Side two of the Flaming Lips with Heady Fwends forthcoming collaborative double LP ends with “That Ain’t My Trip” and “You, Man? Human?” The former – which went under the working title “It’s Not My Trip (Hippy Goes Out with Violent S&M Vampire Gal)” – features My Morning Jacket’s Jim James. The latter – with Nick Cave – was formerly known as “Violent Vampire Goes Out With Underage Alien Lifeguard Gal.” Are these two parts of the same wacked vampire love story??!
The Lips originally planned to do several songs with Cave – including a remix of “Bellringer Blues” – the closing track of Cave’s last album with Grinderman. Watch them work on that last summer in the first half of the above video, followed in the second half by newer recordings for Cave and James – presumably the two vampire songs .
Though most of their projects from the past decade have had a collaborative element – teaming with artists ranging from MGMT, Neon Indian and Greg Kurstin to Yoko Ono and Karen O (… to Steve Burns, Adam Goldberg and Fred Armisen…), they rarely worked with others before Yoshimi P-We joined them in 2002 on the album that bears her name. One exception however was their “What a Wonderful World” duet with Nick Cave nearly 2 decades ago. That the Lips are now collaborating with Cave again is an especially apt full-circle: he is the first major artist the band ever collaborated with …
Both parties are still crazy after all these years. They bonded touring Lollapalooza 1994 together through the rigors of the road – like the time Cave had diarrhea, as explained by Wayne in this video (followed by Wayne elaborating on his unfulfilled 2011 plans for an EP, and then the aforementioned 1994 duet live from Lolla):
Backstage in Barcelona at the Primavera Sound Festival last May 26th The Flaming Lips hung out with peers including of Montreal, Suicide, H Hawkline and a reunion with their long-time hero, Nick Cave. That same day Wayne Coyne’s wife Michelle retweeted (
@thatkyguy/ Trace Davis’) suggestion that the smell of a Cave collaboration was in the air…
Sure enough, the Cave collaboration Michelle Coyne teased was confirmed last June 2nd by Wayne to Consequence of Sound and on June 20th he revealed they were editing a track for said collab, then tweeted a video of Steven beat boxing an overdub for the song:
Soonafter, and throughout the summer, the Lips periodically posted clips of the Nick Cave collab’s progress – including work on a song by Grinderman, his (now disbanded) psych punk-blues band. The Grinderman tweets showed the Lips toying with “Bellringer Blues,” speculated for Grinderman’s next remix album. That notion circled around the web a bit – including this mention on Pitchfork – but ultimately didn’t work out that way: Grinderman 2 RMX was released March 26th featuring Robert Fripp, A Place to Bury Strangers, UNKLE, Joshua Homme and others (not The Flaming Lips though). “Bellringer Blues” is on RMX, however it’s a version by (Yeah Yeah Yeahs) Nick Zinner (click here to hear it).
Like the collaborative 12″ records they had created with Neon Indian, Prefuse 73 and Lightning Bolt last spring, the Lips were still aiming to make an EP with Cave throughout 2011. In August Wayne told fasterlouder.com, “we’re doing a track we’re going to send to Nick Cave tomorrow. We’ve already done one track with him and we’re doing a second track, and are going to aim for at least three. And the first track is amazing, so that seems like it will really work out. That’s a remote thing, we send him tracks and when he gets time he’ll do something to and send it back to us, and we’ll fuck with it back and forth. It’ll come out on a 12 inch record.”
Through last autumn the plan held despite Cave’s prior obligations. Wayne told Pitchfork in late October, “We’ve done a couple of things with Nick Cave, but he’s on tour right now so it won’t be until after November that he’s able to do more. But I think we’ll get a good Nick Cave collection of songs with the Flaming Lips. We already have one really good one, so that seems like it’ll work out.”
It seems that “one really good one” is the track out April 21st on Heady Fwends …. OK, but how did Jim James get involved? Well, back up to Primavera 2011 – where Cave and the Lips reconnected as pictured and mentioned above. The Lips also met up at the fest with Ariel Pink, their touring buddy from 2010…
So what does the Ariel Pink connection have to do with Jim James?
Wayne Coyne elaborated to fastcocreate.com, “We were trying to do a track with one of our friends, Ariel Pink, and that wasn’t working. Then we tried to do the same track with Bradford Cox of Deerhunter, and that didn’t work either. Then, in kind of a last-minute panic, I got the phone numbers of one of the drummers from My Morning Jacket, and asked for the singer Jim James’s number so he could sing on it. Even though Jim was getting ready to go to the Grammys, he said he’d do it if I could send it over within the next hour. We all worked in different ways–ranging from Jim just singing the end part of a song, to Ke$ha writing and producing the whole song right there with me.”
Perhaps Wayne networked with My Morning Jacket earlier as well – around the time he checked out their December 2011 tour (that ran from Los Angeles, through the south, to a much buzzed show at New York’s Madison Square Garden with Band of Horses).
So that’s how the collaborations came together but what exactly goes down between the hippy, the violent S&M vampire and the underage alien lifeguard remains to be heard. From the working titles it seems the (lesbian?) hippy dates the violent S&M vampire gal who is in turn a predator of the underage female alien…or maybe there are two violent vampires: one male, one female. What ever the case, it seems this vampire romance is too bizarre for the upcoming Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 soundtrack, likely to top Billboard this fall, but here’s a thought…
Perhaps these song were inspired by a certain Flaming Lips fan….