Thursday, July 07, 2005

The Fearless Freaks

For the longest time, I thought the Flaming Lips were a goofy little band with noisy rock songs. It wasn't until I saw them in concert on the Soft Bulletin tour that I understood that they weren't just some goofy little band with noisy songs.

Lyrics like "And if God hears all my questions/well how come there's never an answer?" and "Love is the greatest thing our hearts can know/but the hole that it leaves in its absence can make you feel so low" really struck me. In a time when random bits of words and ideas were pieced together and presented as deep poetry, this was deeper to me.

Prior to the Lips taking stage for their Soft Bulletin show, there was a 15-minute montage of footage from a forthcoming documentary called The Fearless Freaks. There was no word as to when the full documentary would be released, but whenever it did, I had to see it.

Well, The Fearless Freaks was released on DVD earlier this year and I placed it on my Netflix queue. After months of its availability being listed as "Long Wait" (which is rare for Netflix), I just went to Frys over the weekend and bought it.

After seeing the whole documentary, I highly recommend it for casual and hardcore Lips fans. The overall tone is rather light-hearted but serious. Contrary to other things I've read about it, The Fearless Freaks is not a congratulatory love-fest. It's a very honest and demystifying look, but it's a whole lot of fun. Wayne Coyne proves to be an engaging storyteller while his bandmates, friends and family add plenty of worthwhile stuff.

In every review I've read, there is a mention of the scene where Steven Drozd takes heroin. While I could only watch half of the scene without getting quesy, I have to be honest: I'm glad this scene is in the film. Instead of glamourizing drug use, Drozd speaks honestly about being an addict. He mentions the somewhat good feeling he gets when he's high but he also mentions all sorts of terrible things that have happened to him because of it. Seeing someone be so honest about drugs was such a nice alternate to the usual hindsight-filled/black and white look back at the days of "sex, drugs and rock and roll." (On a nice note, the film also covers Drozd getting clean and turning his life around)

Anyway, this documentary serves as a primer for Jim DeRogatis's forthcoming biography on the band, Staring at Sound, which should be in stores in February 2006. Very much worth your time if you want to know more about these guys.

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