When we last left Wayne Coyne, he was all atwitter at the prospect of working with a real, live lion in a video for the Flaming Lips' "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song."
But it turns out his enthusiasm for the project (see "Flaming Lips Go To War Against Britney, Gwen On New LP") was tempered by a stern dose of reality: Lions are dangerous.
"Whenever a video company says they're going to put a lion in a video, I'm like, 'OK, what's the story with this lion? Is he a well-trained lion, or is it a lion from, like, Peru, where they don't have laws that restrict animal trainers?' " Coyne said. "And, indeed, when I spoke to the video company, they said that when they used monkeys or lions in their videos, they went to South America, where the restrictions are a bit lax.
"So that made me a bit nervous because a monkey is kind of fun, but a lion who chews your arm or face or body off would not be as much fun," he said. "And I wasn't terribly disappointed when they told me, 'We're not going to have a lion. We're going to have a werewolf.' So I thought, 'OK, obviously a werewolf is just a guy in a costume and not an actual werewolf. So I'll be safe.' "
That doesn't mean the "Yeah Yeah Yeah" clip is going to be tame. After all, this is the Flaming Lips we're talking about. So while Coyne is a bit bummed by the lack of a lion in the video, he still has plenty to be excited about — as evidenced by his description of the treatment.
"Well, there was this video clip on the Internet from this Japanese game show where they take these girls and strap a pork chop to their heads and they'd somehow send this Komodo dragon after them to get the pork chop," he explained. "And it's psychedelic, and the girls are cute, but it's just absurd. So I sent this to the video company, and we based the video on the idea of strapping food to people and then having monsters attack them."
OK, sounds interesting so far. But then Coyne ratcheted the crazy factor to dangerous levels: The clip is a three-act play that features a Homer Simpson-type character, corrupt cops, an army of obese men and a Paris Hilton look-alike.
"In the first scenario, we have a group of Japanese girls who abduct a Homer Simpson character, and they strap a bunch of cheeseburgers to him, and then we cut to this scene on a street in North Korea where I'm this sort of mean dictator," he said. "And I have a group of corrupt police officers — who are the rest of the band — and they have on chains. Then there's these huge fat guys, and you get the feeling that they've been starving for three days, and I'm tempting them with a cheeseburger. And so when the girls throw this guy through a secret door, he ends up on the streets of North Korea, and I let loose the fat guys and they attack him.
"In the second scenario, we abduct Paris Hilton and we strap donuts on her, and she emerges in a gymnasium where the corrupt cops are dividing up a bunch of drug money, and I'm tempting them with this delicious Krispy Kreme donut. And when Paris shows up, they immediately go and attack her," he said. "But like great Flaming Lips tales, we turn it on ourselves, so in the last scenario, I get abducted and the girls strap real, raw meat to my face and shoulders. And then they throw me into a street in Baghdad, where this werewolf chases me and captures me. So it ended up being great, and nobody ended up getting hurt except for me."
The Lips shot the "Yeah Yeah Yeah" video at the end of February in Los Angeles, and it's currently streaming on MTV Overdrive. Their new album, At War With the Mystics, hits stores Tuesday. After a series of gigs in Europe, they'll return to the United States to play a series of festivals, including stops at Sasquatch! in George, Washington; Lollapalooza in Chicago; and Austin City Limits festival in Texas.
For more from the Flaming Lips, check out the feature "At War With Complacency."