My Favorite Album: Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips on The Beatles' "The White Album" | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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My Favorite Album: Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips on The Beatles’ “The White Album”

"Some of that music is haunting, it's beautiful, and it's strange, and it's happy, and it's sad, and it's fucked up, it's all the stuff."

Feb 06, 2020 Photography by George Salisbury Issue #66 - My Favorite Album - Angel Olsen and Sleater-Kinney
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The year is 1969. Eight-year-old Wayne Coyne and his older brothers anxiously gather around the record player to listen to The Beatles’ latest offering, a self-titled album released in November 1968 that is also known as The White Album.

“My older brothers and I loved it growing up,” recalls Coyne. “They loved The Beatles and their friends all loved The Beatles, and so me being eight years old around people who are 15, 16 years old, that really zapped my young mind…. For the longest time, being a very young person when all that’s happening, I just felt that The Beatles are great music, and they’re popular music and whatever they do must be what music is.”

As each song unfurled, Coyne found himself transfixed by the otherworldly magic that was penetrating his ears. There were “freaky” songs such as “Helter Skelter” and “Revolution 9” as well as the “normal classic songs.” With that “big combination of such an extreme of stuff that you can like or hate or be freaked out by,” Coyne has remained intrigued and fascinated by the album ever since.

“Some of that music is haunting, it’s beautiful, and it’s strange, and it’s happy, and it’s sad, and it’s fucked up, it’s all the stuff,” he says.

Coyne didn’t have any notion during that first listen that he would one day be in a band making music. But as he began performing, he used The White Album as inspiration to create his own magic as frontman for Oklahoma-based rock band The Flaming Lips. The Lips’ latest album King’s Mouth: Music and Songs, like much of their catalog, features a similarly wide-ranging sonic tapestry.

“I think it’s probably a magic opening in your subconscious,” Coyne says. “When you reach that you have access to these melodic memories that are attached to your emotions and stuff. I think I’m always hoping to trigger that.

“I don’t really know how to trigger it, but I try to do stuff that keeps me in a sleepwalker’s haze when I’m making music so I can have access to that deep melodic emotional stuff. I know if we try to do it with a conscious awareness in our minds, we can’t really do it.”

The Beatles have provided a “great optimistic jolt” for Coyne and a perfect teacher in how to become a musician. Since the band provided a documentation of their recording process, fans like Coyne could find out how they recorded the music.

“A lot of stuff was released about…how they got certain sounds…which to people who are making records, you just can’t wait to know ‘how did they do this?’,” he says.

Like many things in life, Coyne believes that the more you know about the process, the more magical it gets.

“There is no science, there is no breaking it down,” he says. “Some of it is just pureness to your heart. That really is the key to it. All the technical things, all the musical equations that you can come up with. Some of it is just comes down to the way they’re saying what they’re saying.”

[Note: This article originally appeared in Issue 66 of Under the Radar’s print magazine, which is out now. This is its debut online. For the issue we interviewed musicians and actors about their all-time favorite album.]

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