By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Mar 24, 2006 6:46PM
Local rock critic Jim DeRogatis has spent the last few years pestering members of the Flaming Lips for interviews, haranguing them in the studio while they tried to get work done, bugging singer Wayne Coyne’s significant other for photos of the band and digging through years and years of smudged newsprint mining old interviews with and profiles of the band.
This is just a long-winded way for us to say that DeRo has gone and written a biography, Staring At Sound, of the Flaming Lips with lots of input from the principal players.
A book constructed under those circumstances is usually no more than a gushing fan letter so we approached the tome with great trepidation. We did have our hopes though: DeRo was fired from Rolling Stone because he refused to write a fluff piece, and we’ve always been a fan of his because of his critical integrity even if we don’t always agree with his particular tastes.
In this case DeRo does a fairly good job of presenting as unbiased a picture as possible of the band. For instance, Coyne is never explicitly painted as a control freak but there are enough hints to point the reader in that direction without actually saying so. Musical stumbles taken by the band are treated rather openly -- DeRo is obviously not a fan of Telepathic Surgery for the most part -- and giant leaps forward (i.e. Clouds Taste Metallic to Zaireeka to Soft Bulletin) are shown to actually be incremental steps made in the band’s growth.
Tomorrow at The Abbey DeRo has put together a one-night only Flaming Lips cover band – with himself on drums – that will play all the (should have been) hits from the band’s inception through the mid-‘90s (a.k.a. those songs that the Flaming Lips themselves never play in concert anymore) to celebrate the book’s release. DeRo will also do a book signing, while sonically previewing the new Lips album At War With The Mystics*. Orch-power-poppers Kid Million have regrouped to open the show along with current local darling Scotland Yard Gospel Choir. All proceeds from the door will benefit The American Poetry And Literacy Project For the Chicago Public Schools, so rock out, let your freak flag fly and feel socially good about it all at the same time. Awesome!
*We’ve heard it, we love it, it is fucking awesome.