30 years of The Flaming Lips

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30 years of The Flaming Lips

The Flaming Lips are celebrating 30 years in the music business this year, and in the last three decades the psych-cult pop band have built up a reputation as one of the most outlandish bands of all time. Here's some weird facts, odd trivia and strange tales...

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Added: 13 Jun 2013

Photo: Victor Frankowski/NME

30 years of The Flaming Lips

The band were signed by Warners after setting a venue on fire. Wayne Coyne explains: “We were doing shows with the Butthole Surfers where they would light a cymbal on fire with lighter fluid, and we would do that as well. We’d play really loud and just light shit on fire and play with it. When Warners came to sign us in Oklahoma, we thought ‘Fuck, man, let’s just burn the place down’. ”

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Added: 13 Jun 2013

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30 years of The Flaming Lips

After having a 1994 hit with ‘She Don’t Use Jelly’, the band appeared on Beverly Hills 90210.

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Added: 13 Jun 2013

Photo: Tom Martin/NME

30 years of The Flaming Lips

Their 1997 album ‘Zaireeka’ – a record made up of four CDs that had to be played simultaneously – grew out of parking lot experiments where they wouldd get dozens of car stereos to play tapes all at once.

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Added: 13 Jun 2013

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30 years of The Flaming Lips

The band have always been concerned with stage-craft. Wayne says that before their first shows at Oklahoma transvestite clubs in 1983, they went out and bought "smoke machines, strobe lights and echoplexes for a couple hundred bucks. In the early ‘80s those were the things nobody wanted anymore, everybody was buying the latest digital keyboards."

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Added: 13 Jun 2013

Photo: Derek Bremner/NME

30 years of The Flaming Lips

Recently, the band have been known to release music inside marijuana-flavoured gummy skulls and fetuses.

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Added: 13 Jun 2013

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30 years of The Flaming Lips

They also released a Valentine's Day album inside an anatomically correct chocolate heart. However, Wayne told NME: "I'm pegged as a Willy Wonka dude because we did the gummy skull too, but I'm not really into candy."

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Added: 13 Jun 2013

Photo: Tom Martin/NME

30 years of The Flaming Lips

Wayne now often performs while wearing giant hands, which eventually began to fire lasers. Wayne says: "The hands I had made, I don’t even remember why. I just liked the idea that I could have these giant hands, then it occurred to me later I could put lasers in them." They were once stolen at Australia's Southbound Festival, but later returned.

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Added: 13 Jun 2013

Photo: Dan Dennison/NME

30 years of The Flaming Lips

During their tour for 'Embryonic', the band would arrive onstage through a gigantic psychedelic vagina. Wayne admits he was initially unsure about the idea: “I didn’t think people would like it, but now we’re starting to play more of these fucking fun hippy festivals, it just seemed perfect. ‘Yeah man! You’re born and you play music!’”

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Added: 13 Jun 2013

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30 years of The Flaming Lips

In December 2009, the band released a track-by-track cover of Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’. The album also featured Stardeath and White Dwarfs, Henry Rollins And Peaches.

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Added: 13 Jun 2013

Photo: Victor Frankowski/NME

30 years of The Flaming Lips

Wayne Coyne recently confirmed that the band are also working on a cover of The Stone Roses' debut album in full. Wayne said: "The project is for my own stupid enjoyment. I just love, love, love that Stone Roses record."

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Added: 13 Jun 2013

Photo: Tom Martin/NME

30 years of The Flaming Lips

Oklahoma City airport once had to be closed down for an hour because Wayne had a golden hand grenade in his carry-on bag.

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Added: 13 Jun 2013

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30 years of The Flaming Lips

After the airport incident, Wayne offered a special treat to a fan who missed their flight as a result: the opportunity to take acid with him and Yoko Ono.

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30 years of The Flaming Lips

Wayne Coyne overcame stage nerves by pretending that a rubber nun hand-puppet was doing the singing. He says: ''In the beginning I felt a little self conscious about standing there singing. We were only playing to a couple hundred people so I can do this little thing where the nun is singing, and everyone could see it."

