What exactly is wrong with Wayne Coyne?
10:00 AM EDT on May 13, 2014
In this week's installment of our new bi-weekly feature "We Told You So: The 2014 Fall of Wayne Coyne," we're going to take a look at what exactly we think is wrong with the Lips' frontman. But before we get to that, let's recap the continued fallout between Wayne and his former drummer, Kliph Scurlock.
A few weeks ago, Kliph posted something manic to Facebook where he detailed his firing from the band, and in the process, outed Wayne Coyne as a short-tempered, abusive asshole. The rant was picked up by the popular indie music site, Pitchfork, which published an article titled "Kliph Scurlock Accuses Wayne Coyne of Racism and Abuse in Detailed Account of Firing From Flaming Lips." Obviously, that story hit every other music website, blog, zine, whatever out there, and although he'd never admit it, Wayne Coyne had a little crisis on his hands. Just like his band's music, he went from being revered and loved to being questioned and criticized from his loyal fan base.
As the fallout from Kliph's first Facebook post was settling, the drummer left another long, rambling Facebook post. This one was less publicized, and it's too long and incoherent to post here, but let's just say it read like Wayne sent Stardeath and the White Dwarves to Kliph's house with a pair of pliers and a blow torch. Kliph spun a 180. He semi-apologized and defended Wayne from accusations of racism. He claimed there was more to his firing than just Hipster Boo Boo's Cleveland Indians impersonation – something we told you – and essentially apologized for igniting the controversy.
Wayne repaid Kliph's favor by giving an exclusive interview with Rolling Stone where he called the ex-drummer "a pathological liar," "immature," "asshole bully," "cowardly Internet hater," "closed-minded musician," "non creative" and "hateful person." All those things may be true, but Wayne came across looking like a dick. Although he distanced himself from Hipster Boo Boo and her philosopher bf, he was combative, entitled, hypocritical and other choice words used to describe a washed-up hero turned anti-hero. The hypocrite part really stood out.
[Kliph's] an abusive, compulsive, pathological liar that will do anything he can do get attention. And of course, using my name gets him attention.
Yep, Wayne Coyne accused someone of being an abusive, pathological liar that will do anything for attention. Sound familiar, Miley Cyrus and Kesha? That's like a rainbow pot calling a confetti kettle colorful. Seriously, you should really check the interview out. Wayne comes across as manic and lacking self-awareness. He used to have such a refreshing and unusual take on the world. Now he sounds like a hipster Charlie Sheen.
Of course, stuff like that is what we've now come to expect from the sex-crazed New Wayne Coyne. He's obviously not the same guy we've all grown to respect and admire over the years. It's something we first noticed a few years ago, and something the national music media is starting to pick up on, too. For example, check out this post from Flavor Wire:
You can’t believe everything you read on the Internet, but it’s been clear for the last few years that something is going on with [Wayne Coyne]. He was always an oddball, of course, but there’s been a thoroughly depressing cast to his antics of late — a sort of determined craziness, a studied wackiness that comes across as narcissistic and contrived...
The change first became apparent toward the end of the ’00s, so much so that local Oklahoma website The Lost Ogle has taken to referring to post-2010 Wayne Coyne as “New Wayne Coyne.” The easy conclusion to draw is that this is a big ol’ mid-life crisis, especially since the change corresponds roughly to the time when he broke up with his wife and started seeing a girl in her 20s (who’s also friends with, yes, Christina Fallin).
But look, I don’t know and ultimately I don’t care. Coyne’s hardly the first rock star to have a mid-life crisis, of course, and whatever happened between him and his wife is entirely their own business. All I care about is what he does. And dear god, he’s hanging out with people who think it’s hilarious to piss all over the culture of a people who’ve been screwed from pillar to post ever since Europeans set foot on this continent? He thinks it’s perfectly OK to publish a photo of a dog in a Native American headdress in response to their concerns?...
What the fuck, Wayne Coyne? What the fuck? Whatever happened to the fearless freaks? What happened to the man who claimed that you didn’t need drugs to have psychedelic experiences? What happened to the sincere songwriter who wrote “In the Morning of the Magicians” and “Waitin’ for a Superman” and “Do You Realize???” What happened to the man who wrote “The Spiderbite Song,” perhaps the most beautiful and compassionate song that you’ll ever hear about seeing a friend fight addiction? What happened to love and empathy? What happened to this guy? Will he ever come back? And if not, was it all worth it?
Okay, I really used Flavor Wire as an example because they mentioned us, but the writer does bring up a good point. What did happen to Wayne Coyne? The most common answer is that he's having a midlife crisis. Although he hasn't bought a Porsche (yet), he did leave his wife of 20-something years for a groupie who has only lived for 20-something years. Sounds like a reasonable answer, right?
