“We are working on a song that is going to be in the Ender’s Game epic movie that’s coming out at the end of the year,” Wayne Coyne revealed to Huffington Post back in August - referring to Gavin Hood’s new adaption of Orson Scott Card’s 1985 novel. “We’re going to pursue making a bit more of an expanded five or six song record that goes along with the theme and the stuff that we did for that movie.” Due out stateside this Halloween weekend, The Ender’s Game is described on IMDB as “an unusually gifted child… sent to an advanced military school in space…[prepares] for a future invasion…70 years after a horrific alien war.” The movie stars Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, and Ben Kingsley and features an original score by Steve Jablonsky in addition to the Lips’ music.
Both “Peace Sword (Open Your Heart)” - the song in the film – and the five other songs that comprise the Peace Sword EP are streaming now. Expanding on their contribution to the flick, the Peace Sword EP limited edition vinyl and CD editions will be released as part of Record Store Day’s “Back to Black Friday” on November 29, 2013. It is also set for release digitally on October 29th, though only the first five tracks (pre-order here). Stream the full release now by clicking the song titles in the tracklist below, or watch the film trailer that follows. Scroll down further for more details on the film, the controversy (and the Lips’ response) over Orson Scott Card’s intolerant beliefs, the creation of the Peace Sword EP, artwork and selected lyrics.
Click Song Title To Stream
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1 “Peace Sword (Open Your Heart)” – 5:11
2 “If They Move, Shoot ‘Em” – 5:39
3 “Is The Black At The End Good” – 6:22
4 “Think Like A Machine, Not A Boy” – 3:29
5 “Wolf Children” – 5:14
6 “Assassin Beetle – The Dream Is Ending” – 10:01 (CD and vinyl editions only)
“While the novel delves deep into Ender’s psyche and the pressures that are placed on an adolescent who has been thrust into battle,” Paste notes, “the film seems to place a hefty focus on the action-packed warzone that the child has found himself in.” Although Ender’s Game has already received a lot of buzz, it’s also received backlash from gay rights groups in reaction to Card’s outspoken religious and political beliefs (particularly his 1990 essay “The Hypocrites of Homosexuality”). At the center of the protests is Geeks Out’s Skip Ender’s Game campaign, started around the time the first trailer surfaced online this past spring. Card responded in an Entertainment Weekly exclusive this July, stating “Ender’s Game is set more than a century in the future and has nothing to do with political issues that did not exist when the book was written in 1984. With the recent Supreme Court ruling, the gay marriage issue becomes moot. The Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution will, sooner or later, give legal force in every state to any marriage contract recognized by any other state. Now it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute.” Likewise director Gavin Hood and co-producer Bob Orci spoke about the controversy with Huffington Post at San Diego’s Comic-Con in July.
Hood: “I do not agree with Orson Scott Card’s position on gay marriage. But, I love “Ender’s Game” the book. And that’s something that one has to reconcile in one’s own head. That’s really our position.“
Orci: “At first, as you’re saying, we were, ‘Yes, this is a difficulty.’ We’ve come to embrace the fact that this actually gets to be a conversation. And we actually get to sit here and say that we support human rights and we support what’s going on in this country right now and that it’s trending in the right direction. And without this conversation, we wouldn’t be able to say that. We wouldn’t be talking about that. And the book is about tolerance and understanding differences and bullying. And, so, it’s actually turned out to be oddly relevant to the book and it turns out that the book itself is the biggest advocate of the position.“
The media has been weighing in on the controversy as well, such as Flavorwire:
“To launch a mass boycott of an studio-funded film based on a novel written by someone who also — two decades ago — expressed how his religious beliefs informed the way he looks at the evolution of societal norms is a pretty silly non-event, one that only brings more attention to Ender’s Game, as well as the Geeks Out group (which, I’m betting, was the major goal of its campaign). To see Ender’s Game in no way amounts to personal support for Card or homophobia, just as seeing Twilight isn’t a show of support for abstinence and re-watching a Roman Polanski film is not an endorsement of statutory rape. There comes a time to separate the art from the artist, and considering there’s nothing in Ender’s Game that mirror Card’s religious views or opinions of homosexuality, a gay-themed boycott of the film is a silly and childish reaction...”
