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The Flaming Lips at the Royal Oak, 5 Things To Know

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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The Flaming Lips have been rock’s resident weirdos for nearly 25 years now — happily and unapologetically.

The trio of Wayne Coyne, Steven Drozd and Michael Ivins has been wreaking multimedia mayhem over the course of 14 studio albums, theatrical stage shows, visual projects and creative collaborations, including a recent — and surprising, even by their standards — association with Miley Cyrus. She appears on the Lips’ latest, “Oczy Mlody,” which came out in January and offers a wealth of airy, ambient but wholly accessible soundscapes in the group’s ambitious, anything-goes tradition.

• So where does an album title like “Oczy Mlody” come from? According to Coyne, it’s a phrase in a Polish translation of the Erskine Caldwell novel “Close To Home.” “Steven (Drozd) found that little group of words was in a sentence in this little paperback we had, and I think it sounded to him like some fun drug they’ll make in the future or something,” Coyne says with a laugh. “It turned out that this funny little phrase actually meant ‘eyes of the young,’ which we really liked. You always hope there’s some little identity that starts to happen, on its own. That (phrase) definitely helped us here.”

• The result, meanwhile, is also more song-oriented than immediate predecessors such as 2013’s “The Terror” and 2009’s “Embryonic.” “Steve and I struggle a lot to make (an album) sound like ‘This is of a piece. This is of a mood, a mind,’ because we like records like that — like Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ or Miles Davis’ ‘Sketches Of Spain,’” Coyne, 56, explains by phone from Oklahoma. “On the past couple of records we made some effort to say, ‘Man, I really like this mood’ and try to push it into one area more than another. This time we just worked on whatever songs we stumbled upon and then put them together into this album. I think it’s still cohesive, like we like, but sometimes it’s so much more fun just to make some cool-sounding music and see what that evokes. I think you can hear that throughout the album; Some of it’s more pronounced and more successful than others, but I feel like it works really well.”

• Contrary to what some may think, however, Coyne says the Lips don’t put a lot of pressure on themselves to be different, or odd. “A lot of artists, they kind of sit around hoping something new happens. We never have that dilemma,” Coyne says. “We’re never that worried about coming up with something that’s absolutely never been heard before. We never think we have to invent the wheel. We like music enough that we’re kind of glad we get to do our own thing.”

• The Lips have been working with Cyrus for the past four years or so, starting with the group’s “With A Little Help From My Friends,” a guest-filled 2014 reimagining of the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” and continuing the following year on “Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz. “I love working with her, just ’cause she’s badass,” Coyne says. “The more we do it the more we like it, and the easier it gets. And we really do love the way she sings. Man, she can ... sing.”

• To that end, Coyne expects for Lips-Cyrus collaborations and predicts the Dead Petz will rise again. “We already have a couple of things that I think are going to be ... cool,” he says. “I think (Cyrus) and us, as the Flaming Lips, we like the idea that we don’t really know what we’re going to do. A lot of it will depend on what happens when we’re together and the vibe of what she wants to do. Does she want to make a big, commercial record, or just a weird record? We don’t ever really know. We just start making music that we like and include her on it, and it starts to grow.”

If You Go:

• The Flaming Lips performs Tuesday, March 14 (doors open at 7:30 p.m.), at Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. Fourth St. Tickets are sold out. Call 248-399-2980 or visit royaloakmusictheatre.com.

Web Site: www.royaloakmusictheatre.com

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