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Ex-Flaming Lips drummer Kliph Scurlock clarifies comments, says Wayne Coyne is not a racist

on May 13, 2014, 1:38pm

Last week, Wayne Coyne spoke about the controversy surrounding the allegations of verbal abuse and racism and the firing of Flaming Lips drummer Kliph Scurlock. Now, Scurlock has come forward with a lengthy new statement of his own (via Stereogum). In it, he partially takes the blame for the band’s inner conflicts, expresses his total disinterest in the Lips’ recent projects with Miley Cyrus and Ke$ha, and more importantly, clarifies that he does not in fact believe Coyne is a racist.

Scurlock contends that many publications’ “sensationalized” headlines were simply not true:

Well, Friday afternoon rolls around and I’m sitting in my bedroom in my pajamas mixing a song and my phone starts beeping like crazy. I look at it and I’m getting several texts and I keep seeing the word “Pitchfork”. So, I go check Pitchfork and there’s the big headline, “Kliph Scurlock Accuses Wayne Coyne Of Racism”, which is untrue. I never have and never will accuse Wayne of racism because I know he’s not racist. And racism can kill careers. Just look at that NBA dude from last week. So, I freaked and put my unfinished, unedited “statement” up here on Facebook and sent it to Pitchfork. There were a lot of things that I would have taken out because I know how things get blown up and sensationalized and several things I would have clarified better and so on and so forth, but didn’t feel I had a chance to before Pitchfork grabbed ahold of the story and I reacted. So, again, it was the exact opposite of bravery.

He makes it a point to emphasize that Coyne is a not a racist:

Despite my “statement” trying to clarify that Wayne is absolutely not a racist and his actions that people are perceiving as racist actions were not done to be racist, but rather to jab at me, I still saw several headlines over the weekend that claimed I was accusing him of racism. Look, if I thought he was racist, I would say so. But I know that dude really, really well and I can say in no uncertain terms that he is absolutely NOT a racist. He’s a lot like me in that he doesn’t understand the depths of a lot of things. Because we, as a nation, do not understand. I’m certain he didn’t know what cultural appropriation is or how it affects people. And maybe he still doesn’t completely understand. I didn’t until relatively recently. (I’m almost 41, so relatively recently can be several years.) Anyway…..so, again, in all caps this time because it’s true – WAYNE COYNE IS NOT A RACIST. And I can say that because I know him. And I wouldn’t say it if it weren’t true because above all else, I value truth, no matter how shitty it is.

Scurlock partially blames himself for not caring about The Flaming Lips towards the end, specifically referencing the band’s collaborations with Miley Cyrus and Ke$ha.

And I see that I wasn’t the perfect soldier in the band I painted myself to be (and thought I was.) There were lots of things I wasn’t the least bit interested in – the Lipsha record, the Stone Roses cover album, the Sgt. Pepper cover album, working with Miley Cyrus, etc. – that I would just simply skate out of and not participate in. I operated under the delusion that it didn’t matter (and it ultimately didn’t. Those records got made or are getting made whether I’m around or not), but I can see how it might look to the other guys in the band and how it might cast doubts on my ultimate allegiance to said band. And, if that’s what they were or are thinking, they’re correct. While I did cast aside my personal feelings about working on the song with Kesha for the Heady Fwends album and worked on it as hard as I could, I didn’t do a single fucking thing on any of the songs earmarked for the Lipsha album. And I’m now of a mind to find that inexcusable. As far as the Flaming Lips are concerned, you’re either all in or you’re all out. And that’s an attitude I admire and part of what was so appealing to me when I joined that band in the first place. I have deluded myself over the past couple of years into thinking I was all in when I wasn’t.

