Nell and The Flaming Lips announce “Where The Viaduct Looms”

Today, Nell & The Flaming Lips announce the release of Where the Viaduct Looms, out 26th November via Bella Union and available to preorder here. The LP comprises nine Nick Cave cover versions with vocals and instrumentation by 14-year-old Nell Smith and instrumentation and production by The Flaming Lips. The album was mastered by Dave Fridmann at Tarbox Road Studios. To mark the occasion Nell and the Lips have shared a video of their beguiling cover of “The Ship Song”. 

This inspiring and heartwarming story begin when Smith, originally from Leeds (UK), moved to Canada and first met Wayne Coyne at the age of 12 at The Flaming Lips’ headline show at the Sled Island Festival, Calgary, in 2018 with her family. Nell had already attended several Lips shows and was a regular at the front of the stage, dressed in a parrot costume and screaming out the band’s songs. Coyne soon began to notice the kid in the parrot suit and sang a David Bowie cover directly to her at the show in Calgary, with Nell singing every word back.

A musical bond formed with Coyne staying in contact with Nell and her father Jude as she learned to play guitar, while their creative relationship began to flourish when she started to write her own songs.

When a planned trip to record with the band in Oklahoma had to be cancelled due to covid Coyne suggested Nell record some Nick Cave songs and email them to Oklahoma to be backed by the band. Coyne chose Nick Cave because Nell didn’t know him and wouldn’t have preconceived notions as to how to sing the songs. The first track they recorded was a cover of “Girl In Amber”, the video of which Nell shared late last year.

Speaking about the collaboration, Coyne comments: “It’s always great to meet excited, young creative people. With Nell we could see she is on a journey and thought it would be fun to join her for a while and see if we could get things going. It was a great way to connect with her and help harness her cool attitude to making music.”

When asked about the experience, Nell comments: “I still can’t really believe it. It was a really steep learning curve but Wayne was so encouraging when I was struggling with a few of the songs that I kept going. I hadn’t heard of Nick Cave but Wayne suggested that we should start with an album of his cover versions, and then look at recording some of my own songs later. It was cool to listen and learn about Nick Cave and pick the songs we wanted to record.”

Nells goes on to say: “I’m so excited to see this turn into a real record release. I’m super happy to be working with Bella Union and really looking forward to everyone hearing the album.”

In a pleasing addition to the tale the great man himself has given his seal of approval to the collaboration. Alerted to the cover by a fan Nick Cave took to his website The Red Hand Files to write: “This version of ‘Girl in Amber’ is just lovely, I was going to say Nell Smith inhabits the song, but that’s wrong, rather she vacates the song, in a way that I could never do,” said Cave. “I always found it difficult to step away from this particular song and sing it with its necessary remove, just got so twisted up in the words, I guess. Nell shows a remarkable understanding of the song, a sense of dispassion that is both beautiful and chilling. I just love it. I’m a fan.”

The Flaming Lips perform ‘Assassins Of Youth’

Today, The Flaming Lips return with a celebratory video for their nostalgic, reflective single “Assassins of Youth” taken from their September-released psych-pop masterwork American Head. Directed by Wayne Coyne and filmed/edited by Blake Studdard for Atria Creative, the clip was filmed at a recent socially distanced performance the band gave in Oklahoma City where both band and crowd members were encased in plastic bubbles. The event itself has since gone viral attracting headlines around the world and extensively reported on CNN, NPR, NME, Noisey-Vice, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, Buzzfeed, Variety, Uproxx, The Today Show, Marc Maron WTF, ABC, NBC and more.

For years, Lips frontman Wayne Coyne has walked atop ecstatic crowds in a bubble. But in the interest of bringing back their spectacular live gigs safely, the band extended the tradition to fans. The video captures the unexpected joy of the endeavour, celebrating The Flaming Lips’ uncanny ability to bring people together, even in the midst of these strange times. It’s a thrill just to see a crowd jumping up and down in 2020, even if they all happen to be in plastic orbs. 

“Of course, our MAIN priority (when doing the performance for the music video) was making sure everyone was safe and all the health cautions were being enforced,” Coyne writes of the video. But there was a welcome side effect: “I forgot about how exciting and fun and ridiculous it is to do a Flaming Lips show!!! I think the video shows it!!!”

American Head is out now on Bella Union.

Happy Release Day To The Flaming Lips

Happy release day to the one and only Flaming Lips who release their technicolour wonder of an album AMERICAN HEAD today. The album is comprised of thirteen vivid tracks produced by Dave Fridmann and The Lips and is perhaps their most beautiful work to date.

AMERICAN HEAD finds The Flaming Lips basking in more reflective lyrical places as Wayne Coyne explains in a long form story about the album.

“Even though The Flaming Lips are from Oklahoma we never thought of ourselves as an AMERICAN band. I know growing up (when I was like 6 or 7 years old) in Oklahoma I was never influenced by, or was very aware of any musicians from Oklahoma. We mostly listened to the Beatles and my mother loved Tom Jones (this is in the 60’s)… it wasn’t till I was about 10 or 11 that my older brothers would know a few of the local musician dudes.

So… for most of our musical life we’ve kind of thought of ourselves as coming from ‘Earth’… not really caring WHERE we were actually from. So for the first time in our musical life we began to think of ourselves as ‘AN AMERICAN BAND’… telling ourselves that it would be our identity for our next creative adventure. We had become a 7-piece ensemble and were beginning to feel more and more of a kinship with groups that have a lot of members in them. We started to think of classic American bands like The Grateful Dead and Parliament-Funkadelic and how maybe we could embrace this new vibe.

The music and songs that make up the AMERICAN HEAD album are based in a feeling. A feeling that, I think, can only be expressed through music and songs. We were, while creating it, trying to NOT hear it as sounds… but to feel it. Mother’s sacrifice, Father’s intensity, Brother’s insanity, Sister’s rebellion…I can’t quite put it into words.

Something switches and others (your brothers and sisters and mother and father…your pets) start to become more important to you…in the beginning there is only you… and your desires are all that you can care about…but… something switches.. I think all of these songs are about this little switch.”