The Colorful Story Behind “Super Moon Made Me…Pee” and Okay Video’s Cartoons

“If the commentary online is any indication, those who had clear skies were not disappointed with the brilliant full moon that lit up the sky.”
-“Supermoon Lights Up Sky, Impresses Skywatchers”, March 20, 2011, ABCnews

“The [Super Moon] occurs less than one hour away from perigee–a near-perfect coincidence that happens only 18 years or so”
-Geoff Chester of the US Naval Observatory in Washington DC, science.nasa

Super Full Moon (movie strip, 550px)March 19, 2011 saw the return of the “Super Moon” – a rare phenomenon in which a full moon occurs at the same time it comes within 90 percent of its closest approach to Earth, making it appear “super” (wider and brighter). According to science.nasaFull Moons vary in size because of the oval shape of the Moon’s orbit. It is an ellipse with one side (perigee) about 50,000 km closer to Earth than the other (apogee): diagram [left]. Nearby perigee moons are about 14% bigger and 30% brighter than lesser moons that occur on the apogee side of the Moon’s orbit...The best time to look is when the Moon is near the horizon. That is when illusion mixes with reality to produce a truly stunning view. For reasons not fully understood by astronomers or psychologists, low-hanging Moons look unnaturally large when they beam through trees, buildings and other foreground objects.”

The last super moon before that was in 1993 – making this year’s the first in our current era of social media. The next day ABCnews was among the outlets that pointed out, “on Twitter, Facebook and Flickr, skywatchers around the world posted pictures and reactions to the the biggest full moon in nearly decades.”

Never one to miss a psychedelic sunset or freaky natural phenom, Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne was among those taking to twitter as the super moon returned:!/waynecoyne/status/49251389054001153

The day of the super moon, The Flaming Lips were in Cassadaga, New York – a remote region Coyne described in 1999 as “a sparse farming community in western New York… so dark [outside at night] I could not even see my own feet as I walked.” In other words, a great place to view any full moon – “super” or not…

They were at Tarbox – the studio built and run by their producer, Dave Fridmann – for their second batch of sessions with him producing their ongoing 2011 series of monthly EPs and odd releases (i.e. uploading 12 separate videos to YouTube to be played back simultaneously on 12 devices, issuing music inside a life-size, edible gummy skull). While there, Lips musical mastermind Steven Drozd laid down tracks using his iPhone as an instrument, displayed his “mega-skills” and played “sad epic sounds“. They also began work on “Enthusiasm for Life Defeats Existential Fear Part 2” – a sequel to a fan-fav rarity – and developed a Pink Floyd-ish “new song.”  The most tweeted about project from that session however was soon to be the opening track of their EP with Prefuse 73, “The Super Moon Made Me Want To Pee.” Here’s how it took shape…

The day before the super moon, Wayne jammed with The Flaming Lips’ drummer, Kliph. The spirit of this apparently aimless, headache-inducing improv carried over to later that day when they recorded a percussion-based “freakout track…about the SuperMoon“.!/waynecoyne/status/48671066188558336!/waynecoyne/status/49152402565251072

Work continued on the “freakout track” – tentatively titled “Super Moon” – the day of the super moon until technology issues derailed them. As Fridmann fixed the computer, Wayne was left free time to doodle on some scrap paper from Oklahoma City’s Southwestern Group of Companiesand for his imagination to turn to a crazy cartoon involving Niagra falls, the super moon, and a nude woman urinating on little people (or something like that)…!/waynecoyne/status/49414943082164224

Meanwhile, back at The Flaming Lips’ home in Oklahoma City, Wayne’s wife, Michelle, was struck with a brazen idea on how to celebrate the super moon… and get a full body tan all at once…!/waynecoyne/status/52732299225202688

The Flaming Lips returned to Oklahoma City, where they recorded vocals the following week. Then the track was (presumably) sent to Prefuse 73 for him to fiddle with…

Sometime after that, Wayne’s cartoon and the song blurred together. The song was rechristened “The Super Moon Made Me Want to Pee!!!” – nicked from the absurd quote bubble in the drawing – and surely one of the oddest named Flaming Lips songs (which is really saying something…). That the lyrics make no reference to peeing only makes the name that much freakier. Then again they don’t mention the super moon either. In fact, the only words are “coming up” – perhaps it’s the moon that’s coming up…

