Flaming Lips singer responds to accusations of racism
by Mark Teo
May 6, 2014
Accusations of racism—or at least cultural appropriation—have dominated the headlines last week. Avril Lavigne’s god-awful “Hello Kitty” received most of the scorn, but arguably, a more incisive story developed around Flaming Lips leader Wayne Coyne. This time, the accusations of racism didn’t come from media types, though—it came from his former drummer, Kliph Scurlock.
Scurlock left the Flaming Lips last March, after playing with the band for nearly 15 years. Both parties had remained silent over the issue, until Scurlock finally opened up last week. And it wasn’t pretty.
According to the drummer, the story began when Scurlock criticized a friend of Coyne’s, Pink Pony leader Christina Fallin, who posted a photo of herself wearing a Native American headdress—an item that, among Plains nations, is earned. Here’s the image Fallin posted.
It was a clear-cut case of cultural appropriation, and Fallin, after receiving accusations of racism, issued a non-apology: “Forgive us if we innocently adorn ourselves in your beautiful things.”
Scurlock took issue with the non-apology—he felt that, likely, Fallin wasn’t innocent, nor was the statement sufficient. “She responded with a very insincere non-apology, which I also found disgusting. I have several Native American friends who were very hurt by her combination of actions and I am nothing if not protective of my loved ones,” he wrote to Pitchfork. “I am also a big proponent of Native rights and one of the greatest tragedies in the history of humankind has been the treatment of the Natives by the white settlers, which continues to this day.”
Scurlock, he says, took to Facebook to express his displeasure at Fallin’s response on her personal page. And this is where Coyne steps in: Across a series of text messages, he flipped out at his former drummer. “You so full of shit,” Coyne allegedly wrote. “You’re a fucking coward !! Go stick up for your Indian friends if its so important to you !!”
Then, later:”I am gonna make it so your ‘beliefs’ no longer have any association with the Flaming Lips ..”
And that’s exactly what happened. Kliph parted ways with the band. But, Kliph alleges, the bad behaviour didn’t stop: After Pink Pony were met with protestors at an Oklahoma concert—where they performed a fake war dance—Coyne openly mocked the Native supporters. Further, he posted this since-deleted photo to Instagram, making light of Fallin’s headdress.
Yes, that’s a dog in headdress. And the Instagram photo, says Scurlock, was the final straw: He went to Pitchfork accusing Coyne of racism.
The Flaming Lips, meanwhile, have remained silent—until now. “Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by Love, this is the eternal rule,” he posted. Then, he posted this photo.
Flaming Lips member Steven Drozd also followed up with this tweet, saying the story had
So, what do you think? Is Coyne taking these allegations too lightly, or is Kliph bitter about his dimsissal from the Flaming Lips?