Word spread through the Mercury offices like flame through a lip: Wayne Coyne and the rest of his famous band, The Flaming Lips, were up on Mt. Tabor shooting a music video surrounded by naked bicyclers. I ditched my car at the entrance and ran to the top of the park to join other sweaty men in watching movie magic happen.
The video being shot was for the song “Watching the Planets,” which will appear on the Lips’ upcoming album, Embryonic, due out October 13th. I arrived expecting Bacchanal, but the scene was very laid-back. Several groups of bemused picnickers stood on the edge of one of Mt. Tabor's many bike trails, watching Wayne Coyne ride a bubble on a sea of half-naked Portlanders who were growing more and more exuberant. “They want to lose the pants,” I heard the director fret to a crew member, fearing expulsion from the park.
I joined drummer Kliph Scurlock in leaning on an amp and acting like this was totally normal. Scurlock expressed excitement over the album’s upcoming release, stating that, though the songs it contains are identifiably theirs, the band made a concerted effort to ditch songs that could have fit on their last album, At War With the Mystics, in pursuit of a new sound. "You can sit and not do anything or you can jump in [to something new.] It may not work, but you have something," Scurlock told me, adding that he was unsure of how the video would be distributed ("We might have to blur out the female boobs," Scurlock noted - fans of male boobs, rejoice!). Whether the video appears on DVD or YouTube was ultimately a discussion for another day, though - today was a day for bubble-riding and getting naked.