49 Years of Wisdom From Wayne Coyne

The Flaming Lips frontman would rather make shitty art with good people than the inverse

  • You just wonder if this thing that you're doing, if you're really any good at it. And even being good at it, does the world care? I have all these guys, not just the guys in the group, but a lot of people who work for us. You know, it's a big responsibility. And you understand how much all this teeters on just your dumb ideas. If the world likes your ideas, 25 people get to make their house payments and eat this month. And if they don't, two years from now, this will all disappear. And so maybe that's very empowering, but, like I said, it's worrisome.

  • We don't have any children—me and my wife—and so I suppose if I had these other markers, that could be both kind of satisfying but also sort of accepting of, "Well, dude, you're getting older."

  • I have more access to doing my music and art and all these bullshit things that I do. I'm so surrounded by it all the time that, you know, what you fear is that you're going to be this old curmudgeon, this old, demanding curmudgeon that everybody knows is a fool and you're the last one to know that. And maybe, secretly, that is what's happening. But I don't feel like that.

    You're never too old for confetti.
    Brian Birzer
    You're never too old for confetti.

  • If you're curious about things, that's great, but being curious with no desire or any energy leads nowhere.

  • I mean, I don't ever long to be that guy that I was. Like I said earlier, I'm not sure I remember who I was, but I'm perfectly satisfied saying, "This isn't some bleak, strange world I find myself in." I love this world. You know, all the mysteries that have been solved only show me that there's a million mysteries yet to find. The beauty I've seen in the world only opens me up to seeing more beauty out there.

  • I understand that, you know, you die. We all are going to die. I mean, it's all right there with us. But I think you become more aware of it. I mean, in just the past couple of months, we've had some friends of ours commit suicide. You become more aware of—you know, people's lives start to pile up on them.

  • I don't know that I think about it more than I used to. I think I've thought about death quite a bit ever since my father died in 1996. You know, you become acutely aware of how temporary things are. But I have to say, when I was 17 years old, I worked at a restaurant and we were robbed one night, and in the moment that we were robbed, it seemed certain that I was going to die. I mean, I lay on the floor with giant guns a-blazing in the back and just thought, "Well, this is it. This is how you're going to die." You know, it was a powerful amount of time to be suspended in that other-world thing: "This is how you die." And I have to say, when I didn't die—obviously, I'm here now—when I didn't die, I never realized until then that I had been alive. I know that sounds retarded, but I had never realized that I was alive.

  • And so I think when I was 17, I jumped for joy and I said, "Oh, my God, I am alive." And a lot of things that I feared seemed silly to me after that. I mean, they didn't stay silly—you creep back to the way that you were—but it took quite a few years before I thought of all the petty insecurities that had mattered to me. And so I think I was very lucky that I was shown, "Dude, you're alive. Don't worry about it. This could be so much worse," or "This could end. You should go for it." And I was lucky. I didn't ask for that jolt. And so I think I had that and I think it altered a little bit of my inertia of what I wanted to be and become. And I thought, "Well, what do I have to lose," you know? And so in a way, I've considered death probably since then, but if you're lucky, you consider it and it shows you how great the world is as opposed to how horrible it is. I don't want to say that death is this wonderful thing—I don't think it is at all. I think it's brutal and it changes people and it's too powerful and it is almost always bad, more bad than it is good, but it is with us.

  • You don't want to just spend your days doing things, saying, "Well, the art is the only thing that matters." And so I surround myself with people that I love and care about and have fun with, even if we're going to make shitty art. When you're young, you think all that matters is the creation, and you'll destroy and you'll fight and you'll do whatever you can to make these great creations. And I don't do that at all—I don't think that ever works. I would rather make bad art and have fun with my friends and family and do this wonderful life than sacrifice all that and say the art was all worth it. And I know Neil Young talks about that. He'll say the music is all that matters. Well, it's not to me. I mean, music matters a lot, but it doesn't matter more than the people in my life and relationships and being kind and caring about people. So, you know, to me, I'm so relieved and so thankful that people love our music, but the idea that I get to love living and making it and all that is more important.

    The Flaming Lips play Central Park SummerStage July 26 and Terminal 5 July 27. Both shows are sold out.

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