Wayne Coyne's fantasy festival: the Beatles on the International Space Station

The Flaming Lips frontman curates a cosmic lineup featuring Miles Davis, Igor Stravinsky, Pink Floyd – and space cakes


Since we are talking fantasy, my festival would be on the International Space Station. In 1968 or 69, I remember talking about the film 2001: A Space Odyssey with my older brothers. The movie implied that we would be visited by aliens in some utopian society, which seemed very possible at seven or eight years old. So, the festival would hold 20,000 people, you could all book hotels and then go out into space. It’s the way I saw the future when I was a child.

The headline act

If we are putting on a fantasy concert, wouldn’t everybody want to see the Beatles? They would be backed by a giant orchestra and a bunch of electronic stuff; I Am the Walrus would have giant choirs and horns. I actually dream about seeing the Beatles, usually as older guys who stayed together and didn’t split up.

Five more acts

Staying true to the fantasy, I would love to have seen Miles Davis in the Bitches Brew era, where he totally went electric and said “fuck it”, and wore the red pants and had about 12 people in his group playing some freaky electronic stuff. I listened to it constantly, usually alone because everyone else thought it was too crazy.

On another stage, I’d have Igor Stravinsky conducting the Firebird Suite. This is a long classical piece, but I latched on to bits of it like they’re eight-minute pop songs. In my fantasy, it’s loud and giant and thick and sounds insane and intense, through giant electronic speakers, with a light show.

Elton John is such a great singer, with an emotional way of connecting, but it must be torture for him not to be able to sing like he did in his 20s. So, I’m going back in time to Elton in the 70s, when he has got the voice and the songs are still fresh. He would be in the outrageous glam costumes, maybe the gigantic boots from the film Pinball Wizard.

I have seen the Silver Apples play, but I’d love to have seen them in their peak, when they first came up with their bizarre sound with the oscillators and the drumming. Few, if any, videos of them playing live exist, so they’re a group that exist in the imagination.

I’d love to have seen Pink Floyd with Syd Barrett, or doing The Dark Side of the Moon. In the mid-70s, my younger brother went to a midnight movie to see a stupid science fiction film, A Boy and His Dog, but the support movie was Pink Floyd Live at Pompeii. My brother smoked a joint in the movie theatre while we watched Pink Floyd, and it utterly changed my life.

The non-musical activity

Whenever we are at festivals, my wife, Katy, and I always long for a giant, air-conditioned dark tent, where everybody goes at three o’clock in the afternoon and just sleeps. When you’re at a festival, you’re awake all night, but there’s never anywhere to just rest. The idea is that everybody goes to sleep at the same time, so no one misses anything.

The food

One of the great unfixable dilemmas that all festivals have is that you eventually have to go to the toilet that has been shared by half a million people. So, in my fantasy at the space station, we would eat space cake that has been exactly proportioned to your weight and your activities, so you eat just the right amount and never go to the bathroom. Isn’t that something we should all be striving for?

• The Flaming Lips’ new album American Head is released 11 September on Bella Union.


Interview by Dave Simpson

The GuardianTramp

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