To some the boycott isn’t an issue of separating art from the artist though, but rather an attempt to keep an outspoken anti-gay rights writer from financial profit. The protest has spilled over into discussion on several of Wayne’s Instagram posts about the EP (some now deleted in the service’s ban of Coyne’s former account). In response to criticism of the Lips association with the film Wayne clarified, “Our involvement is only with the music directors of the movie…but yeah …these are conflicts all big projects have to deal with. We try to do cool things with cool people that, obviously benefit us and the cool people we doing stuff with…occasionally these benefits extend to abstractly connected people who are NOT so cool.. So we try to choose ..” Additionally, the vinyl etching for the EP will read “Hey Orson Scott Card You Are Wrong” on side 1 and “Gay People Are Cool” on the flip.
“We really ended up liking [the movie]” Wayne explained to Huffington Post. “A lot of times, people do songs for movies and there are a lot of criteria that you have to follow to make it suit the movie people…We quite like the mood of it and the way of it, the sound and the theme of it. Steven and I both remarked, ‘Man, I’d like to do some more music associated with this.’“
Keep in mind, the EP is a separate project than the movie, itself one step removed from the book. Creating “Peace Sword” for the film inspired the band to further explore the themes of isolation, regret, and the redemption of love on five more tracks. “It’s still a little bit of a mystery to me,” Coyne admits to Rolling Stone about even being in the film. “In the workings of getting to that song we’d already created a couple of these other little things that didn’t appeal to [the filmmakers] but started to appeal to us. We started to like these little ideas that we kept inserting into this one theme. [We were] just getting caught up in our own little fantasy.“
The lyrics Wayne penned for the EP don’t directly reference the film’s characters, though they do allude to specific scenes and more generally explore the mood of the movie in sound:
“I was trained to ignore your pain
Open your heart to me
I trade the sun of its light…
All the stars above all day
As bright as it can be
All the smart in my heed“
- “Peace Sword (Open Your Heart)”
“Try and remember it’s just a game
No one really dies“
-”If They Move, Shoot Em”
“I used to think I like the way the nature hit us all,
Every single answer I despise…
My mind has been poisoned by your lies…
I love the beauty that surrounds me
The gentleness of love
I wish I could go back and be a boy once again...”
-”Think Like a Machine, Not a Boy”
Wayne described the new music to Gawker: “the recent collection we’ve done for the Ender’s Game movie is more live playing, but not meant to sound live…?? it’s weird, we like the spontaneity but we still like it to sound like the machines are doing all the work.” He added to Rolling Stone, “Our most satisfying records to listen to . . . at the end you kind of stumble upon a character and a theme and a story,” referencing The Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi. “The more you do it, the more you’re compelled by your own creation.” To that end Rolling Stone speculates the disturbed track “Wolf Children” is inspired by a scene in the film in which Ender is attacked by a group of children who have turned into wolves.
If you are familiar with the book, comment below on the connections you hear between the story and the new songs.
The Flaming Lips didn’t work alone on this new EP. On September 11th Wayne Instagrammed “Doin a song for the movie Ender’s Game…” with a (now banned) photo of Steven laying down a bass line with Blackwatch Studios engineer Jarod Evans (@oddsevans). This followed an August Instagram post (also deleted) noting a “new song inspired by Enders Game called If They Move,Shoot Em.. @mackhawkins and Steven do some intense shit…” Tweets from Stardeath and White Dwarfs and New Fumes at the same session (shown below) documented them contributing to the Peace Sword EP. A month later New Fumes confirmed across his social media outlets he is “excited to be a part of this recording!” adding “not exactly [guitar playing], but it sounds like it sometimes. And some singing.“