Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne has been performing with the same group for over 30 years, but he has absolutely no problem innovating. On Wednesday, Coyne announced via Twitter that the group is gunning for Jay-Z's Guinness World Record for the most shows played over 24 hours. The performances will be livestreamed as part of a promotional stunt for MTV's fledgling O Music Awards.
Starting on June 27, the Lips will try to perform eight shows over 24 hours in eight cities, starting in Memphis and concluding in New Orleans. Fans will be able to view all eight shows at omusicawards.com, on iPads and other mobile devices.
The trip, which Coyne lovingly described as "ridiculous," will feature a myriad of acts playing alongside Coyne and the Lips as they attempt to make history. Coyne sat down with Adweek to talk about the record and how he's consistently pushing the envelope with new technology.
On trying to break Jay-Z's record
"The fact that it's going to happen over 24 hours sort of goes with the mentality of what our group is about. It's the idea of the Magical Mystery Merry Pranksters bus starting in Memphis and going to New Orleans. You know, if I was 18 years old, I'd get a bunch of my friends and get some drugs and make the journey. It'd be awesome. We're not going to Afghanistan to dig bombs out of the sand; we're going to play some music. What's the worst that could happen?"
On pushing boundaries with technology
"I'm not really an early adopter. I'm around a lot of people who are into all this stuff. We were all talking the other day about Jack White and this idea of what punk rock is in this digital age, and sometimes I talk to groups and they relate to Jack White or the Black Keys and how they record on these old analog machines. They say it's very 'punk rock.' And I'm like, 'Wait a minute. That is not punk rock.'
"Punk rock is—I hate to say it, but it is true—the way Kesha and Chris Martin did it when they recorded their track on the record The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends with me. They grabbed their computer, used the microphones that are in their laptop, sang into it and sent it to me. That to me—what kids do now—they don't go buy some 40-year-old machine that costs thousands of dollars. That to me is the opposite of punk rock. It's grab this thing, scream into it."
On staying ahead of the curve
"With new technology, I'm just abusing anything I can for my own entertainment," Coyne laughed. Yet he seemed worried about being deemed a digital innovator.
"I'm not really at the forefront. I think if that's really what you were trying to do then it would be very boring. We're just trying to entertain ourselves. If we're at the forefront, then that is great too, but I think if you were trying all the time to do it, you wouldn't end up doing much. There's always going to be somebody beating you to the punch. I meet bands that worry that something has already been done. Who cares? I don't think about it being innovative or anything. I'm just doing what I like and hoping to get away with it."
How technology facilitates collaboration
For Heady Fwends, Coyne and the Lips collaborated with 13 other groups, a process he believes couldn't have happened without the seamless communication of the Web.
"I've still not met Justin Vernon [Bon Iver] or Jim James [My Morning Jacket]. With some collaborations, it all happened from sending emails to each other. I'd seen My Morning Jacket, texted their drummer and he gave me Jim's number and within 45 minutes—right before he left to go to the Grammy's—in his personal recording studio he gets the file, messes with it and gets it back. It's insane. I don't buy that it isn't authentic. What's authenticity? We made music."