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What does it feel like to cruise around in the big hamster ball?
The first couple times that I did it, I worried that I was gonna get killed. Once I realized that I wasn't gonna get killed, now I really worry more about the audience because sometimes it's a very — well, not violent, but there's a big crowd of people trying to push each other and shove each other. We don't want that. We want it to be a lot of fun. I try to make it like I'm just trying to walk on top of you, but sometimes it's just not possible to keep people from going a little bit crazy. I'm mostly worried that there are some small women at the front, and this big kind of avalanche of people can overwhelm them. So I don't worry about myself anymore. It is a lot of fun, and you can really see how people are excited by it, even though they've seen pictures of it forever. They're just excited maybe to see it in real life, and all that junk. I think people wonder if I'm ever gonna get sick of doing the bubble. I'm just glad that people like it. I do worry about the audience, though.
I've heard your live shows described almost religiously, with all of the extra visual components that you bring to each show. What do you aim or hope for at these performances, as far as the whole package coming together?
You have to remember that we've been doing shows for a long, long time. Next year is the 30th year that the Flaming Lips have been together. We've always done, you know, a show — something that's a happening. I think we've always felt conscious about this thing of performing. We just like a happening — we're mostly doing it to entertain ourselves. That's what a lot of art does: You just kind of do your thing and hope people like it. We can always tell that it's having an effect, you know. We do a lot of different things, and the things that don't work, you change. And the things that do work, you try to make them better.
What we're trying to do for the most part is have your complete attention. Whenever you go to anything with a large group of people where they're all paying attention to the same thing, it is, in a sense, a powerful vortex of energy, having everybody experiencing the same thing at the same time. That's really what we're trying to do. When we play a big outdoor festival, luckily we're able to bring laser beams and other things so that even a great distance back, you can still get the magic. Maybe it's not the exact same message as if you were standing onstage with us, but it's a pretty good resemblance of this message that we're putting out because it's just pure, big, and it's bright, and you can see it from a ways away. It's difficult to communicate if people aren't engaged. You just want their full attention.