Wayne Coyne on Clouds Taste Metallic‘s 20th anniversary and that time he hung out at 4ZZZ in Brisbane.

Last month, I had the chance to speak with the legendary frontman of The Flaming Lips, Wayne Coyne, just before he arrived in Sydney for his free Sydney Festival show. You can read the first part of our chat HERE. In the second part of our conversation, we turned to the 20th anniversary of Clouds Taste Metallic and reflected on that time he spent a night at the 4ZZZ studios in Brisbane. Well, sort of…

You mentioned Clouds Taste Metallic, you ended last year celebrating its 20th anniversary and the release of a special box set for it. When a set like that is put together, how hands on are you in its compilation?

It was something we had considered for a little while, and some of it sadly is dictated by deadlines more than we’d like, so we have an extra bonus that’s coming out in April, for the next Record Store Day, that’s connected to that release. Because we have so many records, every year that goes by something turns ten or twenty… so sometimes we’ll say we’re celebrating 20 years, and then it will run into the next year and we’re saying “now we’re celebrating 21 years!”.

Not only do we control it though, we’re the ones who put these things in place, we’re the ones that wanted to do this Clouds Taste Metallic re-issue, because we had remastered the live double disc in there. There are these new mastering plug-ins you can use nowadays. I think we used 4 or 5 of them and got this live recording from way back when, that we’d had for a long long time, and I think we got it sounding utterly spectacular, compared to what it was. And I think it really showed what that dynamically freaky fucking group was back in 1996 when we played those shows.

Some of it, the playing is just phenomenal. It’s the most aggressively clumsy punk rock that we probably ever played. Also, with the most dynamic, precise prog rock we ever played at the exact same time. It wouldn’t be something that you’d think would work. And once we started to remix that a bit, it was a totally fun listen, and I didn’t realise just how dynamic all that was. It was such a bad mix before. So that was really the main reason we wanted to put that stuff out!

A few years ago when you were in Australia, you participated in a Zaireeka experiment at 4ZZZ in Brisbane after the Harvest Festival shows. Do you remember much of that night?

Yes I do remember it! I don’t think it really worked – everyone was trying to do it on their cell phones, right? – but it was a lot of fun, and I think everyone there was having a lot of fun. It wasn’t organised by me though, I think I was brought in just to see if it would work! I think when you draw it up on paper it seemed like maybe it could have… but music just doesn’t work like that, you can’t stand by a speaker in another room and feel like you’re involved. But the enthusiasm of the organisers overrode it all, and we all went along with it. I’m not sure if they thought it worked, or went really horribly… I don’t think anybody knew!

A bit of both I think!

*laughs* yeah! I think the idea of it is enough sometimes.

It was around 2 in the morning as well which I’m sure added to things…

Yes! How can you get everyone to focus when they’re in the mood to talk and party! Which is better than listening to music sometimes.

The 20th Anniversary edition of Clouds Taste Metallic is available now. 


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Larry Heath

Founding Editor and Publisher of the AU review. Currently based in Toronto, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter @larry_heath or on Instagram @larryheath.