A Radio Show
A long time ago, McSweeney’s commissioned Richard Parks to make a one-hour radio show starring Wayne Coyne and the Flaming Lips. Richard disappeared for months and came back with something from another time—a continuous-play radio drama in the style of Mercury Theatre’s War of the Worlds, but mixed with contemporary music from bands like Bill Callahan and Okkervil River, with the musicians appearing in it as themselves. We listened to it, and didn’t know what to make of it, but the music was great, and there was all kinds of crazy sound design—car crashes and helicopters and murmuring tumors (yes, murmuring tumors). We’ve been playing it since then from time to time, and people seem to like it—so we thought we’d finally make it available to listeners.
So how can you hear it? We’re doing two special live broadcasts on November 24 and 25 on KCRW (and streaming on KCRW.com), at 5 p.m. Pacific. Tune in, if you can!
The players: Wayne Coyne, Michelle Martin Coyne, Steven Drozd, and Scott Booker (Flaming Lips), Will Sheff (Okkervil River), Eleanor Friedberger (Fiery Furnaces), Jack Hitt (This American Life, Harper’s), Paul F. Tompkins (The Pod F. Tompkast, Thrilling Adventure Hour, Mr. Show), Bill Callahan (aka Smog), Nico Muhly (Björk, Philip Glass, Antony and the Johnsons), Fat Bobby and Kid Millions (Oneida), and Edward Droste (Grizzly Bear).
Q: What is this?
A: It’s an hour-long radio play news report about Wayne Coyne’s head-shaped tumor.
Q: Who are the actors?
A: There are no actors. Or, all the actors play themselves. They are real-life musicians, mostly, and they contributed original compositions and recordings—apparently in an effort to quell the tumor’s symptoms. You’ll hear new compositions and recordings from Okkervil River, Eleanor Friedberger, Bill Callahan, Nico Muhly, Oneida, and the Flaming Lips themselves.
Q: Who else is in it?
A: Jack Hitt from This American Life, the actor Paul F. Tompkins, Wayne Coyne’s wife Michelle Martin-Coyne, and the Flaming Lips manager Scott Booker.
Q: Is it all real?
A: No, none of it. Except for the head-shaped tumor. Wayne Coyne really does have a head-shaped tumor lodged inside his leg.
Q: Who did all the sound design? The crazy helicopter crashes and everything?
A: His name is Rich Bologna. And his girlfriend’s name is Begonia.
Q: So if they got married and she took his name…
A: Her name would be Begonia Bologna.
Q: Why can’t I hear it, right at this moment, by clicking on a link?
A: Eventually, there will be a link for you to click, and just listen online, whenever. But first, this will be presented as a special live-radio event—just like the old days of radio theatre like Mecury Theatre and “War of the Worlds.” We encourage you to host your own listening parties. Mark your calendars, gather your friends, and take in “Wayne Coyne’s Human Head-Shaped Tumor”!
A: November 24 and November 25, at 5 p.m., Pacific.
A: On KCRW, 89.9 in Los Angeles and streaming around the world at KCRW.com.