Wayne Coyne Of The Flaming Lips Talks ‘Yoshimi’ Musical
Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips has spoken about abandoned plans for Aaron Sorkin to write a musical based on the band’s hit album, Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots.
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Back in 2007, five years after the album’s release, it was announced that Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots would be adapted as a musical by Tony-winning director Des McAnuff and Oscar/Emmy/Golden Globe-winning playwright, screenwriter, and The West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin.
“Back then, it would’ve been a CD that [McAnuff] was putting in his car [stereo],” Coyne told Yahoo Entertainment. “So, this album is playing through these months, and you know, music and driving and circumstances and all that can really make you hear things in the music. So, he had a great idea.” McAnuff envisioned the titular Japanese warrior character battling cancer cells, represented by the Pink Robots. But according to Coyne, Sorkin had other ideas — which led to a different sort of battle.
“The Aaron Sorkin part is… I mean, I don’t remember it all that precisely, but we did a meeting. We were in New York City — I think we were going to be on The David Letterman Show or something — and in the afternoon we were going to meet with some potential writers,” Coyne recalls. “And one of them was Aaron, which was like, ‘Oh, of course Des knows him!’ But at the same time, there was a strike on Broadway that day, which meant all their theaters were shut down. I think it was something in the union that didn’t let anything play on Broadway. And of course, that’s millions of dollars leaving; that’s people out of work. And in Aaron’s case, that’s a big deal. He had two or three [shows] that were shut down that day, and Des as well had two or three that were shutting down that day. So, they had a lot of stuff on their minds. And here’s my little record, and they’re talking about what it could be! We were only allowed to meet for probably 20 minutes or something.
“You’ve got to remember, this is… not that long after the World Trade Center planes, the 9/11 stuff, all happened, and we were still dealing with George Bush Jr., who was the president,” Coyne continues. “And Aaron wanted to make it about that. He saw the ‘Pink Robots’ as being the evil George Bush empire. And I really don’t know why I was so opinionated, but I just said, ‘Oh, I don’t really like that idea.’ Not that I had a better idea, but I just didn’t see this music as being connected to politics and stuff, you know? I mean, I felt like Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots is going to last forever, but George Bush will be gone in a couple of years, so who cares? But I think [Aaron] was like, ‘Oh, so you’re going to say no to my idea?’ I mean, he wasn’t mean, there was nothing bad said, but I just got the feeling that he was like, ‘Well, that’s the way I see it. And if you don’t see it that way, see you later!’”