He also addresses the recent death threats hurled at Coyne and said that, despite not agreeing with the Lips on a personal level, he will still continue to support their music:

I’ve been told that Wayne has gotten legitimate death threats over this which I just simply can’t get my head around and absolutely don’t condone. Even if he is racist (which I will go to the grave maintaining he isn’t), threatening someone’s life over it just doesn’t seem like a valid response on any level. And I’ve seen a bunch of people saying that they’re done with the Flaming Lips and will never buy another record or concert ticket. That to me is sad. I’m not done with that band. I will be buying the next record and surely the record after that and the record after that and so on. And I’m sure I will love them. And I will continue to love and cherish the previous records. And I want to see them live. The Flaming Lips put on an amazing live show. That’s one of the reasons I fell so hard for them in the 1990s. But it’s everyone’s personal choice. I appreciate people taking a stand against something they see as wrong (which is something I do all the time), but if we all suddenly stopped listening to bands who had assholes in them, how small would our list of “approved” bands be? Well, you can forget about listening to the Beatles, whether solo or as a group. Captain Beefheart is out. So is Miles Davis, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Frank Zappa, etc., etc., etc. And I’m not going to stop listening to those bands. Ever. I understand completely wanting to relate to the artists whose work you enjoy on a personal level. I am the same way.

He also offers up his thoughts on the controversial, “culturally-appropriating” headdress that started it all and why he stood up for the Native American community:

I have always had a strong belief in equality and that people should be judged solely on their character and not by the color of their skin or how many dollars they have in the bank. But I was uneducated and unaware of the extent of a lot of things. For example, when I was taught in school about the white man coming over to this country and the genocide of the Natives, it was really glossed over. And the genocide was never truly taught. It was, “some Indians got killed because they were encroaching on the white man’s land, but the brave white man fought them and won and that’s why we have freedom and television.” So I never truly understood the extent of it. And it’s been a long learning process of seeing how deeply racism and sexism go and how deeply if affects billions of people.

Read the full statement (which has since been deleted off Facebook) below:

Good morning/afternoon/evening, friends and “friends”!
I just wanted to thank everybody for their support this last week or so as this whole soap opera has been made public. I do truly appreciate it more than I could ever put into words. It’s all really weird to me. I’m not used to this kind of spotlight (and honestly feel ill suited to it). And to all the people that have written me that I haven’t written back, I promise I will. Soon. But I also wanted to address some things that I have seen in all of this that I am uncomfortable with and some feelings I have surrounding all of it.

First off, I’ve read many people who have called me “brave” for releasing my “statement” to the public. There could not be a less accurate word than brave to describe what I did. I never intended for this stuff to be made public. But local press in Oklahoma City started picking up on it a little over a week ago and it was bubbling and gurgling from there. I reached out to a friend of mine who is an entertainment lawyer to advise me because I’m not used to dealing with this kind of stuff. He initially told me to just sit back and it would run its course. On Thursday, Gawker picked up on it and he advised me, at that point, that there was a 50/50 chance a more mainstream source might pick it up, but as it was all hearsay and conjecture at that point, it was hard to say. But he told me I should prepare a statement just in case. So, knowing I tend to ramble and phrase things in weird ways sometimes, I wrote a bunch of stuff Thursday night when I got home from the Temples show. My friend guessed that, if the story did go mainstream, it wouldn’t have been until the beginning of this week at the earliest. So I figured I had all weekend to pick and poke at it and hone it down to something concise that said exactly what I wanted it to. Well, Friday afternoon rolls around and I’m sitting in my bedroom in my pajamas mixing a song and my phone starts beeping like crazy. I look at it and I’m getting several texts and I keep seeing the word “Pitchfork”. So, I go check Pitchfork and there’s the big headline, “Kliph Scurlock Accuses Wayne Coyne Of Racism”, which is untrue. I never have and never will accuse Wayne of racism because I know he’s not racist. And racism can kill careers. Just look at that NBA dude from last week. So, I freaked and put my unfinished, unedited “statement” up here on Facebook and sent it to Pitchfork. There were a lot of things that I would have taken out because I know how things get blown up and sensationalized and several things I would have clarified better and so on and so forth, but didn’t feel I had a chance to before Pitchfork grabbed ahold of the story and I reacted. So, again, it was the exact opposite of bravery.

