Exclusive Interview

"We Love It! But Can You Change..." Flaming Lips on Their Super Bowl Song

Steven Drozd on the process behind "Sun Blows Up Today," the new track the Lips perform in Hyundai's Super Bowl commercial
 / 
C Flanigan

This Sunday the Flaming Lips will play for their biggest audience ever. 

Not even that appearance on 90210 some 20 years ago will top this: The Oklahoma weirdos will appear in Hyundai's Super Bowl commercial, playing their new track, "Sun Blows Up Today," written specifically for the ad. 

They'll rock out on a home's roof, in the kitchen and on a pontoon boat, while their tour bus will launch confetti. There's even human bowling, which means the 110 million-plus viewers will get a giant dose of the Lips' psychedelic awesomeness. Thank God for football.

We called up Lips multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd at home in Oklahoma City to chat about the Super Bowl track, and he told us the hilarious story behind the song and advertisement coming together...

Drozd: "I thought [Hyundai's ad agency] probably had a list of 30 bands and we were No. 21 on the list. But it turns out the two guys that are in charge of creative wanted us from the beginning. I thought, 'Well that’s cool. They're fans.' I imagined some Hollywood ad agency douchebaggery. But when we met, they were serious music heads, they loved us and wanted what the Lips do.

I imagined some Hollywood ad agency douchebaggery

"The funny story, though, is that before they told us what they wanted, we sent them a demo of a new song. They wrote an e-mail back and said, 'We love it! But can you change the chords, the melody, the lyrics and the feel of it?' [laughs] So they don’t like anything about the song, they were just being nice. Which was funny. But we’d experienced that before. We didn’t take it personally. 

"So they gave us some parameters to work with. They wanted [1995's seventh LP] Clouds Taste Metallic rock meets the symphonic grandiosity of 'Do You Realize??' So we started working on 'Sun Blows Up Today' in [frontman] Wayne [Coyne]’s studio over a few weeks in November. It was strange to work on a song that felt like retro Lips. It's like revisiting our past."

But Drozd adds that "Sun Blows Up Today" isn't representative of their "dark, depressing" new album The Terror (out April 2), so he's worried potential new fans might be frightened: 

"Are we gonna get any new fans? Well, I hope [the ad] generates enough interest for people that don’t know us to Google our name. But I worry about people who don’t know anything about us thinking,  'Hey, I like this song. I’ll check these guys out.' Then they get The Terror and are like, 'Oh my god what is this? That, or they get [the band's deeply experimental, play-four-CDs-at-once album] Zaireeka [laughs].” 

Watch the Flaming Lips in Hyundai's Super Bowl ad below.

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