“We were doing The Colbert Report, and I was driving in a car over to the studio, I think. iTunes always thinks that a group like the Flaming Lips must have like 50 tracks just lying around that we’re not going to do anything with. They said, “We need seven or eight B-sides for Embryonic. Could you guys make a little iTunes exclusive EP?”-Wayne Coyne explaining to Paste being approached by iTunes
“I think they were thinking we would do our own songs, I was being honest with them and said ‘I don’t think we have any songs.’ So almost as a joke, I said ‘maybe we’ll just do a cover of Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon.'”-Wayne Coyne explaining to Spinner.com the inception of covering Dark Side of the Moon
“And then the joke wound up being on me because they loved the idea.”
-Wayne Coyne explaining to musicradar.com iTunes’ response to his joke
Not having the material iTunes wanted in late September 2009 for an exclusive to their soon to be released album, Embryonic, The Flaming Lips would have to record something new. At some point Lips’ Warner Brother label mates Stardeath and White Dwarfs (also pals, relations and former employees) – who had released their début album, The Birth, earlier that year- became a part of the plan as well. The two had already recorded a cover together of Madonna’s “Borderline” at the start of the year… what better way to follow-up Madge than with Floyd?
A month and half before that, when the Embryonic‘s track list first leaked on the internet, Lips’ drummer Kliph Scurlock revealed that there were other songs recorded for the album: “I Don’t Understand Karma” (and 3 or 4 others) didn’t make the cut” (Sun, 08/02/2009 – 4:53pm, flaminglips.com). Which these “3 or 4” are is still unclear, and the bonus tracks iTunes released with Embryonic only confuses the issue further: “UFOs Over Baghdad” (a Mystics out-take also available on Rhapsody), “What Does It Mean?” (a reject from the Spider-Man 3 soundtrack also available on Rhapsody) and “Anything You Say Now, I Believe You” (from the soundtrack to Know Your Mushrooms and known to many fans since early 2009 via the Flaming Lips’ myspace page). Only one of the four bonus tracks was an out-take from Embryonic: “Just Above Love” (…so does this mean we’ll have to wait for the next album – that is assuming there will be a next album – to hear the current album’s remaining out-takes?)
“I can say for certain there was one song that ended up being a pretty good B-side—a song called “Just Above Love”—that we tried to make five different times. And every time we failed, it turned into yet another song. And those songs on the record are “I Can Be a Frog” and “Watching the Planets.”
-Wayne Coyne explaining out-takes to Paste
Previous Flaming Lips albums (particularly 1995’s Clouds Taste Metallic, 2002’s Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots and 2006’s At War with the Mystics) have birthed a wealth of non-album tracks, but so far Embryonic seems to be stillborn in this regard. What’s more, though several songs from Embryonic have been treated like singles (highlighted in set lists, promoted with music videos), there haven’t been any actual singles from the albums… and thus no true B-sides.
Wayne told New Music Express late last year that a “giant fur bubble” package of Embryonic was being planned for Spring 2010 (posted December 5, 2009 on myspace.com/psychexfutureheart and embedded at the bottom of this post from December 21). At the time it was unclear if the deluxe treatment and vaginalistic “box set” would include Dark Side of the Moon, Embryonic out-takes, or other odds and sods like 2009 released covers of “Borderline” and “Kundalini Express” …. but it seemed that it would include music of some sort not on Embryonic. Now, it’s still unclear what would be included, or if it will even be issued at all. When Paste directly asked Wayne at the start of 2010 if the cut songs would be released Wayne (went all Brian Wilson on them and) indirectly replied, “Oh, I don’t know. I think these types of ideas can swim in somebody’s mind their whole life.”
The bottom line to all of this: besides (half-jokingly) covering Dark Side for iTunes (out on CD today) what will follow-up Embryonic? (Are the out-takes just not that interesting? What new music is in the works?)
So far, the closest to a Flaming Lips’ 2010 release has been Teddybears “Crystal Meth Christian” (featuring Wayne Coyne) …but relax, a myriad of other projects (all of which will be discussed on this blog over the next few days in the 5/4 Flaming Lips 2010 countdown) will keep us distracted until they release new music. Which begs the next question, will there even be another Flaming Lips album or are they turning into an art project firm that films and soundtracks their own movies, tours multi-media musical extravaganzas, designs postcards and T-shirts, works on Broadway productions, makes music videos and releases new music – not in the form of “an album” but – in the shape of a singles club to come…
Wayne: “‘Embryonic’ hadn’t even come out and we’d recorded ‘Dark Side’ to come out in a couple of months. I don’t think we would have wanted another marketing campaign anyway. It would just be another way of making music and expressing our love of music through another means. It was an opportunity. It was fun. It filled all those desires you have as a group or artist or whatever. Even when we think about what we’re going to do next I don’t really know what way we’d do it. I think we may do it a song at a time, every month or two we’ll put out a new song for the next couple of years. It’ll sort of organically become what we are doing.”