Wayward Q&A: Interview with Kliph Scurlock of the Flaming Lips

If there’s any band that needs no introduction on any planet or in dimension, it’s the Flaming Lips. The Oklahoma City legends’ new album, Embryonic, comes out today: a hefty, 18-track double album full of some of the most daring and schizoid music the band has produced in years. The band plays The Late Show with Conan O’Brien tonight as part of a series of release-week events in LA that includes a MySpace secret show and the opening of a pop-up store.

Before all the hullabaloo began, we caught up with drummer Kliph Scurlock at his home in Lawrence to talk about, among other things, the Miles Davis influence on the album, astrology, Namelessnumberheadman, and who would play him and Wayne in a movie.

The Wayward Blog: So what’s your year been like?

Kliph Scurlock: Oh, man… The first few weeks of the year were pretty mellow. We played a show on New Year’s Eve in Oklahoma. I got home around the 3rd or so and hung out for a couple of weeks. We did a video for that song “Borderline” that we did with Star Death and White Dwarfs for the Warner Bros. 50th anniversary compilation thing. After that, we started going over to Steven’s and working on songs. We did that pretty much every day for a couple months, and in March or April, we started going up to Tarbox and recording there. For a few months, we’d be at Tarbox for a couple weeks and come back and be at Steven’s, recording there, working on demos. Some of the stuff we recorded at Steven’s we’d take up to Dave’s place [Dave Fridman of Tarbox Studios], and he’d fix ’em up and make ’em sound better, and then we’d add to those.

Was this your first experience recording with the Flaming Lips?

I would say yeah. I’ve done some B-sides and stuff, but as far as doing an album project, it was my first time.

Was that monumental?

It was. It was kind of weird when Wayne called and said, “We’re gonna do this video and after that we’re going to Steven’s to do some recording, so be prepared to be down here a while.” I was like, “Oh, wow, alright.” So it was, but at the same time, the day to day of doing it didn’t seem particularly monumental, because, you know, I’ve known those guys for so long and worked for them and have been playing with them for the last seven years, and when we’re all together … it’s only when I think about the fact that “oh shit, we’re doing an album, and I’m here in it”…

Did any outside influences shape the recording of the album – other albums, bands, movies…

Actually, it’s funny you should mention movies because Wayne really got into this movie called The Night Porter, I think. It’s this weird film from, I think 1974, about a girl who was a Jew during World War II and one of the Nazi guards who tortured her and raped her and fucked with her all the time, and she survives the concentration camps, and later she goes to this hotel and that guy is working as the night porter, and they have this weird relationship, and turns out she actually liked it. I’m not sure what about it Wayne got into, but he did, and it ended up shaping some of the lyrics. A couple people asked me, “Was Wayne in a bad mood when he was doing the album? The lyrics are dark!” He wasn’t at all, he was just exploring different lyrical things, and watching this movie and the psychology of somebody that could actually enjoy torture and being abused and submission and domination and stuff like that.

Categories: Music