Bands In Tandem – A Flaming Lips Brainstorm Gives Birth to Electric Würms (so says Steven Drozd)

Steven Drozd has already had a very busy year. So far, 2014 has seen Flaming Lips begin recording a cover album focused on The Beatles’ work (With a Little Help from My Fwends, to be released on October 28, 2014). They’ve also embarked on a tour of the United States that has featured more than a few stops. It has been a little crazy but, now, things are about to get a little more unusual. It was recently announced that Drozd and Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne had traded positions (Drozd assuming lead vocal responsibilities and Coyne focusing on music and compositional aspects) and founded another band together with the help of noisy Nashville iconoclasts Linear Downfall. It’s called Electric Würms.

That announcement was huge, but the duo wasted no time in getting started on some new music too.  Electric Würms’ debut EP  was released on August 19, 2014, via Warner Brothers. When asked how the brainstorming sessions for different Flaming Lips endeavors manifest, Drozd explains:

“Wayne and I have conversations and talk about different ideas that we have all the time. Most of those conversations usually start with a phrase like ‘Wouldn’t it be great if…?. The first conversation around the project which eventually came to be known as Electric Würms started exactly like that about two years ago. We were just talking about, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if a band did THIS?’ And ‘THIS’ that particular time was to do a side project which didn’t necessarily have to have anything to do with Flaming Lips, it could just be this whole other thing; a different design completely. Even back then, he was talking about maybe having me be the singer of the group and the frontman in a way, while he just sort of stood off to the side and played an instrument or conducted the band. It sounded interesting and exciting, so we started working at it to see how it might sound and, now, it’s real; we made some music and have it out and while I’m still a little self-conscious about being up at the front of the band, but I’m getting used to it.

“To be honest, you know, me going up front was more Wayne’s idea than it was mine – but it really is fun,” continues Drozd. “We did a few rehearsals for the Würms not long ago, and it was wild! For the first time, I finally saw the appeal in being the lead singer; I mean, I am playing guitar on a couple of things but, for the most part, I’m just standing up in front listening to these people make this great music, and then I sing! That’s a pretty sweet deal – I get it now!”

There’s no doubt that, while it might be Drozd’s first time spending any amount of time as the focus for a band rather than a support structure, he rises to the occasion on the Musik Die Shwer zu Twerk EP. Throughout these six songs, Drozd presents himself as a shockingly solid force as his band swirls torrents of absolutely enormous electronic sound before, behind, and around him. Songs like the groovy, glitchy and gothy “The Bat,” the very trippy, instrumental “Futuristic Hallucination” (which sounds as though the whole track is expanding and contracting wildly as it works its way along) and the rangey rock of “Transform” all combine to present a surprisingly vibrant and lush offering which is easy to lose oneself in. It’s surprising; it is an EP, after all, which means it’s intentionally abbreviated in length. Listeners will quickly agree, however,  that this first trip leaves nothing to be desired. In fact, it’s a great first effort which leaves enough loose ends hanging that those who listen will find themselves excited and hungry to discover more.

Electric Würms EP Cover

“We had a pretty good idea of what we wanted to have to present this band at first, so we really made sure that’s what we had when we were done with it,” says Drozd firmly and with intent apparent. “We wanted to get off the map of where Flaming Lips had been and do something completely separate from what fans know of us, so I hope people like it.  They’re not going to hear “Do You Realize” and “She Don’t Use Jelly,” they’re going to hear these weird pieces of music that we’ve concocted with this band Linear Downfall. It’s different and I’m really excited about it, and I hope those who hear it are too.”

Now that the EP is out, there’s no doubt that Drozd is excited to get out and do the few shows that Electric Würms has confirmed to promote the EP, but he also knows that the band’s time will have to be precious and well-spent in order to balance with the obligations he and Wayne Coyne have to the Flaming Lips. As potentially arduous as that may be, the singer takes care to point out that he’s not worried because there’s a plan in place to make sure all the duo’s projects get the time they need. “Even before we had the EP finished, we knew what we’d have to do in order to make sure both the Flaming Lips and Electric Wurms get the time they need,” says Drozd, almost sounding as though he’s rolling up his sleeves through the phone. “We’re really hoping that this first EP and the shows we do in support of it are just the jumping-off point for us to continue doing this. I mean, the EP will come out and then we’ve got the few shows we’ve got to introduce it and, as long as those aren’t utter disasters, we’ll probably book more in the fall. After that, Flaming Lips will make another record and go on tour and then Electric Wurms will make another record and Electric Wurms will tour. That way, we’ll keep doing the big Flaming Lips shows as people have known them, but we’ll also get into smaller environments with the Wurms to put on a different kind of show. That’s the scenario we’re hoping for, and we’re both really hoping it works out that having both bands on the go will mean we’re just working on something constantly.”

Bill Adams is Editor-in-Chief of Ground Control Mag.