Hear Flaming Lips Brand New, Original Christmas Song; Watch Their Holiday Show

In 2007 a CD called Atlas Eets Christmas was released under the pseudonym “Imagene Peise.”  Only a few copies were issued, along with a sticker that gave away the identity of the real creators: “Love Is The Answer – Merry Christmas From The Flaming Lips 2007.”
The Flaming Lips’ secret Christmas album also streamed on a myspace page created that December especially for the project.  That page included a (fictional) legend about a “master jazz pianist” from Iraq named Imagene Peise.  “Rumored to have committed suicide in 1978,”  most of what is known is shrouded in clouds of legend and smoke of myth”  – however her long lost “strange and beautiful” holiday recordings had recently been discovered and thus released as the Atlas Eets Christmas Collection.
In 2009 The Lips further confirmed it was in fact their album by adding a new song not just at myspace.com/imagenepeise, but also myspace.com/flaminglips.  In fact, every year since 2009 the Lips have added a new track to the Atlas Eets Christmas collection – uploaded to youtube/ImagenePeise since 2010 – along with the claim, “they found a new Imagene Peise recording.

Of course the joke is this supposed Iraqi jazz pianist’s name is written as if wonsaponatime John Lennon had spelled “imagine peace” in his funny way, and the collection’s title spoken aloud sounds like “At last, it’s Christmas!”

Likewise, the myspace page listed joke alias credits:
“Ominog Bangh – Laughing/Crying Glider Synthesizer
Shineyu Bhupal – Drones, Sitar, and Baritone Tambura”

In 2011 the Lips created atlaseetschristmas.com, a never-ending free web stream that played much of their career-spanning Christmas recordings including the score to their film Christmas on Mars, classics like “Christmas at the Zoo” and The Atlas Eets Christmas Collection.  Additionally one of the eight new tracks they debuted last year on this “Infinite Christmas Sounds” player was a new version of “Atlas Eets Christmas” recording with Yoko and the Plastic Ono Band (and later included on the two band’s collaborative EP released at their dual New Year’s Eve concert).

Now, a year later The Lips have “found” another “Imagene Peise” track – that is, they added another new, original song to their no-longer-so-secret pseudonym holiday collection, “Kindness Song.”

Steven's 2012 Christmas setlistIn addition to releasing “Kindness Song” on Christmas Eve, the night before the Lips – specifically Steven Drozd with the help of Derek Brown, Daniel Huffman (aka New Fumes) and, for two songs, Wayne Coyne – played the Atlas Eets Christmas material live for the first time ever!

Below is a letter posted on slow-nerve-action.com from Amy – an awesome fan also known as Eco-Gal – who not only attended the show, but was nice enough to record the full performance so all of us not there can pretend we were so lucky…

“Dear Fwends,

Last night I had one of the most magical experiences a fan of a band can have. As you may know, the Flaming Lips hosted an intimate performance at the tiny (I mean tiny) Saint’s Pub in Oklahoma City. It was their Christmas party and they invited the fans via Twitter the night before. The place was packed to capacity of course! But I got there early despite a long drive and when I got there Wayne Coyne was just inside the door greeting people.
Wayne remembered me as Eco-Gal of course and we chatted for a bit; he also remembered that I was from Dallas and was impressed I drove up just for the night. He said it was his neighborhood bar and that he had walked over. I guess that’s why they picked the place. The place was packed already and all the tables were taken so Wayne suggested I just sit on the floor right in front of the little platform that was the stage…
Meanwhile Steven Drozd was setting up his gear and so was Daniel Huffman (New Fumes) who was going to supply some atmospheric sounds to back Steven on the piano. Later Derek Brown arrived too; he would be providing minimalistic percussion for the evening. I met up with some awesome fellow members of the Love Pit, an amazing family of Lips fans, and we bonded instantly over the knowledge that we were about to share a truly unique experience. We chatted with Steven about his gaudy Christmas sweater, which he said was a gift a couple of years ago and he finally had an occasion to wear it! I also met and visited with many familiar faces in Lips world from their crew and extended family, expressing gratitude to them for what they do. Side note, after the show I ran into Becky Drozd coming out of the bathroom and told her, “Your husband is really talented.” I wonder if that freaked her out that I knew who she was?