Second, some of the reactions I’ve seen to this over the weekend have been scary to me. I’ve been told that Wayne has gotten legitimate death threats over this which I just simply can’t get my head around and absolutely don’t condone. Even if he is racist (which I will go to the grave maintaining he isn’t), threatening someone’s life over it just doesn’t seem like a valid response on any level. And I’ve seen a bunch of people saying that they’re done with the Flaming Lips and will never buy another record or concert ticket. That to me is sad. I’m not done with that band. I will be buying the next record and surely the record after that and the record after that and so on. And I’m sure I will love them. And I will continue to love and cherish the previous records. And I want to see them live. The Flaming Lips put on an amazing live show. That’s one of the reasons I fell so hard for them in the 1990s. But it’s everyone’s personal choice. I appreciate people taking a stand against something they see as wrong (which is something I do all the time), but if we all suddenly stopped listening to bands who had assholes in them, how small would our list of “approved” bands be? Well, you can forget about listening to the Beatles, whether solo or as a group. Captain Beefheart is out. So is Miles Davis, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Frank Zappa, etc., etc., etc. And I’m not going to stop listening to those bands. Ever. I understand completely wanting to relate to the artists whose work you enjoy on a personal level. I am the same way. I can’t begin to tell you how thrilling it was to me when I first started roadieing for the Lips and got to know the guys and found we had much in common and looked at a lot of things in the same way. It made my connection to their music deeper. But it’s not necessary. I’ve never met a single member of the Beatles or the Rolling Stones and their music resonates with me as deeply as any music ever could. I’ve never met Miles Davis, but his trumpet playing at the end of “Great Expectations” brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it. And so on.

Third, a lot of people have referred to me as a hero in the last week or so and, while I appreciate it greatly, nothing could be further from the truth. I am quite simply a deeply flawed guy who is learning every day and trying to be the best human being I can be. I’m no hero. You likely don’t care, but my mother was killed when I was 8, which left some deep scars I’m still working on healing. I lived with my dad, who was a policeman, from that time until I was 18. He was very, very, very overprotective (which I understand now, but resented for a long time. As a policeman, you only interact with horrible situations. You never get called to give a toast at a wedding; you only get called to deal with something unpleasant. And having had some children in my life who I’ve felt very, very close to, I understand wanting to protect them from how painfully horrible this world can be sometimes.) So, anyway….I left home at age 18 and moved to Lawrence, Kansas a guy who wouldn’t let anyone very close and someone who didn’t know how to do basic shit for himself – like laundry, for instance. But I figured it out. I have always had a strong belief in equality and that people should be judged solely on their character and not by the color of their skin or how many dollars they have in the bank. But I was uneducated and unaware of the extent of a lot of things. For example, when I was taught in school about the white man coming over to this country and the genocide of the Natives, it was really glossed over. And the genocide was never truly taught. It was, “some Indians got killed because they were encroaching on the white man’s land, but the brave white man fought them and won and that’s why we have freedom and television.” So I never truly understood the extent of it. And it’s been a long learning process of seeing how deeply racism and sexism go and how deeply if affects billions of people. You have to remember I am a white male who lives in Kansas. When I was younger, I got made fun of sometimes because of my tattoos and piercings and weird hairdos and felt that that made me one of the oppressed. (Oh, if I could go back and slap my 18-year-old self and tell him a thing or two….) So, like I said, being born with white privilege (it’s a real thing), but being unaware of it, I was also ignorant to just how deeply it goes in our society and how deep the scars are for people who don’t have white privilege and who have to constantly look over their shoulders because of the color of their skin. And I’m still learning all the time. I have a pretty sarcastic sense of humor and, up until a few years ago, thought it was funny to occasionally tell racist jokes or “fag” jokes or whatever to my friends for the shock value. I figured, “hey, they know me and know where my heart’s at, so what does it matter?” I’ve only relatively recently figured out how much it matters and have stopped it. And I’m still learning how very much it matters. The same goes for the treatment the Native Americans have gotten over time. Their story goes mostly untold and I never went out of my way to search it out until relatively recently. And there’s still a lot I don’t know. But I want to learn. And I’m certain that it’ll shape my world view and my behaviors when I do learn and understand it. Like I mentioned before, I have a lot of deep scars related to my upbringing and my mother being killed. I was a completely closed off individual for a long time. Sure, I had friends and I had great times with them, but I never let anybody close. The first time was when I got talked into babysitting for a friend of mine. I didn’t want to babysit this little girl. But my friend’s maternity leave was up and she didn’t have anyone else who could watch her, so I agreed to do it for a few days initially, but fell head over heels in love with this little girl and that ended up being my “job” for about 18 months. After that, I slowly let a few others get close and realized, “hey, deep friendship is where it’s at.” And, though I now have a lot of people I consider close to me, it’s still something I struggle with. It gets easier every day, but some scars run really deep, you know? Anyway….I’m rambling, but the main point of this is that I don’t consider myself any sort of hero or anybody to be held up as someone who has all the answers or who should be an example for anyone. Like I said, I have walls I put up, even sometimes to people I care about. I deal with a lot of panic and anxiety issues and when those flare up, I feel defensive and up go those walls. I am also fairly introverted and when I get overwhelmed with social stimuli, yep…walls again. That’s not right and I know it and am working on correcting it. I’ve gotten a lot better, but I still struggle. I also still oftentimes cover up sincerity with sarcasm. I went and saw a really awesome band called Paper Buffalo the other night. I was blown away by them and went up to a couple of them later and, rather than just complimenting them, told them, “hey, you guys put out a lot of sound.” The mother of one of the people in the band is a friend of mine and I found out later that I hurt their feelings. Why didn’t I just go up and say, “hey, you guys were awesome?” Because I’m a sarcastic fuck. And I oftentimes expect that people will understand my sense of “humor”. But I do learn from the times I hurt other people. And I do my best to correct my behavior accordingly. And such is my journey of life. Again, I am definitely no hero. I’m just a dude who is trying to figure it all out and seem to be doing it slowly.

