Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne talks Hollywood Forever show, teases Edward Sharpe cameo, other surprises

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In the center of Hollywood right next to the Paramount Studios lot lies the Hollywood Forever cemetery, which, in addition to housing to the bodies of, among many others Cecil B. DeMille, Art Pepper, Yma Sumac, Johnny Ramone, John Huston, Virginia Rappe, Bugsy Siegel and Fay Wray, also serves as an outdoor film venue, art exhibitor and concert venue.

On Tuesday and Wednesday nights, the burial grounds will be loaned to Oklahoma psychedelic rock band the Flaming Lips, who will perform two classic albums, the band’s own ‘The Soft Bulletin’ and Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon,’ on successive nights. Needless to say, for a band known for its imaginative live and studio performances -- the notion of having a graveyard as a canvas was too tempting to pass up.


‘It’s got a lot of appeal to it, especially for us,’ lead singer Wayne Coyne said on the phone from the band’s Oklahoma City headquarters, ‘because we sing a lot about this idea of ‘death’ -- this idea of happiness and the realization of death, and what do we do with that? So there are a lot of great, powerful themes that you can play into as far as what it means to do all this stuff.’

Coyne said the ideas flowed as they were imagining the possibilities of the shows, and that the cemetery was open to the band’s ideas. ‘They said, ‘Wayne, you can use anything here you want to do the show. They showed me the bell tower, and your mind immediately goes to some, ‘Of course, the Flaming Lips could do something.’ You kind of think of it as like the way that John and Yoko did the bed-in for peace -- and people would just show up and we do this great rendition of ‘Do You Realize?’ while the sun comes up and everybody’s taking acid or something. I thought, why don’t we try?’

As an added bonus, teased Coyne, when the Lips were in Brazil recently, they ran into Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, mentioned the graveyard shows and invited them along. Unfortunately, they had a previous gig on Wednesday -- but fortunately, it’s on the Paramount lot. Coyne pitched them an idea: ‘You guys just come over and do this impromptu jam, and then we sort of do this troupe -- we just walk over to the bell tower and do this thing as the sun is coming up, at about 6:20 Wednesday morning. We don’t know if it’s going to be raining or what -- in the Steven Spielberg version of it, it’s going to be a perfect sunrise -- we don’t know. But if you don’t try, nothing will happen.’ In a few spots around the park, Coyne said, he envisions location-specific installations that will enhance the two-day experience: ‘There are a couple different places we’re going to set up some of our, what we call our ‘Trip-oleum’ area where you can walk through and there will be music playing, and there will be lights and projections and things that are kind of just there, that are apart from the show. So like in between groups and you’re walking and tripping ... or something, it’s another thing you can absorb.

‘I believe that we can make these special moments. We can make the shows and experiences be these unique, I don’t know, life-affirming, life-changing moments. But it doesn’t just happen if we don’t try.’


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-- Randall Roberts