I don't think so. Wayne is having a midlife crisis, but it's not root of the problem. Something caused it. It's not like he woke up one day and said, "Fuck this amazing life I have! It sucks to be famous, wealthy, loved and respected. I need to rebel and party!"
TLO co-founder Tony speculated that maybe Wayne's always been this way. Perhaps this era of 24-hour access to Twitter and Instagram is showing us a glimpse of Wayne we've never seen. That seems kind of logical, but it doesn't match what I hear. I know a lot of people who were and are friends with Wayne, Michelle and Lip's musical genius, Stephen Drozd. They've seen Wayne and the band grow from a one-hit wonder cult act into one of the most popular live bands on the planet. They'll be the first to tell you that Wayne hasn't always been this way. Although he has a controlling, mean-spirited side most people don't see, the past couple of years he's been way out of character. It's like he's changed into a different person. It's a big reason so many of them have been Team Michelle during the separation and divorce. You know, the one we first reported almost two years ago.
Another theory that Wayne is just a desperate-for-attention rock star looking to stay relevant in his old age, and the easiest way to get that attention is by igniting controversy. I don't buy that excuse either. Wayne Coyne has been a desperate-for-attention rock star looking to stay relevant for 20 years, and he accomplished it by co-writing and performing beautiful, cartoonish pop music that anyone with a soul or color wheel could enjoy. It's the reason we all liked the Lips in the first place, and the reason (let's be honest) why you probably can't name any Lips song released since At War With The Mystics.
So, if it's not a midlife crisis, Wayne being Wayne, or a contrived attempt for attention, why is Wayne pulling a Hulk Hogan and abandoning the Hulkamaniacs for his personal N.W.O.? I think I know the answer. It's literally been hiding under Wayne's nose the entire time.
It's probably not a coincidence, but the arrival of New Wayne Coyne seems to directly coincide with the time Old Wayne Coyne started snorting and eating up the cocaine lifestyle. If I was an economist, I'd probably put some graph together that shows Wayne's weird behavior and how it aligns with his abrupt departure from whimsical and whacky to disturbing and creepy. But I'm not an economist. I'm just a blogger watching one of my all-time favorite artists drive away in a priest driven ambulance.
"But wait a second. It's Wayne Coyne. What's next? Mary Fallin likes penis?"
Okay, decent point. However...
Even though the psychedelic music and glitter bombs may have made you think otherwise, Wayne Coyne apparently wasn't a big drug addict during the band's glory days from the 1990s through the 2000s. Go watch the 2005 documentary The Fearless Freaks. To paraphrase a scene, the philosophical Old Wayne Coyne says something like "I've certainly done my fair share of drugs, but not anymore." And he didn't just say that because he was on camera and trying to make himself marketable. According to several Moles, he was either really clean or really good at hiding it. In fact, Wayne would allegedly make fun of and criticize others who were loaded or using drugs around the band. (Note: I don't think Wayne considered alcohol or marijuana to be drugs.)
But that was the Old Wayne Coyne. He's been destroyed by those evil natured robots. Old Wayne Coyne liked to build spaceships in his backyard with his wife and friends and make silly movies. New Wayne Coyne likes to snort coke and take X and have orgies with young groupies. I'm not saying one is right and one is wrong, but VH1's "Behind The Music" got old the first time. Old Wayne Coyne helped write The Soft Bulletin. The New Wayne Coyne... screw him. Let's read about him bragging about drug abuse.
From a March 2013 interview in the Quiteus:
I only take MDMA (ecstasy) and coke and stuff. I've only done acid a few times, but these drugs are like the recreational fun drugs. That's what I call them. I'm not doing them in any soul-searching way. Even mushrooms, I'm like [high voice] "ah, it's fun, we're awake and we're having fun!" Never "I need to go inside myself and discover". There are drugs that let you relax, there are drugs that let your mind not be whatever it is that's torturing you for a while, and sometimes when you wake up you have a different perspective. "Why did I worry about that so much?" That, for me, is the beauty of those sorts of drugs. Your mind that can't escape itself, drugs allow it to be not so intense.
And a October 2013 interview with Stereogum:
We played a show with Diplo in Costa Rica about two years ago, and we all hung out together. And we went and explored some forest together and got drunk together and did some cocaine together and talked about music and live shows and all this and hung out with his people from his Major Lazer ensemble and stuff.
If you remember correctly, Old Wayne Coyne did stuff like this:
Serious question: could you imagine New Wayne Coyne doing anything like that today? I sure can't. In 2006, Wayne turned a story about a man who had to pour urine on his face into a lesson so deep and profound that I don't really know how to explain it. If they asked him to do this today, he'd probably get coked up and forget to show up. Well, technically he didn't show up at 2006 graduation, but you get my point.
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