Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne is well aware that the group’s latest all-original studio album, “Embryonic,” is a risk for the band.

“Embryonic” represents a notable turn for the Lips toward more of a free-form, psychedelic sound that is anything but concisely crafted and easily digestible. Coyne said even he and his bandmates weren’t sure what to make of the music they were creating as the CD came together.

“I think we were scared as well,” Coyne said during a recent phone interview. “Like, you know, there’s not really a hook in there, but I like it anyway. There would be times when we would be baffled by it. We couldn’t really say why we liked it, because it didn’t fall into the categories we would normally create for our songs.

“So we kind of felt we were either losing our minds or we were gaining a new piece of our minds, and we don’t know which one to trust.”

It turns out that the latter won out. “Embryonic” hit No. 8 on the Billboard 200 upon its October release. Now fans can hear tracks from the CD in the Flaming Lips’ live show, which is a joyous spectacle filled not only with music, but confetti, balloons and various other hijinks.

Following a triumphant set at the Bonnaroo Festival in Tennessee last month (in which they played Pink Floyd’s masterpiece “The Dark Side of the Moon”), the Lips come to Maine this weekend to headline Saturday’s shows at the Nateva Music & Camping Festival in Oxford.

Coyne said the group will employ many of the familiar stunts of recent tours and play plenty of fan favorites while weaving in some material from “Embryonic.”

“In the beginning, we thought (this album) would be weird to play live, but it’s not,” Coyne said. “I mean, our audience can easily go from something as silly as ‘Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots’ to something that’s heavy on the new record.”

The fact that Coyne and his main songwriting collaborator, multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd, were willing to follow their musical intuition, not knowing if it would take them to new heights or send them tumbling into the abyss, says a lot about the creative ethos they bring to the Lips, which also includes bassist/keyboardist Michael Ivins and touring drummer Kliph Scurlock.

“On some level, you have to just do what you like,” Coyne said. “If a band like us, if we’re not able to just follow that gut instinct and do what we like, what group would? It’s easy to put people like Lady Gaga or Justin Timberlake (together) and say they’re trying to make safe, commercial music. But they’re trying to, and we’re not.

“If we can’t get lost and turn into some other monster in the middle of the night, then who can?”


Alan Sculley is a freelance writer.