Christmas In July For Flaming Lips

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

The world of music has received an unorthodox Christmas present this summer from the indie-pop band Flaming Lips. The strange part is not that Christmas has come in the middle of the summer, but rather it’s the band’s characteristic concoction of oddities found in their film Christmas on Mars, which they have been screening at music festivals all summer.

The world of music has received an unorthodox Christmas present this summer from the indie-pop band Flaming Lips. The strange part is not that Christmas has come in the middle of the summer, but rather it’s the band’s characteristic concoction of oddities found in their film Christmas on Mars, which they have been screening at music festivals all summer.

Christmas on Mars has been a seven-year work-in-progress for the band, which they started filming on the cheap in their hometown of Oklahoma City in 2001. The story portrays the struggle of a group of colonists on Mars experiencing their first holiday season on the Red Planet. Band member Steven Drozd plays Major Sytris, who is trying to boost holiday morale by putting on a Christmas pageant. But bad things keep going wrong in the colony, putting a damper on festivities. Flaming Lips front man Wayne Coyne plays the friendly green Martian that comes to the colony’s rescue. Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock and Saturday Night Live’s Fred Armisen also make appearances. Needless to say, this is a one of a kind Christmas flick.

The film premiered in May at the Sasquatch Festival in Washington State and has been played at several festivals where The Flaming Lips were booked to perform. Coyne told Billboard that they have been screening the film as a “midnight movie” so as to have as much silence as possible after other acts have packed up for the evening. Coyne admitted the late night showings attract those “in for the long haul”, a.k.a. the night owl, Red Bull and hallucinogens crowd. Many moviegoers don’t know whether they are getting into a Stanley Kubrick-esque space age thriller or something akin to How The Grinch Stole Christmas. “At first I didn’t know if they felt they needed to be more respectful, like it’s an art movie”, says Coyne. “I don’t think people have any idea what the film is. Is this funny? Is this serious? Is this weird? Once people understand it’s all that, I think it’s a great relief.”

The concert screenings are just a practice run for the film before Santa goes interplanetary sometime before the end of the year when Warner Bros. releases the DVD. The band composed a score for the film, which will be included on the DVD, but it hasn’t been decided whether it will be released independently of the DVD. To see a trailer for the Christmas on Mars, click below.

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