Arts Brief: Lips Flick

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The guys from the Flaming Lips are spending this week in Cassadaga, New York, dealing with some last-minute technical changes to the soundtrack of their new movie, Christmas on Mars. Wayne Coyne, the fabulous frontman of Oklahoma’s most psychedelic band, took time to talk about the sci-fi fantasy, which opened at the KGB Bar cinema last week.

“The idea for the movie started in the mid-90s,” says Coyne, director and co-star of the film. “And then we spent over seven years collecting locations and costumes and actors and sounds and music.” After filming began, the Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots album was released, and the movie was “interrupted by success.”

The grainy black-and-white film is set during an actual Christmas on the red planet, and Lips drummer Steven Drozd stars as Major Syrtis, one of a handful of earthlings colonizing Mars. During what seems to be an ongoing psychotic episode, the major watches a fellow earthling dressed as Santa kill himself in between hallucinations of bloody newborns and astronauts with giant female genitalia for faces.

“We always knew that when we made it we’d be diving off into Salvador Dali-David Lynch-Jim Jarmusch land,” says Coyne. “We’re just gonna make a fucking weird movie.”

Christmas on Mars, which will screen at select theaters before going to DVD in November, will likely appeal to serious Flaming Lips fans, sci-fi geeks and consumers of LSD. But the person Coyne mostly made the movie for was himself.

“You really do have to make your art to save yourself,” explains Coyne. “And that’s pretentious bullshit to say, but in the end, I know that I’m just doing it because I like it. I want other people to like it too, don’t get me wrong. I hope people see it and say ‘Hey, that was cool. What’s for dinner?’”

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