Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips talks success, scandal

Studio 360

Story by PRI’s Studio 360. For more, listen to the audio above.

Lead singer, songwriter and guitarist for The Flaming Lips, Wayne Coyne doesn’t fit the mold of the average rock star. At 50 years old, Coyne still lives in his native Oklahoma. After several hit songs and over 30 years in the music business, Coyne and his bandmates never went “all Hollywood” either, as Studio 360 host Kurt Andersen puts it. As out-of-the-ordinary as that may seem these days, Coyne contends that there is a quality of The Flaming Lips’ music rooted in his home state.

“This music came from Oklahoma,” Coyne said. “It’s like Santa Claus coming from the North Pole or the Beatles coming from Liverpool. When you come from a place it evokes something.”

Whatever the Flaming Lips have evoked has turned into a legacy of 13 albums, elaborate crowd-pleasing stage shows, and songs that move people to tears. When asked about his 2002 hit song “Do You Realize?” Coyne noted what a joy it is to share that song with audiences.

“People just love, love, love this song,” Coyne said. “It’s the last song we play at the end of the night and people cry and are just overwhlemed sometimes with a happiness and satisfaction.”

Despite Coyne’s down-to-earth, homespun manner, he has been a flashpoint for badmouthing his peers in the past. Notably, Coyne has publicly called out big-name performers like Beck and the Arcade Fire for being, among other things, too egotistical. But when looking back on those instances, Coyne just shrugged it off.

“Who cares? This is music, this is art,” Coyne said. “We’re supposed to have opinions, we’re supposed to be weirdos.”


PRI’s Peabody Award-winning “Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen” from WNYC is public radio’s smart and surprising guide to what’s happening in pop culture and the arts. Each week, Kurt Andersen introduces you to the people who are creating and shaping our culture. Life is busy — so let “Studio 360” steer you to the must-see movie this weekend, the next book for your nightstand, or the song that will change your life.

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