Maranda Pleasant: You guys have had more longevity, life, and creativity than almost any band out there. Every time I see you, you look more on fire. What is it that makes you come so fully alive?
Wayne Coyne: Gosh! Well, presuming that all that is true—that’s wonderful that you say that. This wave of keeping perspective and being happy and being energetic and being creative—the bad news is, that’s all tied to being healthy. We wish that we could take magic drugs, play around all day, read, and do nothing strenuous, and be the smartest, happiest people in the world. The truth is, it’s all about sweat. In Oklahoma now, the past week has been one of these with fucking dry north winds, where it’s like ten degrees outside. My hair gets completely dried up. When I do yoga, it gets all sweaty, and the best thing for dried up hair isn’t shampoo, it’s sweat. Everything that you do in your life that helps you sweat is good for you. Whenever you’re sweating, you’re adding to your potential to enjoy the day or enjoy the moment or enjoy your life.
Eating good things and being around people who are happy—you want to be influenced by the world because it has so many cool things about it, but it also has a bunch of bad things about it. Being around people who are happy and people who are creative, that’s what you do if you’re lucky in your life.
MP: Do you have a routine, some way you keep your center? Is there something that feeds you at that deeper level?
WC: Most of my days, they’re not that chaotic. We do a lot of things, especially here around the compound, around the house. But one of our little cats, we have this one little cat that just is relentless. It got out this little spot in the fence, but the way that it got out didn’t let it get back in. Anyway, it disappeared. I thought it got killed or I thought it ran away. It disappeared a day or two before Christmas. It was fucking freezing cold here, and I just gave up after a while. It drives you crazy thinking it’s out there in the world.
On New Year’s Day, I was in Tasmania. The people that were here at the house found the cat. It just walked back in. And I didn’t realize how much these little things made my life, how much it enriched my life, until it was gone. I think it’s all those things. I really do love this idea of family and, even though it’s my family of friends and I don’t have any kids of my own, I love this idea of family and taking care of things. If I feel like I’ve not done that, I don’t feel good about my day. I think that’s what centers me the most—all my people, all my animals.
MP: You’re very involved in animal charities. You’re a huge supporter of treating animals humanely.
WC: It’s really because we live in Oklahoma City, which I think is probably one of the worst cities in the entire world in terms of stray dogs and owners that don’t take care of them. Our shelters—I don’t know the numbers but every day they are putting animals down. There’s too many of them. It’s horrible, it’s horrible, it’s horrible. People come here from all over the world and they’ll say, “Oh my god, did you know there’s a pack of dogs on your street?” There’s packs of dogs on every street because people don’t fucking take care of their dogs. I don’t know why it’s like that.
I’m sure if I lived in some place, London or San Francisco, where you don’t see dead animals or suffering animals every day, I probably wouldn’t think about it very much. I think it’s mostly because I’m here in the middle of it and I want to do something about it. I’m not some bust-out humanitarian; I’m immersed in a horrible situation here and I want to change it.
MP: I just listened to some of your awesome new tracks from The Terror. What was it inside of you that really needed to be borne?
WC: Advertising agencies come to you and they are great fans, they are great creative people themselves, but they ask you to do something, and you say, “Well, we will, we’ll create something together.” And it is work. It’s like you’re doing something and they’re saying, “Change this” and “Change that.” It’s not hard, horrible work, but creatively it’s not just freedom.
When we’ve done a lot of stuff like that—that really requires production and work and sticking with it—a lot of times in response to that we’ll just go and do, like I say, masturbation music. Where you’re just sitting there, playing sounds simply because you like it. A lot of times, when we do music like that, it is internal, strange music.
Dave Fridmann’s studio in New York—that’s where we work—he had a second studio installed maybe two years ago, so you can work in two studios at the same time. We’d be in one studio mixing while some of the guys would be in another studio just playing music. Often times I’d walk in and be like, “Ah, that’s cool, what are you guys doing?” And they’d just be dicking around.
This is the honest truth: some of these recordings that are on our new record, I’d recorded them on my phone. It’s just kind of got a very strange sound to it. I’d record the stuff that they’d be playing and then two days later I’d say, “I really like this little part.” And it’d be on my phone. And they’d be like, “Man, I don’t even remember how we were doing that.” We would take these thing off my phone and turn them into tracks.
It’s all about listening. Letting the music and letting whatever is happening overtake you.
I don’t know if it’s something that we all felt had to come out of us. It’s hard to say what needs to come out and what needs to stay in. I think if you’re lucky, you start to make music and it gets things out.
MP: What were some of the things that it got out of you?
WC: When we would be doing this sort of music in the dark, sometimes at three o’clock in the morning when no one cared what we did—I think that’s the dilemma. When we’re busy entertaining, twenty people will stop by. It’s not that it’s difficult. You’re sitting there talking to people, people are drinking, it’s a great time.
But it’s hard to sit in the corner and go inside yourself when that’s happening. A lot of times, we would simply be doing things at two or three in the morning. Weird, introspective, internal music.
I think the reason we called the record The Terror is, we acknowledged to each other this dilemma that love is larger than life. I know that is absolutely true for people when they are young—you don’t want to be alive if the things that you love in your life aren’t there. Love is the thing that you pursue because it’s the thing that gives you all this life, or you believe that, anyway. Part of what we’re saying with this music is that love, it’s not a magic gravity that keeps everything up. Your life, unfortunately—and I mean this—your life is built on when love dies. There’s a lot of love in your life that will simply die. And you wish that you died with it, you know? But you don’t. And you go, oh, well, here I am.
I don’t know how if that will stay true for the rest of my life or what. But I know at the time we were making this music, it was true for us.
MP: What is love to you?
WC: It comes down to your personality, which you don’t get to pick. I think I’m really lucky that the things I’m able to love—people, animals—it’s like the more you put yourself into it, the more you get out of it.
Part of me just wants to keep all these things with me and love them and keep it all together. But that doesn’t always work out for the best. Some people, they don’t want to be that loved, they don’t want to be that involved, they don’t want to be part of your family. That’s where the pain comes in. You want the world to be what you want it to be, and sometimes the world doesn’t want that.
That’s because, Maranda, we’re just sensitive people. We wouldn’t be artists, writers, painters, musicians, if we weren’t sensitive. All the great things that I get to be curious about, see, and experience because I’m sensitive to the world, it also opens up these areas where there’s a lot of pain and suffering. You’re just aware, aware, aware. I’ll accept the pain and the suffering, because I know that in that there’s a lot of beauty, too. We don’t ever want to shut down and say, I’m afraid to go that far down the road because there’s going to be pain. There’ll be beauty, too, and if you stop here, you stop all that.
The Terror refers to the sudden realization about yourself. We are all really alone. We’re isolated in our own mind. I want to know what you’re thinking, you want to know what I’m thinking. But we’re alone. In our own minds. We’re trapped in this sort of isolation. I think that’s what I mean by “the terror.” There’s a cave, we go inside of ourselves because we want to know more, and we turn this one corner and we go, Oh my god—I didn’t know that was in here. We can never go back to the way we were. It’s like a horrible car accident—you’re never the same after that. It’s something that you’ll think about every day for the rest of your life.
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