If you’re a fan of the Flaming Lips, then you already know him.
The operatic background vocals and life-changing drum fills on record; the man behind the curtain to Wayne Coyne’s floating wizard head; the caped gentleman stage right, playing a hundred instruments in ways the average human could never figure out how to do. Those are all Steven Drozd, the Lips’ resident prodigy and multi-instrumentalist.
Drozd is tentatively stepping into the figurative limelight with Electric Wurms, a tangential, proggy, sinister offshoot of the Lips.
Electric Wurms is, sort of, the prog-rock little brother of the Flaming Lips, featuring Drozd on lead vocals and guitar and Wayne Coyne on bass. The duo, for future shows, will be joined onstage by Nashville, Tenn., band Linear Downfall.
Electric Wurms’ debut, “Musik, Die Shwer Zu Twerk” — that is, “Music that is hard to twerk to,” loosely — comes out on Warner Bros. Records on Tuesday, and the group has tentative European club dates planned.
Drozd is indisputedly, as a Warner Bros. rep said to me during a pre-interview phone call, “a genius.” He’s also funny and polite, and his dream karaoke song is “Gypsy” by Fleetwood Mac, as I found out when I chatted with Drozd for a few minutes last week to get the scoop on how the Wurms came to be in the midst of all the Lips chaos.
Q: Where did the material for this band come from?
Steven Drozd: Probably two years ago, Wayne and I had a “what if” conversation: What if someone did this or did that, did this kind of music or was this kind of band? That turned into, “Oh, we should do that,” so we started this sort of side project ... the two of us and some other people playing a type of music that doesn’t necessarily have to be Lips music.
We started recording a while back, and then everything was put on hold, since we go through phases where the Lips are just too busy to do anything. It was like that for a while.
So, yeah, it started as a “what if,” and I’m usually satisfied with just saying, “That would be cool if someone did do that,” and forgetting about it, but Wayne, of course, said, “We have to do it.” It just went from there.
Q: When you’re writing or recording something, do you have the end game for that piece of music in mind? Do you think about what the release might be, or just what you’re doing right in that moment?
Drozd: It depends on what it is. Some things, as soon as I start on them, I have an expectation that it’ll do this or do that. Other things I just enjoy working on in that moment.
Right now, I’ve got this song I’ve had for a little while, and I was hoping Miley Cyrus could record it with (the Lips). As soon as I came up with the chords and this melody, that was in my mind.