Taking on a classic album like The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band for a complete modern recreation is no small task — especially with a cast of musicians as diverse as Miley Cyrus and Maynard James Keenan of Tool and A Perfect Circle. Even though Beatles fans are already calling blasphemy, Wayne Cohen of The Flaming Lips has soldiered ahead with With a Little Help From My Fwends — a massive collaboration project where The Flaming Lips re-do Sgt. Pepper from start to finish with their own spin in mind.
Of course, to fans of The Flaming Lips, this will come as no surprise. Their psychedelic rock sound is dripping in influence from The Beatles’ discography — perhaps from Sgt. Pepper more than any other record. Wayne Coyen recently sat down with Rolling Stone to pick out his essential Beatles songs.
“Tomorrow Never Knows”
“It’s one chord, this beat that never changes. They have endless melodies and harmonies and chord structure and beats and all these things at their command – and yet they choose to say, ‘No we’re just gonna do this.’ It’s still such a stunning recording.”
“A Day in the Life”
“When you think about when they made it, in ’67, it does set the sort of blueprint that becomes classic rock. I mean, a lot of groups were starting to do that kind of thing, but them having such an epic, strange, mind-fuck of a song and it being done by someone who’s gonna end up being one of the Gods of the universe, John Lennon – it’s just such a motherf***er, it’s almost untouchable.”
“Strawberry Fields Forever”
“I don’t know how much of this is my subconscious seeping in and making it magical and mysterious and beautiful, because ‘Strawberry Fields’ is so much a part of me – when I was a child even. Even when the Beatles made it, I remember my brothers playing it and listening to the end where John is supposed to be saying, ‘I buried Paul’ and ‘Paul McCartney’s dead’ and all this great stuff… You can think, ‘That shit’s sophisticated, I can’t f*** with that.’ But the John Lennon ones can trick you into thinking that they’re simple. And then you get in there and he’s f***ing weird as f***.”
“Here Comes the Sun”
“It’s so perfectly arranged, you forget that they’re really playing quite fast. That’s something that you learn about Beatles music but you always forget. ‘Here Comes the Sun’ just rolls along so quick and you really have to sit and play along with it. You’re like, ‘Hold on! Hold on!’ You always think this is going too fast, and then you listen to theirs and they were always faster than you are. It still feels very relaxed and very mellow and all that, and it’s zipping along and they’re just such great, great singers.”
“We were asked to do ‘Revolution,’ the more rowdy electric version, for a Steve Jobs tribute or something like that a couple of years back. And that’s another one where you know, you can walk around your whole life and think, ‘I know that song,’ and you get in there and it’s like, ‘What the f***?’ John Lennon, he’s just a very unique guitar player, and you forget that because he’s John Lennon and you think he’s a songwriter. You think of him sitting on the piano doing ‘Imagine,’ but he’s so much richer and deeper than that. You get in there like, ‘F***!’ you know?”
“It’s All Too Much”
“This is a weird song. Not everyone knows it as well as I do, but once you get in there, again, it’s always cool and stunning. George, who’s looked at as under John and Paul, was just a fucking phenomenal singer with his own trip. The time signature is challenging even for someone like Steven. It sounds simple, but it ain’t simple.”
“The song has this feedback-y, great, distorted guitar. When you’re young, you’re really drawn to those dynamic, loudish things – you get the feeling that they all probably had heard Jimi Hendrix before the rest of the world. There’s these great f***ing freaky effects. There are a lot of those evocative impressionistic tricks that the music’s playing off. They’re just great lessons to remember – and of course, you never do because you get excited.”
Do you agree with Wayne Coyen’s picks? Are you excited to see what The Flaming Lips have done with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band?
[Image via Instagram]