The Flaming Lips considers its Dec. 16 debut at The Criterion a long-awaited homecoming

With a new show and a new album, The Flaming Lips prove there’s no place like home. In many ways, the psychedelic and experimental rock outfit’s Dec. 16 show at The Criterion, 500 E. Sheridan Ave., serves as a rebirth celebration for the exciting year that lies ahead for The Lips.

It releases its new album, Oczy Mlody, on Jan. 13, Coyne’s birthday.

The project is the band’s first album-length release of all-original material since 2013’s The Terror.

Coyne and company embark on a 10-city European tour in January and February and then return to North America for dozens of live dates promoting their newest release before likely heading back overseas sometime in June.

It could be said that Coyne’s day of birth signals the opening of a new chapter for the band.

Lips frontman and lifelong local resident Wayne Coyne recently spoke with Oklahoma Gazette ahead of the band’s Dec. 16 show.

“I forget that [the release date] is my birthday, but I’m glad it is,” Coyne said. “It’s like a new beginning.”

Intense space

The upcoming Criterion show was conceived mid-summer as the band sought a space in the city large enough to test out its newest stage production.

Coyne said they rented the venue for a daytime rehearsal on Dec. 16 but were later approached by venue management, who said no acts were booked to perform there that night and invited the band to turn the practice into a true gig.

“We were like, ‘Oh fuck, we have a good chance here to do that,’” Coyne said, as the band’s touring show has morphed in recent years.

Coyne said fans will experience the push-pull of testing out a new set list, including four or five songs from Oczy Mlody, as the band — with cofounders Coyne and bassist Michael Ivins and longtime multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd, along with a roster of musicians that often features Derek Brown, Matt Duckworth, Nicholas Ley and Jake Ingalls — fine-tune their act for a busy first quarter of 2017.

Coyne said he is happy to bring a show to the relatively new downtown venue, which opened earlier this year.

He has seen a few shows there — My Morning Jacket in April and ScHoolboy Q in October — and said he is impressed with what he has seen.

“I like it because it reminds me of going to The Fillmore in San Francisco,” he said. “It reminds me of that type of room where everybody’s kind of standing up; there’s a lot of drinking and booze and it’s more intense.”

The musician compared the venue’s evenly distributed crowds to Tulsa’s historic Brady Theater venue.

“These are really the best types of shows that bands can do,” he said. “Your show and the volume of your music — everything is kind of hitting everybody with an equal intensity. It’s not where people on the arena floor get a little bit different of a show than the people up in the stands.”

Modern fairytale

In a press release announcing Oczy Mlody, Coyne compared the new album to what it would sound like if Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett and synthy new-age rapper A$AP Rocky took a journey together along Oz’s Yellow Brick Road.

The explanation is simultaneously surreal and appropriate for the album that features mythic song titles like “There Should Be Unicorns” and “One Night While Hunting for Faeries and Witches and Wizards to Kill.”

The project marries musical worlds that would intimidate or overwhelm most other bands.

In the Venn diagram of fanbases between Barrett’s ’60s psychedelia and the fashion rapper’s millennial following, there is not likely much crossover, but Coyne believes there probably should be.

He drew his comparison in part to express the fact that Oczy Mlody is the band’s densest project to date (and that’s saying a lot) and packs a distinguishable low-bass punch.

The Flaming Lips successfully employs the type of subwoofing rappers like A$AP use to convey aggression as a means of painting their own fantasy world of unicorns and euphoria.

“If we had considered that in the beginning, we probably would have thought, ‘Well, that sounds horrible,’” Coyne said. “But I think as it went, the production and the basic sound of the music came together little by little.”

The Lips started playing with a subwoofer in their studio in 2012. It progressively became louder and was used more often as time went on.

Perhaps partly due to recent influence from band friend Miley Cyrus, fatter synthetic sounds have grown on the aural preferences of Coyne and his mates.

The frontman said it has almost become hard for him to enjoy music without that rumbling bass.

“I think that shows in the record,” he said. “If you compare it to even one of our really hi-fi records like Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, it’s definitely got more fat. There’s a different weight to the whole thing.”

The Lips bring the fairytale into the future on its Oczy Mlody record. Coyne called the band’s fuller embrace of the newer, denser sounds a breakthrough.

“I think with just the way technology is and has pushed along, you can really get a lot of great, fat sounds,” he said. “And I think that has probably influenced us a lot too.”


Print headline: Criterion collection, The Flaming Lips’ first home city blowout in three years launches the psychedelic rock act’s newest album cycle

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