Finally time for the performance. Steven Drozd is one of my favorite musicians in the world and I think he is amazingly talented. So it was a trip to sit for an hour literally at his feet while he played Christmas songs on a dinky piano in a bar. The crowd was talking loudly the whole show, which I thought was rude and a shame considering the musical genius they were talking over! But then again, he was just playing Christmas songs on a dinky piano in a bar… So maybe it was fitting that the crowd talked through the whole show. I was guilty a few times myself as Wayne was sitting right next to me on the floor for much of the show… I couldn’t help but ask, for instance, why he had a sheet of plastic wrap with him. “Trying to kill myself,” he demonstrated (you can see this in the videos!). And I told Wayne how special this was, of course, to be sitting before one of my favorite musicians in the world for a show like this. It felt like we were in his living room or something!

I videoed the entire show. I felt a bit sheepish, and set the camera on my knee most of the time so as to be less obtrusive. How often do you get to see your musical heroes in this type of setting? Well, maybe more often than not… Wayne sang a couple of songs, during which he hinted that they may be doing a Christmas show for the next couple of decades (though Wayne is prone to hyperbole)…
After the show, I thanked Steven profusely and told him the same thing I’d told Wayne: Steven, Jonny Greenwood, and Jimmy Page are my three favorite living musicians, and to see him in a performance like this was just amazingly special and so worth the trip. Steven was visibly humbled and said those are some of his all-time favorite musicians too! I saw Steven’s hand-written setlist that was on the piano and asked him if I could take a picture of it. (I didn’t ask for the setlist itself because, well, I thought that was something he might want to keep.) But he offered it to me, so I asked him to sign it. He spent the next several moments asking around for a marker because the only pen I had was the same color he’d written the setlist in and he wanted to sign with something different. Finally Wayne came by with Sharpies and I chose pink. Steven checked over the setlist for me, crossed out the piece they didn’t end up playing, and wrote a wonderful dedication… “Amy, thanks for sweetness. Steven”
What an amazing guy. Everything you hope for but would never dream of! He teased me that he may need the setlist back next year… So maybe this will be an ongoing gig. Luckily I no longer get nervous talking to Wayne and Steven because I’ve met them before already. It’s like talking to a friend at the pub almost! Well, maybe what I mean is the whole evening was so relaxed and friendly and close, they made me feel at ease being around them. That’s a gift. I also talked to Daniel and Derek. On my way out I got another hug from Wayne (maybe the third of the night?). Wayne hugs are always great by the way! Outside, Steven and Derek were loading out. I thanked them again and they thanked me for coming, and Steven wished me a safe trip back to Dallas. Whew! I got home at 3am, stayed up all night uploading the videos so you guys would have them in time for Christmas, and then caught a flight to DC.”

Very special thanks to Amy for sharing!

For more holiday music check out the Future Heart mixes that have been posted daily this December – seasonal songs by MGMT, Pink Floyd, Bjork, Beck, REM, Band of Horses, Low, Can, Polyphonic Spree, Plastic Ono Band, The Flaming Lips and others.

Stream a 14 hour playlist – including songs for the season by Radiohead, The Who, The White Stripes, Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, The Kinks, Belle and Sebastian, The Damned, Louis Armstrong, Tom Waits, Mogwai, The Sonics, Teenage Fanclub, T-Rex, Badly Drawn Boy, The Vandals, John Prine, Skip Spence, Sufjan Stevens and more – here.

Several new Future Heart projects are currently in development for 2013 including a few special surprises for the 30th anniversary of The Lips, and a wonderful Lips-themed comic series by artist Andrew Pawley. Check out some of Andrew’s past work here.


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