“When we first started working on the new record, I was kind of stressed out because I thought the first couple of songs we did were fine and nice, but it didn’t feel like anything radically new was happening,” says Steven Drozd, keyboardist, drummer, and multi-instrumentalist for the Flaming Lips, speaking of the initial songwriting phase for the group’s latest album, At War With The Mystics, which came out in 2006.
That outlook is understandable. As much as any band in rock ‘n’ roll, the Flaming Lips have made a habit of making albums that sound radically fresh and daring. The first major creative leap came with the 1999 album, The Soft Bulletin. That record followed a major transition in the band, when guitarist Ronald Jones departed, turning the Lips into a trio consisting of Drozd, frontman Wayne Coyne, and bassist Michael Ivins. Some describe The Soft Bulletin as a pop symphony — a term certainly reflected in the varied instrumentation and the many moods of the music.
The open-minded musical approach carried over to both the 2003 CD Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots and now At War With The Mystics. The two CDs have continued to explore pop music on a grand scale.
“Wayne came to the studio with the riff for ‘The W.A.N.D.,’ and after we recorded that song, that really felt like, partly it felt like a return to rock-filled Lips, but then to me it sounded totally new,” Drozd says. “It’s got the guitar riff, but production and stuff and the way we recorded the drums, that was new for us as well. I felt like that shot us off in a new direction and after that we were kind of off to the races. On Soft Bulletin, we were doing this orchestral thing. Then Yoshimi is more electronic. And the new record is more rock, but it’s also got the electronic element.” —Alan Sculley
The Flaming Lips share the stage with Stardeath and The White Dwarfs at the House Of Blues (4640 Highway 17, 843-913-3740) on Tues. April 17. Showtime is 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $32.50. See www.hob.com and www.flaminglips.com for more.