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Flaming Lips - The Fearless Freaks

  by Mark Rowland

published: 18 / 6 / 2005

Flaming Lips - The Fearless Freaks


The new Flaming Lips DVD, like many other current rock doc films,looks beyond band member’s public personas to their personal experiences. Mark Rowland finds that it is a must for Flaming Lips fans, but also a fascinating documentary in its own right

'The Fearless Freaks' is part of a rock doc renaissance that includes 'Metallica: Some Kind of Monster' and DIG. Film-makers are looking beyond band member’s public personas to their personal experiences. Brad Beesley looks intensely into the family lives of frontman Wayne Coyne and multi-instrumentalist Stephen Drozd, both of whom have dealt with their fair share of dramatic events. Coyne grew up in a big family, and was constantly surrounded by drugs and music, mainly through Tommy, the eldest of his four brothers. They formed the Fearless Freaks, a club with other neighbourhood kids where they would take drugs and play violent sports. These days, Tommy is in and out of jail, far removed from Wayne’s success with the Lips. Wayne also recounts the time when armed robbers held up the fast food restaurant that he was working in. Staring death in the face that night, he says, has shaped Coyne’s attitude to life: death could come at any time, so live your life to the fullest. Drozd’s past has been much more tragic. His mother, sister and brother all committed suicide within a short period of time and, like Coyne, his eldest brother has been in and out of jail. He is also the focus of one of the most harrowing scenes of the film: when he shoots up heroin while talking about his addiction. Drozd has, thankfully, since kicked the habit, after Wayne hit him during the recording of 'Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots'. As well as these amazingly candid scenes, there’s plenty of footage for Flaming Lips fans: old live footage of the band, an overview of their career and albums, some great interviews with the band and people around them (including Jack White, Juliette Lewis and the Butthole Surfers’ Gibby Haynes), and footage from the Lips’ bizarre up-coming film, 'Christmas on Mars'. There are plenty of extras to get your teeth into too. Some great deleted scenes and outtakes that were seemingly cut due to the length of the film, live songs that span their career, photo slide shows and director’s and band members’ commentaries. This is a must for a Flaming Lips fan, but it is also a fascinating documentary in its own right. This is less about the band’s biography (which most fans would know) and more about what makes each member tick, which sets it apart from most rock docs.

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