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Added: 13 Jun 2013

Photo: Derek Bremner/NME

30 years of The Flaming Lips

If you visit Wayne's house on Google Street View, he's in the garden in a metal bathtub below a sign reading 'Blob in the bath'. This wasn't planned, that's just a normal Wayne Coyne day.

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30 years of The Flaming Lips

Wayne married a couple onstage at Osheaga Festival in Montreal, blessing them with "the power of The Flaming Lips, the power of the universe, the power of Montreal, and the power of LSD."

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Added: 13 Jun 2013

Photo: Tom Martin/NME

30 years of The Flaming Lips

After falling out over an explicit music video they'd made together, Erykah Badu told Wayne to "kiss my glittery ass."

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Added: 13 Jun 2013

Photo: Tom Martin/NME

30 years of The Flaming Lips

Their album ‘In A Priest Driven Ambulance’ was recorded in a studio at the State University of New York that charged $5 per hour. The total budget for the album was $10,000.

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Added: 13 Jun 2013

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30 years of The Flaming Lips

In March 2009, ‘Do You Realize???’ was named the official rock song of Oklahoma, following a public vote.

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Added: 13 Jun 2013

Photo: PA

30 years of The Flaming Lips

While touring ‘The Soft Bulletin’, the band experimented with handing out headphones which picked up an FM transmission of the live show. They aimed to combine the clarity of the radio broadcast with the power of the live PA.

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Added: 13 Jun 2013

Photo: PA

30 years of The Flaming Lips

In February 2011, the band released ‘Two Blobs Fucking’. The song exists as 12 separate youtube videos, which must all be played simultaneously to fully experience the song.

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Added: 13 Jun 2013

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30 years of The Flaming Lips

While collaborating on 'The Flaming Lips And Heady Fwends', Ke$ha gave Wayne his first tattoo. Wayne told NME: "She's fun and crazy. When we arrived at her house for our session she brought out her tattoo gun and insisted we all got tattoos. I just got this dumb little face on my toe. The kind of tattoos she has are the mark of someone who truly does enjoy life, and I'm happy to have one."

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Added: 13 Jun 2013

Photo: PA

30 years of The Flaming Lips

In 2004, the band contributed the song ‘SpongeBob And Patrick Confront The Psychic Wall Of Energy’ to the soundtrack of The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie.

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Added: 13 Jun 2013

Photo: Victor Frankowski/NME

30 years of The Flaming Lips

Over June 27th and 28th 2012, the band broke the Guinness World Record for most live concerts in 24 hours. They played eight shows, starting in Memphis and ending in New Orleans. Each had to be at least 15 minutes long to meet Guinness Word Records rules.

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Added: 13 Jun 2013

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30 years of The Flaming Lips

There have been ongoing rumours that ‘West Wing’ creator and ‘The Social Network’ screenwriter Aaron Sorkin could be involved in adapting the band’s album ‘Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots’ as a Broadway musical.

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Added: 13 Jun 2013

Photo: Derek Bremner/NME

30 years of The Flaming Lips

At the centre of Oklahoma City’s entertainment district, Bricktown, is Flaming Lips Alley, which was named in 2006.

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Added: 13 Jun 2013

Photo: Derek Bremner/NME

30 years of The Flaming Lips

In 1999, NME named ‘The Soft Bulletin’ our album of the year.

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Added: 13 Jun 2013

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30 years of The Flaming Lips

The Flaming Lips’ low-budget indie film ‘Christmas On Mars’ took seven years to complete, with filming starting in 2001 before the movie finally premiered in 2008.

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Added: 13 Jun 2013

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30 years of The Flaming Lips

The band played their first show in 1983 at Oklahoma City’s Blue Note Lounge.

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Added: 13 Jun 2013

Photo: Victor Frankowski/NME

30 years of The Flaming Lips

For Mark Beaumont's interview with Wayne Coyne, looking back over the last three decades as the leader of The Flaming Lips' psych-pop cult, pick up this week's NME.

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Added: 13 Jun 2013

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