The last week or so since the story started being leaked publicly through the time where it broke into the mainstream (at least as far as music is concerned) through to today has been an eye-opening and humbling one. I’ve learned many things. One thing I’ve learned is that a lot of the press, despite whatever words you actually say, will grab onto the most sensationalistic bits of a story and twist and distort it until the actual facts are lost or hidden. (Which goes hand in hand with the story of the treatment of Native Americans at the hands of the settlers.) Despite my “statement” trying to clarify that Wayne is absolutely not a racist and his actions that people are perceiving as racist actions were not done to be racist, but rather to jab at me, I still saw several headlines over the weekend that claimed I was accusing him of racism. Look, if I thought he was racist, I would say so. But I know that dude really, really well and I can say in no uncertain terms that he is absolutely NOT a racist. He’s a lot like me in that he doesn’t understand the depths of a lot of things. Because we, as a nation, do not understand. I’m certain he didn’t know what cultural appropriation is or how it affects people. And maybe he still doesn’t completely understand. I didn’t until relatively recently. (I’m almost 41, so relatively recently can be several years.) Anyway…..so, again, in all caps this time because it’s true – WAYNE COYNE IS NOT A RACIST. And I can say that because I know him. And I wouldn’t say it if it weren’t true because above all else, I value truth, no matter how shitty it is. I’ve also gained a lot of perspective in the last several days about Wayne as a human being and myself as a human being. Watching Wayne get piled on and receive death threats has really freaked me out. We’ve butted heads over the years and he’s done and said several things to me that I found unwarranted and borderline despicable and I thought I would enjoy watching him get his feet held to the fire when this stuff blew up. But I haven’t. At all. And it’s caused me to do a lot of deep thinking. And I see that I wasn’t the perfect soldier in the band I painted myself to be (and thought I was.) There were lots of things I wasn’t the least bit interested in – the Lipsha record, the Stone Roses cover album, the Sgt. Pepper cover album, working with Miley Cyrus, etc. – that I would just simply skate out of and not participate in. I operated under the delusion that it didn’t matter (and it ultimately didn’t. Those records got made or are getting made whether I’m around or not), but I can see how it might look to the other guys in the band and how it might cast doubts on my ultimate allegiance to said band. And, if that’s what they were or are thinking, they’re correct. While I did cast aside my personal feelings about working on the song with Kesha for the Heady Fwends album and worked on it as hard as I could, I didn’t do a single fucking thing on any of the songs earmarked for the Lipsha album. And I’m now of a mind to find that inexcusable. As far as the Flaming Lips are concerned, you’re either all in or you’re all out. And that’s an attitude I admire and part of what was so appealing to me when I joined that band in the first place. I have deluded myself over the past couple of years into thinking I was all in when I wasn’t. I thought I could participate when it was something I was interested in and go off and do other things when it was something I wasn’t. And that’s a bullshit attitude. And I’m ashamed that I’m only now realizing it. I’ve thought a lot about my time with that band in the month and a half since I was fired and I can’t believe I operated under the delusion of, “everything was great and then all of a sudden Wayne flipped out and fired me because I called a friend of his a spoiled rich wannabe-hipster socialite cunt” (at least that’s what I said to the best of my memory. And you can see why I thought that was overly harsh and deleted it.) But I was blinded by my love for the band and thought that was enough. And I thought I was completely in the right and that I had been done wrong by Wayne. And there’s part of me that still thinks