band's albums so far, but given that it's an untitled track consisting solely of the outro to one of their other songs looped for nearly a half-hour, it's hard to say whether it actually counts or not.
  • Limited Special Collectors Ultimate Edition: Many of the band's recent releases have had this. Of note are the limited edition of their Christmas on Mars film that included a box of Flaming Lips popcorn and the limited edition version of Embryonic that came packaged in a small, furry box.
    • Taken to extremes with new songs the band has been releasing as of 2011. So far, all of them have been released in small-run, extremely limited quantities batches, including a split 10" with Neon Indian pressed to hand-colored vinyl, and four songs released on a USB stick stuck inside a life-size replica of a human skull made out of gummi candy.
  • Long Title: Almost to the point of self-parody. Among the most infamous are "One Million Billionth of a Millisecond on a Sunday Morning" and "What Is the Light? (An Untested Hypothesis Suggesting That the Chemical [In Our Brains] by Which We Are Able to Experience the Sensation of Being in Love Is the Same Chemical That Caused the "Big Bang" That Was the Birth of the Accelerating Universe)".
    • Also leaks into the titles of the band's albums and EPs from time to time, including Due to High Expectations, The Flaming Lips Are Providing Needles for Your Balloons and The Flaming Lips and Stardeath and White Dwarfs with Henry Rollins and Peaches Doing The Dark Side of the Moon.
  • Moral Guardians: When "Do You Realize??" was chosen as the official Oklahoma state rock song, the decision was unaminously approved in the Senate but fell three votes short in the House of Representatives, where one representative criticised the band's use of "offensive language" and another claimed to be offended by how Ivins had worn a T-shirt depicting the hammer and sickle at the official announcement ceremony.[5] Considering that the Lips have put out songs like "Jesus Shootin' Heroin" and EPs like Yeah, I Know It's a Drag... But Wastin' Pigs Is Still Radical, it's interesting how this was the only time they ever came to Moral Guardians' attention.
  • Morality Ballad: "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song (With All Your Power)".
  • New Sound Album: Has happened a few times in the band's catalogue, largely spurred on by personnel changes.
  • Non Actor Vehicle: Christmas On Mars
  • Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Right now they're on Neo-Romantic Psychedelic Punk Soundscapes. Check back tomorrow.
  • The Invisible Band: In the video for "Do You Realize??"
  • One-Hit Wonder: Before "Do You Realize??" they were tagged as one of these for their goofy novelty single, "She Don't Use Jelly".
  • One Word Title: Embryonic
  • The Pete Best: There have been a few that would fit this bill, such as original vocalist Mark Coyne (who only appears on the band's debut EP), and the drummers the band went through prior to their first permanent drummer Richard English.
  • Power Trio: The band has been this at two separate points during their career, the first during the 80s (with Wayne Coyne on guitar, Michael Ivins on bass, and Richard English on drums and piano), and the second during the late 90s/early 00s (with Wayne Coyne on guitar, Michael Ivins on bass, and Steve Drozd on drums, keyboards, and damned near any other instrument you can think of)
  • The Quiet One: Michael Ivins
  • Record Producer: Dave Fridmann, who has produced nearly all of the band's albums since In a Priest Driven Ambulance. "Nearly" because he was too busy with Mercury Rev and was replaced by Keith Cleversley for Transmissions from the Satellite Heart. Interestingly, this wasn't as big a change as it might seem since Cleversley had previously engineered Hit to Death in the Future Head, and Satellite Heart itself doesn't sound significantly different.
  • Rockumentary: The Fearless Freaks
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: The song title "Riding to Work in the Year 2025 (Your Invisible Now)".
    • Possibly, although it could also be referring to "you" in the possessive sense, in that you are "possessing the invisible now." Knowing how bizarre Wayne is, it wouldn't be surprising.
  • Sampling: Some of the band's early songs had this, such as "Can't Stop the Spring" and "Love Yer Brain" from Oh My Gawd!!, and "Hell's Angel's Cracker Factory" from Telepathic Surgery
  • Self-Titled Album: Well, more like Self-Titled EP, but still.
  • Serial Escalation: If you thought Zaireeka was crazy for being an album that requires four CDs to all be played simultaneously, the band recently released a free song via their YouTube channel called "Two Blobs Fucking." This one's split into twelve separate videos intended to be played simultaneously. Hope you have 11 friends with smart phones handy!
    • Another of the band's releases for this year was the song "I Found a Star on the Ground," which is 6 hours long. If that isn't enough, the band is currently working on another song that's slated to be 24 hours long.
  • Sesame Street Cred: They've appeared on Yo Gabba Gabba, doing a version of the Embryonic song "I Can Be a Frog"
  • Something Blues: "Charlie Manson Blues" from Hear It Is, "Talkin' 'bout the Smiling Deathporn Immortality Blues (Everyone Wants to Live Forever)" from Hit to Death in the Future Head
  • Textless Album Cover: Embryonic
  • This Trope Is Bleep: Likely as a joke, the Satellite Heart packaging replaces the title of "Plastic Jesus" with "★★★★★★★".
  • Truck Driver's Gear Change: In the middle of "Do You Realize??", usually accompanied by very loud cheers at live shows.
  • What Could Have Been: It's been noted by the band and other sources that Zaireeka was originally intended to be a 10 CD box set as opposed to the four that they eventually ended up releasing.
    • Some of the mystery of how the 10 CD version would have sounded has been answered, however, due to the band passing out special CDs containing a mixdown of what discs 5-10 would have included during special listening parties to commemorate Zaireeka's 10th anniversary.
  1. They had an additional guitarist, Ronald Jones, between 1991-1996.
  2. With Stardeath and White Dwarfs, plus Peaches and Henry Rollins. Cover of the Pink Floyd album.
  3. A collaborative album featuring Kesha, Bon Iver, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, Prefuse 73, Tame Impala, Jim James (from My Morning Jacket), Nick Cave, Lightning Bolt, Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band, Neon Indian, Erykah Badu, New Fumes, and Chris Martin (from Coldplay). Released exclusively on vinyl for Record Store Day.
  4. probably best known for appearing in Cool Hand Luke
  5. No prizes for guessing their party affiliation.