It’s not really a “song” though – it’s a “freakout.” It’s three syllables repeated over a crazy, noisy riff; even crazier and louder drumming and finally – just when it reaches it’s climax – it collapses into a drawn-out, atmospheric, symphonic synth section. In this way it’s similar to previous Lips freakouts like their Smart Phone song “Two Blobs Fucking” and Embryonic’s “Aquarius Sabotage” and “Your Bats.” A freakout such as this befits one of the freakiest Flaming Lips titles (in a near-thiry-year-career full of them) – especially considering the way it publicly took shape through a bizarre stream of tweets circa the super moon…

Alas, another super moon came on May 5, 2012 – also Space Day (and Cinco De Mayo, and the Kentucky Derby).  So far there’s nothing to suggest a sequel was written, just some tweets that show they and they’re peers (i.e. members of Mercury Rev and Stardeath and White Dwarfs) watched it…!/waynecoyne/status/198974040336109568!/Tekkbot/status/198861770339786753!/mercuryrevvd/status/198933520670916609!/mercuryrevvd/status/198933011088154624!/ROCKworth/status/199043003438989312!/mzmartincoyne/status/198888426911711232!/waynecoyne/status/198870123895988224!/mercuryrevvd/status/198724573359910913!/waynecoyne/status/139193098248007680
Last November Wayne Coyne tweeted a short clip of a cartoon in production for a new Flaming Lips music video.  It was easy to overlook, as there are so many Lips projects going on right now that have received more attention, but for those that saw that tweet the anticipation for and curiosity about the project has been building ever since.  The song was “Supermoon Made Me Want To Pee” – the opening track from the Lips’ May 2011 EP with Prefuse 73.  Its video had a full sneak peak after it was uploaded (unlisted) on February 23, 2012 by producers Okay Video on their brand new youtube/theokayvideo channel.  On 4/20 – the day before the song’s re-release on Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends and the one year anniversary of the Lips’ infamous original Gummy Skull release – the “Super Moon” video was uploaded (again unlisted, as of now anyway) to youtube/FlamingLips.

The “Super Moon” video follows youtube/theokayvideo‘s re-upload of their Bill Callahan “America” animation on February 2oth (previously debuted at the start of last summer – just in time for Independence Day – on an episode of wacky web talk show FridayNightSomewhere and the personal youtube channel of one of the video’s creators, Ryan Hennessee).  Both these videos were added to youtube/theokayvideo for the launch of Okay Video’s site,  “Super Moon” was further publicized when it was shared by The Flaming Lips via twitter (below) and their facebook page (above right) on Sunday, February 26th.  By that evening however it was set to “private” (after receiving 660 Facebook “likes” in ten hours) due to a release mix up.!/theflaminglips/status/173792509879783425

“The Super Moon Made Me Want To Pee” is the second of three official, new Flaming Lips music video that appeared online between February 21st and 24th.  The first was a live clip of “Give Peace a Chance” with the Plastic Ono Band at the turn of 2011-2012 (watch it and other New Year’s performances here).  The third, also with the Plastic Ono Band, though a studio track this time, was “Brain of Heaven.” This computer graphic freakout (i.e. laser beams shooting out of a digital-rainbow-woman’s vagina) can be watched – with full details – here.  The song, originally released on the second of the Lips’ four 2011 limited edition 12″ multi-color records (read more about the EP and hear the full release – plus a sampler of Prefuse 73’s last album – here), is one of four previously released songs compiled along side nine new tracks on the Lips’ collaborative double LP due out Record Store Day.

As for the producers of the new animation – according to Okay Video, “The group is a smaller division of the Austin based collective, Okay Mountain… We all enjoy cartoons.” The new site is  thus the film division spin-off of – “Formed in 2006 and based in Austin, OKAY MOUNTAIN is a collective consisting of ten artists who live and work in Austin, Cambridge, Chicago, and Los Angeles. All exhibit as solo artists as well. Originating as an artist-run alternative gallery space, OKAY MOUNTAIN evolved into an artist collective when its founding members began creating art together outside of the gallery environs. What began as collaborative drawing sessions during weekly staff meetings has since developed into a wide range of collaborative projects across a variety of media, including drawing, video, sound, performance, prints, zines, murals, and large-scale sculptural installations. Their shared artworks reveal the unique perspective provided by a group dynamic, give emphasis to drawing and the artist’s hand, and are always leavened by a sense of humor, whimsy, and larger-than-life Texan spirit. Playing on the conventions and absurdities of contemporary consumer culture and drawing upon pop graphics and styling, their works are scrappy, colorful, and maximal-just like the artists themselves.” Further details on the Okay Gallery is here and here. Info on their various projects is here, and bios are here (though the producer of the “Super Moon” video, Dave Bryant, is not listed).

Watch Okay Videos’ excellent “America” cartoon below:


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