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Interview:
Miley Cyrus gig is weird, in a good way, for Flaming Lips
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Miley Cyrus is no stranger to shock and awe.

Her transition from the Disney Channel's wholesome Hannah Montana to the pot-advocating, skin-baring diva of 2013's "Bangerz" has raised plenty of eyebrows -- and prompted plenty of parents to cover their childrens' eyes and ears -- during the past five years or so. And on the musical end, the daughter of country singer Billy Ray Cyrus has prompted a few jaws to drop via her association with Flaming Lips, the edgy, experimental troupe from Oklahoma that's part of the Dead Petz ensemble that recorded Cyrus' last album and is currently touring with the singer.

"She's just cool. I just love her to death," Lips leader Wayne Coyne says by phone from his home in Oklahoma City. It was Coyne who recruited Cyrus to record a version of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" for the Lips' 2014 recreation of the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album, and they hit it off so well that they began working on more material together.

"We do stuff in her studio in L.A., or in mine here in Oklahoma," Coyne, 54, says. "She really is awesome, and it really is about music and friendship. It does seem weird, but we've been in the weird category for a little while now, so...why not, y'know?"

Lips bandmate Steven Drozd acknowledges he was "surprised at first" when Coyne brought Cyrus into the band's orbit. But that's not the case anymore.

"Now I'm pretty into it," Drozd, 45, reports. "She's a lot of fun. She's fun to be in the studio with. She's easygoing, mellow, tries really hard. She's funny. I think people would be really surprised if they could spend five minutes with her and see how much fun it is."

Cyrus released the "Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz" online on Aug. 30, after performing with the group during the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards. The 23-track set was co-written mostly with Coyne and Drozd, who also produced many of the tracks, and its ethereal ambience is a far cry from either Hannah Montana or "Bangerz." "It's not like we were trying to write pop songs for Miley Cyrus," Drozd explains. "We write the songs we like and if she can sing them, it works. It's just about what she wants the next phase of her career to be."

Cyrus and Her Dead Petz are doing a short eight-show theater run this fall, and it's not known if the group will continue beyond that. "She's very creative and always has ideas, so you never know," Coyne says. The Lips, meanwhile, will forge their own path -- including a 20th anniversary of the group's "Clouds Taste Metallic" on Nov. 27 -- and plan to be proud of the association regardless of what the future holds.

"It's just another crazy thing Flaming Lips can have to talk about," Drozd says. "Twenty years from now if you're looking at the Flaming Lips career, it'll be, 'Oh, they did that thing with pop star Miley Cyrus for a couple years.' If she's the biggest pop star 20 years from now it'll still be crazy. if not, it's just another weird thing we did -- and there are plenty of those."

Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz and Dan Deacon

Saturday, Nov. 21. Doors open at 7 p.m.

The Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave.

Tickets are sold out.

Call 313-961-5451 or visit thefillmoredetroit.com.

Web Site: www.thefillmoredetroit.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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