Flaming Lips: "It's like a never ending Spinal Tap moment”

Virgin Radio

15 Feb 2021, 16:58

Flaming Lips are definitely a band to do things in their own way. They've been making headlines this year for their bubble gigs, a Covid-safe concert where both the band and the audience are kept safely in plastic bubbles.

The audience is made up of 100 bubbles, occupied by either one, two or three people, for a fully immersive experience.

Frontman Wayne has been rolling across audiences in a sphere since 2004. He thought it was about time that fans got a chance to be in one too. 

In an interview with The Sun, Wayne says: "I get so involved that I don’t always realise people might think, ‘Oh my gosh, this is magic’. Sometimes I need to stand back.”

“I always wait cautiously for what actually happens on the night. You don’t want to hear, ‘Oh somebody had a heart attack’. We’ve tried to think of everything that could possibly go wrong and accommodate any worries.”

 Four more dates are planned next month. The band also decorated the stage with silver helium balloons, spelling out the words “F*** off Covid”.

“We just thought it was appropriate,” says Coyne. “We’re going to attack this thing head on. There’s no point being polite about Covid. We know people whose grandparents and uncles have died from it."

“My wife Katy had it before Christmas, luckily not severely, but you can see how it can change the dynamic of a family.

“Because it can be really brutal and horrible, we in the band don’t take it lightly. I’m up there, I’ve got my mask on and everybody’s in a bubble.”

He stresses though how safe an environment it is. 

“These Flaming Lips shows are safer than anywhere, once you leave the house,” he says. “I wish attendants were so attentive at the grocery store. If you show up without a mask, I don’t care if you bought a ticket, you have to leave. We’re very strict.”

He explains the unlikely gardening tool that's key to the event's success.

“I don’t know what calibre of leaf blowing machine people are used to in England but in America, keeping your mown grass free of leaves is a full-time, manly job,” he laughs.

“The space bubbles are pretty big and they’re packed pretty tight with air, so we had ten very powerful blowers. The good ones blow at 250 miles an hour. Each row of bubbles takes about 22 minutes. We are already on stage waiting for that last one to get blown up, so we can say, ‘OK, everybody’s in, we’re starting the show’.”

Wayne acknowledges his bubble experience has definitely come in handy.

“So, we’re uniquely qualified to be doing this space bubble thing, even during the pandemic,” says Coyne.

 “Luckily, I’m not claustrophobic. I’ve never really felt trapped in there, except maybe for the first time at Coachella.”

Would you go to a bubble gig?