Earlier this month, The Flaming Lips fired longtime drummer Kliph Scurlock after a 12-year stint with the band. Scurlock alleged he was dismissed after publicly criticizing Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin’s daughter Christina Fallin, a friend of frontman Wayne Coyne, for wearing a “cultural-appropriating” Native American headdress.
Scurlock also accused Coyne of verbal abuse, threats of physical abuse, racism, and even alleged that Coyne encouraged him to start a Twitter beef with The Black Keys. Coyne initially responded to Scurlock with a series of not-so-subtle tweets, including one which read: “Fools take a knife and stab people in the back. The wise take a knife, cut the cord, and set themselves free from the fools.”
Now, Coyne has offered a more detailed account of the circumstances that led to Scurlock’s firing in an interview with Rolling Stone. “The only thing that we would have to say about Kliph leaving is that he just was not very significant to us,” Coyne began. “And all the things he’s saying about the reason he was fired, it’s all just made-up lies. He knows we struggled with him for years and it didn’t occur to us that it seemed that significant. I don’t even use the word ‘fired.’ He just doesn’t play drums with us anymore – that’s the way I’d put it.
As time went on, he got to be a lazier and more close-minded musician. We didn’t ever really do that much with him. I mean, we would play shows, but he’s not creative. We never wrote songs together. He was a guy that we thought was, I guess, good enough technically that could do stuff in performance. But we know a lot of musicians, so it was not that big of a deal.
Anybody who knows him knows what kind of a hateful person he is. I mean, anybody that looks at his stuff could see that most of the bands that we would play with, he despised them. To their face, he would say, ‘You guys were great’ and then 20 minutes later he’d get online and say, ‘These people are a bunch of fakes. They suck.’ That would be almost every band we ever played with. The more that time went on, people would pay more attention to him because of his connection to the Flaming Lips.
The reason that it’s connected to the Fallin thing, it’s like, ‘If you’re going to be that hateful, you can’t be associated with the Flaming Lips.’ And that was one of a thousand things that he would go on his Twitter or Instagram or the fake ones that he’s created. That’s what he would do all the time. We would play a show with some bands and the next day, he would say how stupid they are and how much they suck. But after the Christina thing, people brought it to my attention, and it’s like, ‘Dude, he says bad shit about all of our friends.’
Coyne also accused Scurlock of referring to Fallin as a “cunt”.
In regards to allegations that he was verbally abusive to Scurlock, Coyne responded:
I think if he doesn’t use the Flaming Lips name and my name, no one will listen to him. I mean, the Flaming Lips as an entity mostly act through me. I was the one that hired him when we were rehearsing with Beck and needed a drummer. I hired him, so of course I fired him. But him saying I’m verbally abusive? It’s a joke. Anybody that knows him knows what a hateful pathological liar he is. I don’t have to defend anything that Kliph says. The only reason he knows anything about Native American issues is he’s trying to join this group that I think their family is Native American. But I don’t even want to speak about the hate, you know. I don’t have any hate for him.
Still, Coyne expressed remorse for posting Fallin’s headdress photo. “I would say that I’m very sorry, to anybody that is following my Instagram or my Twitter, if I offended anybody of any religion, any race, any belief system. I would say you shouldn’t follow my tweets; you shouldn’t even probably want to be a Flaming Lips fan because we don’t really have any agenda. We go about doing things through our imagination. And I would say that if we wrongly stepped on anybody’s sacredness, then we’re sorry about that. That was never our intention.”
Rolling Stone also asked Coyne about other recent criticism leveled against the band, specifically pointing to their left-field collaborations with Miley Cyrus and Ke$ha, as well as Coyne’s “pattern of eratic behavior,” such as when he brought a grenade to an airport and posted an unedited music video featuring Erykah Badu without her consent.
I think it’s people speaking about situations that they don’t know anything about. I do a lot of stuff, and I don’t always ask everybody if it’s politically correct. If you want to talk to Erykah Badu, I think she’ll laugh about it now. I think all that was, in a sense, a publicity fight. I still talk to her. Jim DeRogatis, this writer that actually wrote a book about us, went on a rant about how much he hates us now. I guess it has something to do with the way that I’ve become more famous, or whatever.
But if I really am all those things, how can I have these guys in my group? Wouldn’t everybody leave? But people like crazy stories. It’s a much better story that I’m a drug addict, that I’m abusing all these privileges I have as a rich white person. That’s a great story. It’s not true. It’s all just exaggerated. I’m sure a lot of the things that we do, to conservative people, probably think, ‘Oh man, they’re crazy people on drugs.’ It’s like, well, we’re not! The truth of that is just too boring to even worry about. I’ve been doing my thing, working hard, doing music, you know.
As for Scurlock’s replacement, Coyne said the band is considering the route of Radiohead and using two drummers:
Well, there’s two guys. I think we’re going to use two different guys. Who is the guy that plays with Radiohead and Portishead? [Clive Deamer] He’s great, and we met him at a couple of festivals last summer. And I like the way that they were using two people to do the slightly electronic stuff versus the real rock stuff, and we were trying to go that way. We were thinking of it anyway, and then this thing that happened, there are two guys here who want to be part of this thing. I think it’ll be a great addition to this cool group of weirdos that we take around with us, and they’re guys that we know right from here. I think it will be really exciting and the Flaming Lips will be better than ever.