Photo: Josh Welch
Words by Andrew Parks
While we’ve always loved everything about Wayne Coyne—his loose-lipped social media presence, his bittersweet lyrics, and his undeniable skills as a showman in an era that’s sorely lacking them—one thing that always gets lost in Flaming Lips features is just how crucial Steven Drozd is to the band’s well-being. Long considered the secret weapon of their songwriting, the multi-instrumentalist/sometime singer is arguably the reason why the group’s last couple LPs (2009′s Embryonic and this week’s The Terror) are bleak but strangely beautiful journeys into the heart of the human condition, about as far removed from the hamster wheels and finger puppets of Flaming Lips shows as one can get.
Although that’s kinda always been the point—cloaking their carbon monoxide-clouded songs in carnival barker costuming, so that their decidedly dark narrative of death and despair feels therapeutic rather than downright despondent.
“How do I say this without sounding like a pompous douchebag?” asks Drozd, when we reach him at his Oklahoma home. “I just think there’s enough good music to back up the gimmickry and the extra stuff that we do. With the new record, if anybody things were trying to sell a million records by being a pop band, they definitely won’t think that when they hear it. It’s not an intentional sabotage, but it’s definitely not in the category of ‘Hey, let’s try to sell a million records and make pop hits!’”
Indeed. Discussed in the following extensive interview, then: sustained sadness, learning to let go, the misreported romanticism of drug addiction, what it feels like to finally getting things right, the benefits of listening to The Terror at 5 a.m. after taking Ecstasy, and why the group’s last album was much, much harder to make than this one…
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