that. I don’t know for certain what has been going on in his mind and I wish we were both bigger adults and could have had conversations about it. Like I said, I thought everything was peachy keen and then out of the blue – bam! Out! Sorry, I’m rambling again….. I’m not sure exactly what my whole point is, but even if the perception I had was completely true and Wayne fired me because he lost his temper over me insulting one of his friends, so what? It absolutely devastated me for a short time and I would have done anything to have changed it and been back in. But ultimately, it’s his choice. And that’s a big part of why I never wanted to go public with the whole thing in the first place. Because who cares? Do I have a right to be in that band? No. I was let in because I was wanted and/or needed and I was let go when that was no longer the case. Whatever the reason was behind it ultimately doesn’t matter. I’m going to be fine and so are they. And, honestly, the scene in that band was really unhealthy for me the last few years and I’m a much happier, relaxed person for the most part now that I’m away from it. Yes, I did (and do) absolutely love that band and a good majority of the things we/they did/do. And, yes, that band was the means by which I paid my rent and bills for 12 years and there is a big part of me that’s stressed out as to where my next paycheck is going to come from. I’m also well aware of the fact that I’m nearly 41, which makes me less desirable to other bands that might be looking for a drummer. Because making music for a living is what I want to continue to do. I love music above all else (even, sad as it is, people sometimes) and I am wired in the way that I get bored sitting in one place for too long and I love traveling and, on days where my anxiety isn’t acting up, I love meeting people. So a “career” in music is ideal to me. And I don’t know if I’ll have that again. But the most important thing is the music itself and I have a lot of friends who are musicians who have expressed interest in making music with me. So nothing will ever stop me from doing that. And I have enough money saved up to survive for 4-6 months, so I don’t need to figure anything out right this second. I don’t have an extravagant lifestyle, so I can live pretty cheaply. I rent a house with 2 wonderful roommates and my rent is $500 a month. And I don’t consider myself “above” working a “straight” job; I (like every other person on this planet) would just much rather get paid to do something I love. And I’m sure you don’t care about any of this (and there’s no reason you should.) Like the thing I posted the other day, this began as something quick and short and has turned into an overly long rambling whatever. And, like the thing I posted the other day, I likely should edit it for content and for length. But I have spent the last several days primarily at my computer answering messages on here and watching this whole thing blow up and get distorted and I don’t want to do that today. It is a beautiful day in Lawrence, Kansas and I want to get out in it and enjoy it. And I’m hungry, so I want to go get some lunch.

In closing, I do wish once more to sincerely thank everybody from the absolute bottom of my heart for the love and support I’ve been shown. But please don’t make me out to be something I’m not. And please don’t make Wayne (or the other guys in the band) out to be something he and they are not. After all, we’re just humans, some of us with wives and children.

Your friend,

Kliph “TL;DR” Scurlock
7 May 2014

2 comments

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Dave johnson
June 7, 2014 at 8:24 pm

A petition requesting Festival promoters to kindly request their attendees refrain from wearing Head Dresses at their events.

https://www.change.org/petitions/festival-promoters-request-festival-attendees-from-wearing-native-american-head-dresses-at-festivals-they-promote

Sarah
May 13, 2014 at 4:57 pm

kliph posted this after the media posted his first statement and before Wayne gave the terrible interview to Rolling Stone . Because Kliph is a class act and self aware.

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