Wayne Coyne

Wayne Coyne is the Flaming Lips’ major domo. Lead vocalist and ringmaster for these Oklahoma art provocateurs, he logged in time as a teenage pot dealer and fry cook at Long John’s Silver for 11 years before his band really took off—jobs that he claims were excellent preparation for fronting this band. But never more so than with the band’s last album, Embryonic. While the band members are still wearing the pink bunny suits onstage, they’re feeling anything but warm and fuzzy, Coyne talks about his dreams, his hair, and his passion for music.

How would you describe your own belief system?
Well, I don’t even know if it has a term other than just I believe my own experiences. People like the idea that there’s this other dimension that has answers, and that there is some destiny out there and, I mean, in a sense all that is just delusional thinking.

Many of your songs are so phantasmagoric. Do you get any of your inspiration in dreams?
Well, no. I mean sometimes I’ll see things in dreams but for the most part no. Most of my dreams are just, you know, ridiculous, nonsensical things that occasionally you get to have sex with aliens.

Do you write all the time or, like Lucinda Williams, do you keep every scrap of lyric that you’ve ever written?
I think that’s the biggest misconception, it must be some illusion that you just have all these ideas stored up and then the minute you go to make a record or write a novel or do a movie or whatever, they just come out in that. I’m not like that either. Every time, I’m hitting a blank page. From 1984 on, when we made our first record, I’m always like, “I got nothing.” I’m in a panic.

Where are you most yourself, offstage or onstage?
Well, it wouldn’t be onstage, but when you’re sitting around and watching TV at your house picking your nose and whatever, isn’t either. But I’m lucky in the way that I kind of am the person that’s onstage. To me it’s kind of like going to court, you know. I want people to know the real me. I don’t want them to walk away with a bad impression or get the wrong idea of what I’m saying here. I mean it’s funny to say, but I remember talking to Nick Cave at Lollapalooza and he had diarrhea. And he had to go up there and sing. It’s like, well, time to go on. It’s like what are you going to do? You’re like, well, I’ve probably told this story a hundred times but he’s like, “Well, when I go to scream really loud I’ve just got to hold my ass.” And he screams really great. But I’m just saying, it’s like there is an element of like, real life is happening to you but it doesn’t really matter because you have to go out there and just be yourself.

What do the Flaming Lips do better than anyone else?
I think we do that thing where we and the audience are in awe of the same thing. If you stand in a room where people are going crazy for an hour, it doesn’t matter what is happening. You’re going to have a great experience. And so I think when we play and the audience is there, we kind of make a pact with each other that we are going to get to that point. We’re going to get to where you guys are going crazy, and we’re making music that looks like you’re going crazy, so we can all experience it together. I’m sure other bands have experienced it but I’m not sure they understand the alchemy of that in the same way. The Flaming Lips understand the chemistry of rapture.

You named the band Flaming Lips. You use a lot of Chapstick. You always said you were attracted to your wife because she has tremendous lips. What’s your favorite body part?
I don’t know if I’ve thought about it too much. If I had to pick something that I thought has worked for me, I would pick my hair. I mean Michelle will tell me that. You know, something like, well, there you go. I’ll put on a hat, she’ll be like, “Why are you putting on a hat?” and I’ll be like, “I don’t know, I thought it looked cool.” It’s like, “Not as cool as your hair.” I’m like, well, there you go. It’s just a dumb fluke, you know. But yeah, see, it’s better to know what it is. To be alive this long and not know, you know, would be wrong.

– Jaan Uhelszki

This reading is by Lena, who has no idea this palm belongs to Wayne Coyne.

1. Passionate and sensuous, with a strong tendency to cling to anything that has given pleasure in the hope that it will do so again.

2. A great dreamer, but he doesn’t dream in words; he dreams in colors, images, textures and other sensations for which we have no names.

3. Also has a strong ascetic bent. His sensuousness can focus on the mental sensations caused by asceticism as well as carnal pleasure (such as the high one gets from fasting and the like).

4. Extremely long life line, surprising in one who is so brave, sensuous and impulsive. Has a really strong constitution—and needs it!

5. Extremely brave. Does not count the risks. Fortunately this is coupled with a long lifeline, so it probably won’t kill him!

6. This one’s lifestyle will be far outside the norm—any norm—of any culture. He will make it up to suit himself as he goes along.

7. The only health issues here appear to be a tendency toward headaches, which appear to be caused primarily by his own enthusiasms! When he pushes the envelope too far in any direction he’ll get the mother of all headaches.

8. He’d be a great leader if anyone wanted to go in the direction he is going, except that he is going in such an odd direction—through strange dimensions—that it would take an extraordinary follower to follow him.

9. Quite capable of planning, but things will never go the way he plans and intends them to. He’s fast enough on his feet, however, to make good use of the serendipity of the way they do go.

10. Retains things he likes, things that have given him pleasure, often far beyond their ability to be useful and give pleasure anymore. This will include friends, lovers and clothing that he has outgrown and can’t bear to part with because they were fun at one time and might be so again!

11. Intelligent and practical in all matters except those of the heart. Practical in work, practical in career, reasonably practical with money, but not at all practical in choice of lovers.