You can never (ever) predict what Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne might do. Aaron Behrens, singer for Austin dance-rock band Ghostland Observatory, is the latest artist to attest to that fact.
Evidence: While the two men were eating dinner and sharing stories backstage last April in Santiago, Chile, during the inaugural Lollapalooza Chile, Behrens started recounting his run-in with Austin police during South By Southwest 2004, when an outdoor performance by Latin funk band Ozomatli turned into a near riot. Coyne was taken by the tale and began recording Behrens telling it, with no clear intention of using it creatively.
A little over a year later the world gets to hear the result of that sit-down with "Tasered And Maced," a track on the Flaming Lips new collaboration album, "The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends," in which a droning synth line plays over the slightly manipulated recording of Behrens spinning his yarn. Not a song so much as a sonic experiment where Coyne tries on his Alan Lomax field recording guise.
Reached by phone while driving to his Austin-area home, Behrens talked about getting hit by a Taser and Mace, becoming a surprise character in the Flaming Lips' discography, and how it'd be really tough for anyone to out-weird Wayne Coyne. (Ghostland Observatory plays July 21 at Whitewater Amphitheater in New Braunfels. $25.40; www.whitewaterrocks.com; 830-964-3800.)
On the near riot: It's just like I say on the track, it was a South By show, when Ozomatli was playing a show outside. This was before Ghostland, but I knew Thomas (Turner) at the time, and we had done some jamming together. We were there for Ozo and everyone is playing and chilling when the cops come and tell everyone to go inside, so the crowd starts booing, and right when he's going back in they grab the Ozomatli drummer and slam him on the ground. I kind of lost it, and in the end it all becomes this mess of Mace and pepper spray.
On hearing the finished track: I'm telling this story last year while we're in Santiago, just a couple guys sitting around and talking about stuff, and Wayne says he has to record me. It's nothing crazy, just me telling a story and I had no idea what he was ever going to do with it, if anything. Hearing the Flaming Lips jam over that, it's another notch in my belt, for sure. He calls me and tells me that (Coldplay's) Chris Martin doesn't want their track used on the digital version (the album was originally a vinyl-only release for Record Store Day) and they want to put the track of me talking on the album. Of course you say "right on" when that happens.
On weird Wayne: I have nothing but love and respect for the Lips, for them constantly going to new places and pushing new boundaries. I asked him how he does it after this long and he just says you gotta keep on going and pushing yourself. When we played Tulsa I called Wayne to come to the show and he shows up with a human skull with chrome dripped on top with a USB hard drive inside of it that contains a 24-hour song. Who thinks of that type of stuff for merch? I dig their courage. They're the godfathers to me, and I'm honored to have my name mentioned in the same breath as one of their albums.