By Zachary Swickey
What kind of band would release new music on a USB drive located inside the brains of a psychedelic, seven-pound gummy skull? Why, the Flaming Lips, of course. For reasons apparent only to them, they've been hard at work delivering new music each month of 2011 in unconventional ways ... last month, they released a (relatively straightforward) 12" EP with noise-pop darlings Neon Indian, and now, they've concocted gummy skulls. In a way, it makes perfect sense for a band that sold silver trembling fetus Christmas tree ornaments.
And on Wednesday (April 20), after months of gelatinous trial and error — and, in celebration of a different "holiday" — Lips' mastermind Wayne Coyne personally delivered the first set of skulls to Guestroom Records in the band's hometown of Oklahoma City ... at exactly 4:20 p.m. And I was there. Unfortunately, so were a lot of Lips other fanatics, meaning I didn't get my hands on one of the skulls (only 500 were made).
Still, it was a pretty cool opportunity to hang out with Coyne, who asked us to help carry the skulls inside the shop, and before purchases could be made, showed us an "making of" video on his iPhone.
"You know, we weren’t even sure a USB could survive what we wanted to do to it, so we had to test it out first," he told the room. "The drive has to be thrown in while the gumminess is above two hundred degrees. Of course, we had to eat our way in."
After it was clear that the five gummy skulls he had brought wouldn’t cut it, Coyne hopped right back in his truck to drive home and fetch more. Still, only a handful of skulls were sold, and there’s no telling when and where the rest might show up ... though perhaps they'll roll out more at any number of their upcoming weirdo-rock-freakouts, including a set of live shows at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery (capped off with a collaborative performance with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros inside of a bell tower) and an LP with Prefuse 73. Coyne has mentioned his desire to work with everyone from Jimmy Page to James Murphy. Oh, and could someone please let Lykke Li know they’re looking for her?