The Flaming Lips are known for pushing the boundaries of time and space with their music. Lead singer Wayne Coyne stopped in New York on his way to a 24-hour bus tour from Memphis to New Orleans for MTV’s O Music Awards, the band’s most epic performance since the 24-hour song it released in October 2011. “I can talk all day,” the singer announced upon arrival. But he has no trouble staying within 140 characters on Twitter. In our interview with Wayne Coyne, the singer shares his Twitter philosophy and a few of the unexpected connections he’s made through social media.
On June 27, the Flaming Lips will have to pass through at least 8 cities in order to break the Guinness World Records title for Most Live Concerts in 24 Hours that’s currently held by rapper Jay-Z. “It’s contrived,” Coyne said of performing on stage. “Everything is sort of set up so that you come out and you look cool. But what we really want to see is, what happens before that? What happens when you have to go pee?”
Rather than play to the online audience who will be watching the live stream of the tour, Coyne said the band will give each live audience a stand-alone show and fill in his online fans with the backstage moments that make the experience complete. “On my Twitter feed, I show people I’m peeing,” he said. “You would be amazed at how many people comment on that.”
Coyne is not shy about his process. During the interview, he sat with a camera pointed at his face while a dozen reporters took turns asking him questions. Coyne pulled out his mobile phone, snapped a picture of each person who interviewed him, and tweeted the photos to his followers.
Twitter has led to some surprising connections for the Flaming Lips, not the least of which was the band’s recent recording with the indie folk band Bon Iver on the “Ashes in the Air” track from the 2012 album, The Flaming Lips And Heady Fwends. One of Coyne’s friends had tweeted the band about a possible collaboration. “Within three hours of them connecting, I’m talking with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver,” said Coyne. “So yeah, I think it’s utterly amazing.”
What if Elvis Presley had been around for Twitter? Coyne imagined him with “a giant, weirdo fan base” that had a name like Lady Gaga’s little monsters. “Nowadays, him being bloated and fat would be a great thing,” Coyne added. “He would be more real.”
From the sound of it, dealing with fans on the Internet isn’t much different for Coyne than performing in front of a large crowd. “It isn’t that the world gets bigger, it’s that you get to be more interested in your own trip,” Coyne said. “You can endlessly find people that want to talk about you and you want to talk about them. Build your own little world.”