Liverpool and THE FLAMING LIPS are a perfect fit. On one hand you have the UK’s most lysergic city; on the other, rock music’s most outlandish band of space cadets. What could be more fitting?
Ahead of Wayne Coyne and co’s glitter and monsters headline show on the banks of the Mersey tonight, we asked some Liverpool musicians to pick out their favourite Flaming Lips songs and memories.
Race For The Prize
Becky Hawley: “I love the fact that the song’s massive hook is this widescreen, wordless sweep of a Disney-esque orchestra that wows and flutters so wildly as if it’s about to break itself apart at any moment. If a crowd is singing you back an instrumental hook you have to have something special going on. I love the thought of these two scientists locked in battle, striving boldly to save humankind, and all the 50s B-movie sci-fi imagery this throws up, that is brought hurtling earthbound by the realisation that they are but mere husbands and fathers.
“I’ve never seen them live before so am really excited for their set at Sound City. On record The Flaming Lips, like all great bands, have managed to create this heavily textured sonic environment that is unmistakably them. Plus they seem to genuinely not be scared of pushing themselves from album to album. They never let you get comfortable and are completely fearless to failure.”
HOOTON TENNIS CLUB
It Overtakes Me
Ryan Murphy: “The first and only time I saw The Flaming Lips live was at Parklife Festival in Manchester, way back in 2012. James and I were working there on the bar. I dodged the end of my shift by sneaking under a lorry load of Carling Extra Cold. I remember my girlfriend at the time was on my shoulders during the whole of their performance; we were right in the middle of the crowd. She was catching confetti and then helping to shove Wayne around in his zorb ball! I had terrible backache for the rest of the week.
“As for our favourite tracks, there are so many to choose from. I really like It Overtakes Me, from At War With The Mystics. The second half of that track is just lovely. I haven’t had chance to speak to the other lads about their choices: they’re too busy burning copies of disc three of our Zaireeka masterpiece…”
Waitin’ For A Superman
Chris McIntosh: “Just after Elliot Smith had killed himself I went to see The Flaming Lips play in the Apollo in Manchester. Wayne Coyne spent about ten minutes talking about how sad he was about it and how much of a beautiful person he was, before going into an emotionally drenched version of Waitin’ For A Superman. There wasn’t a dry eye in there… it was just crushing.
“About six or seven years later, we were playing a festival on the west coast of Ireland in a place called Kilkee. The night before our gig, we headed down to the beach to have a BBQ and some drinks and we took our guitars down with us and played some songs. A few people came and sat and drank with us until it went dark. One of the guys who came and sat with us asked me if I knew how to play Waitin’ For A Superman… I did, obviously, but he went on to tell us that he’d just got out of hospital. He’d spent the last six months believing he only had a year to live after being told by doctors that he had cancer and that it was terminal, only to be later told that they had made a mistake and he didn’t have cancer at all. He said he’d listened to the song a lot during this time and it had helped him a great deal. It felt really poignant when we played it for him, albeit dead drunk… It’s such a weighty and powerful song. I’ll probably be in tears later on!”
Do You Realize??
Alfie Skelly: “It could be done in any genre and it would still be unreal. You can imagine it being sung by The Ronettes, The Beach Boys or even by the likes of Katy Perry, it would still be an undeniable tune. It’s hard to capture that simplicity in music and they did. Any artist would give their left nut to have written that tune. I love how the whole show – from the lighting rig and the artwork to the performance – is all from the band’s imagination. It’s what has given them the live reputation they have now.”
A Spoonful Weighs A Ton
Johnny Sands: “I love this track because it’s like three tracks in one! It starts in a John Lennon, Neil Young piano/string ballad kind of way, quickly evolving into a beast halfway through with crashing drums, and concluding with a cool little Casio-esque beat. The Flaming Lips always have off that off-the-wall sound with experimental arrangements, but there’s always a cool song lying underneath! It will be my first time seeing them live at Sound City, I can’t wait!”
The Abandoned Hospital Ship
Matthew Duncan: “It wasn’t hard for me to choose my favourite Flaming Lips track. The Abandoned Hospital Ship is one of those tracks that really gives me tickles in my stomach. It starts off sounding like a beautiful ballad that you could actually imagine being in the Top 40 or something, with its vocal melody, acoustic guitar and piano. But there’s all these added textures of a lo-fi sounding recording, a little guitar trill and slight distortion at some points. The lyrics are also stunning.
“I’ve never seen them live and I can’t wait to. I love how they perform as well in all their crazy costumes with confetti cannons and little monsters on stage. I CAN’T WAIT!!!”
Ali – Bad Days
Alex – Yeah Yeah Yeah Song
Parry – Race For The Prize
Sam – Spideys Curse
Ali Horn: “The live show is a complete sensory overload. I saw them at Glastonbury in 2010. They walked on through a massive vagina projected on to the back wall; glitter bombs didn’t stop going off; the stage was covered in brightly-coloured, alien-looking (and sounding) instruments; Wayne Coyne was walking on the crowd inside a giant ball; Hari Krishna-like backing dancers… the list goes on. They seem to live in a world that is completely carefree and self-contained, thinking that every crazy idea that comes into your mind could come to life. I was hooked and badly wanted be a part of it. Still do.
“They make you wanna cry with happiness and kiss your friends and go out into the world and create and love and be yourself. It’s a beautiful experience and Liverpool is in for a hell of a Saturday night.”