"So, what would you like to talk about today?"
Nice of Steven Drozd — vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and 23-year member of the Oklahoma-born psychedelic pop collective The Flaming Lips — to toss out the first question in a recent phone interview. Truth to tell, there is a lot to discuss about the band, its performances and offshoot projects.
For starters, there is the concert Lips leader Wayne Coyne, Drozd and company will stage Sunday evening to close this year's Bunbury Music Festival in Cincinnati. Then there is an upcoming side project album credited to Electric Würms in which Drozd and Coyne trade frontman roles. If that's not enough, a Beatles tribute record awaits release this fall. And what about the Lips' alliance with one of its most outspoken yet unexpected fans, Miley Cyrus?
"There are always so many things going on," Drozd said. "I think they all kind of move along together. But there's the planning and there's the reality, as in trying something that might not work. Like a year ago, we were performing most of (the 2013 Flaming Lips album) The Terror. Some of our fans really liked that, but I think a lot of people wanted something more than just that vibe.
"So Wayne started considering all that. He's always working to maximize what we can do with the live show, but there is only so much planning we can do. A lot of it we just have to try and see if it works or not. If it doesn't work, we just move on to something else.
"We have definitely done our share of festivals, though. I feel if any band has learned how to do a festival show, it's us. We've already played a bunch of them this year, so I think when we get to Bunbury, we'll be doing probably our biggest festival show. It will be pretty crazy and insane and we'll pull out all the stops. It should be a good time, for sure."
The band's summer plans also include morphing into Electric Würms with the Aug. 19 release of a debut album, Musik, Die Shwer Zu Twerk. The recording features Drozd on vocals, guitar and keyboards but has Coyne assuming a background role on bass. A mix of prog and psychedelia, the record's six songs culminate in a very Lips-y cover of the 1972 Yes anthem Heart of the Sunrise.
"I think we wanted to do something that was obviously us but not the Flaming Lips," Drozd said. "It all went from there. Some of it stayed within the realms of what we imagined and some of it is a lot better than we thought it would be.
"Wayne and I have talked about doing Heart of the Sunrise in the Flaming Lips for years. But we thought it would be cool to strip away all that extra stuff and just have it be real basic, almost like a (former Yes vocalist) Jon Anderson folk song, like him singing it by himself. That just seemed like a weirder take on it than doing the full nine minutes that Yes did. If you see us live, you will see us do some of the crazy riff parts, too. But if you have the record, it's just that beautiful song."
A Flaming Lips tribute recording to the Beatles, With a Little Help From My Fwends, will follow in the fall. It will re-imagine tunes from the immortal album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, including a version of Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds that features Moby and Cyrus. The latter has been an especially vocal fan of the Lips.
"Wayne is always off doing something. He can't sit at home for too long. If he gets a chance, he'll be like, 'We'll go out to L.A. and shoot a video with Miley Cyrus. And Moby's in town, too. We'll get him to come over and do some stuff.' There's just this constant hub of activity with him."