Flaming Lips prepare for Oklahoma honor

CLEVELAND (Billboard) - After weeks of controversy and uncertainty, Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry is scheduled to sign an executive order Tuesday (April 28) that names the Flaming Lips’ “Do You Realize??” as the official rock song of Oklahoma.

Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips performs at the Virgin Festival in Baltimore, Maryland. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne told that the experience has been alternately exciting and disappointing, and, in quintessential Lips fashion, always surreal.

“It just seemed to me the whole thing was absurd to begin with, and now it even becomes more absurd,” Coyne said. “Now I really feel like it’s something worth fighting for because I don’t want people to just think, ‘Oh, Oklahoma is this backward state as we suspected.’”

The Oklahoma City band has watched as its popular song (from 2002’s “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots”) won an Internet contest for best Sooner State rock song -- over tracks by The All-American Rejects, Leon Russell and The Call. Over the course of a month, the Oklahoma state senate passed a measure to officially name the song the state’s rock anthem, and then the state House of Representatives rejected it because band member Michael Ivins wore a T-shirt adorned with the image of a hammer and sickle, a Communist symbol.

“You know, when it happened a couple of months back, that seemed surreal ... and then when all of this (controversy) started, I think everybody’s knee-jerk reaction in the beginning was, ‘Ah, we knew it was too good to be true. That’s more of the Oklahoma we thought we were dealing with,’” Coyne said. “But it’s not true, and I think that’s the main reason I wanted to make sure I got to say something about it.

“I don’t think we’re battling against what we feel is like a backwards mentality here. It’s really just a few religious wackos that think they can tell everybody what to do. It’s not even, to me, (a matter of) Democrats versus Republicans. It’s really just a couple of these small-minded guys who are the most popular guys in their church and their little small towns. In some ways it’s so absurd, it can only make us look good and them look stupid.”

For Coyne, the best part of the ordeal is Gov. Henry’s veto of the House’s rejection of the contest results.

“There are a lot of other great things that are happening in Oklahoma,” Coyne said. “And you know for the governor to stand up and veto it and be on our side, it’s such a great story in the end.”

Coyne hinted that the band has one more wrinkle planned for Tuesday’s ceremony, when Henry will sign the executive order at the Oklahoma History Center in Oklahoma City.

“I think we’ll print up a couple of thousand of these (hammer-and-sickle) T-shirts, and everybody who comes to this thing will be wearing one,” Coyne said. “We’ll see if we can get the governor to wear one too.”

(Editing by Sheri Linden at Reuters)