Maha: Flaming Lips' crazy show gets a bit heavier


“The Terror” is a heavy record. And the Flaming Lips have a heavier show.

The band was known over the years for having confetti, dancers dressed up in bright costumes and frontman Wayne Coyne rolling out over the audience in a plastic bubble fans call “the hamster ball.”

The Flaming Lips, which headline Maha Music Festival, have changed that a little.

As Steven Drozd, who joined the band as its drummer and is now the band's primary composer, put it: “It's not the same joyous celebration.” Songs from “The Terror” contrast with more celebratory rock tunes such as “Do You Realize” and “Race for the Prize.” The band wanted to do something different but not be off-putting to both casual or regular fans.

“We were just so relieved to not do the same ... thing,” Drozd said. “Some people are still maybe bummed out we're not doing the big party show.”

Even though there's no hamster ball or dancers, there's still confetti and plenty of weird, wild, crazy stuff onstage.

“I really love the black confetti. It looks like a swarm of locusts that comes out,” Drozd said. “We still have a crazy light show, and it's even more extreme. It looks unreal. There's some really, really fun stuff going on.”

Festivals make for a different sort of show, too. The Flaming Lips love playing to festival audiences ready to have a good time.

“The Terror” came up while the band was making a collaborative album called “Heady Fwends.”

Drozd began work on the album as a way to kill time. Coyne heard what Drozd was working on, and they decided it would be the next Flaming Lips album.

“It just happened so easily,” he said. “It was the easiest Flaming Lips record that I've ever made.”

Making the album — which is brooding, dark and droning — happened shortly after Coyne's relationship with his wife ended and Drozd briefly relapsed into drug use. But Drozd cautioned that people shouldn't read too much into that.

“People read too much rock history or something. Like you have to be some suffering loser to make sad music,” Drozd said. “People like a good story.”

Coyne even mentioned Drozd's drug use in an interview and said that he was suicidal, but that was blown out of proportion, Drozd said. Coyne likes to tell stories to sell the ideas behind the music, which makes the whole thing seem heavier.

It's a different record, and reception has been mixed. Drozd said he's happy the album has received many different reactions because that means it's connecting with people.

And even though the band takes on weird projects — say, a 24-hour song on a hard drive embedded in a gummy skull — the band is still signed to major label Warner Bros., where it has been for more than 20 years.

“They don't expect the Foo Fighters. I know they're glad we're still on the label. We're one of the flagship bands now,” Drozd said. “They tell the young bands, 'The Flaming Lips have been on here since 1991.' We get to do what we want.”







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