Inside The Flaming Lips' O Music Awards World Record Attempt (Exclusive Preview)
Taking their cue from The Who's Magic Bus, The Flaming Lips will tonight embark on a whirlwind 24-hour tour, playing eight cities throughout the Mississippi Delta in an attempt to shatter Jay-Z's Guinness World Record.
The stunt is part of Viacom's third installment of the O Music Awards, celebrating all aspects of digital music culture. The live-streamed event continues a tradition of breaking records, following Chiddy Bang's longest freestyle rap and the longest team dance marathon during its first two shows. This time around, The Flaming Lips will take a shot at playing the most live shows in a 24 hour period.
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"We started to learn the audience was very attracted to the idea where you didn't know what was going to happen next. A lot of media is pre-packaged today, and I think they were just enamored that, wow, anything could happen," explains Rick Krim, EVP, Music and Talent Strategy and Programming for VH1.
"Our thought this time was how do we make it feel bigger, actually make the record an integral part of the show," Krim adds. "And one crazy brainstorming session led to a 24-hour bus ride."
"It seemed absurd, mostly," says frontman Wayne Coyne of the concept. "I like the idea of folks traveling with us caravanning to each stop through the night, and I'm hoping that some of the craziness of being there will actually come through online."
Another goal of the company was to branch off from the MTV label that is so often tied to the OMAs as a whole. After Coyne and his band accepted the challenge, Viacom then sought out supporting acts for each tour stop that would represent each of its networks: MTV, VH1, CMT and Logo.
"We worked with the Lips a lot on this," says Krim of selecting the bands. "It was a combination of acts they had relationships with and acts that [our networks] had relationships with… It'd be easy to get cool, young, indie, alternative bands, because that's the land the Lips generally live in, but we wanted to have country represented and rock and blues and electronic music."
"I don't think we ran into anybody who didn't want to do it. Just to be part of this, it's such a crazy idea, and people like being associated with the Flaming Lips," he adds.
Among those making the cut were Jackson Browne, Neon Trees, Karmin, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, Gary Clark Jr., Hunter Hayes, GIVERS, Neon Indian, Grimes and New Fumes, who will put on their own shows in each of the respective cities. For their part, the Lips are required to perform for at least 15 minutes in each venue. They will perform approximately three songs at each stop, including at least one collaboration.
"At virtually every stop we are attempting to play a song we've never played before," says Coyne. " Lots of work has gone into making this a special journey."
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Lest we forget, the O Music Awards are first and foremost -- an awards show. Among this year's nominees: Rihanna, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Nicki Minaj, Taylor Swift, Tanlines, Radiohead and Adam Lambert in categories such as Best Artist With a Cameraphone, Best Online Concert Experience, Digital Genius Award and Fan Army FTW.
"We wanted to reinvent the creative of how you give out awards," says Dermot McCormack, EVP, Viacom Music and Logo Group Digital. "Giving out an award on a bus moving through the Mississippi in real time -- that's kind of innovative. I don't think it takes away from the award, I think it adds some magic around it."
If there's one thing OMA viewers have come to expect from the previous two cycles, it's the unexpected. And Wednesday's endeavor should prove no different.
"Wayne is going to bring a lot of his own creative that we don't even know about right now," confesses McCormack. "The producer part of me is scared, and the fan part of me is excited. Wayne is not the type of guy who would show up and go, 'OK, give me the script, I'm just going to read off.' We expect him to just bring a lot of stuff and know the way art is work. He's going to want to surprise us, so that's when I'm going to have to be on my toes in the directing."
Jackass star Chris Pontius will also be at the center of the action, riding along in the tour bus with the Lips. His duties: keep the energy high and "do what he does," says McCormack.
"He's another individual who brings the unexpected," McCormack explains of the former MTV personality. "Our job is to get firewood, to get kindling, matches and invite pyromaniacs over. We liked the idea of what Chris could bring to the party. It's almost like the rodeo clown, the court jester, someone who can just keep the leading man, Wayne, activated and energized."
The multi-platform event will be available live via MTV, VH1 and CMT screens, with the central hub at OMusicAwards.com, where fans can vote, engage in social media and toggle between various camera angles. The clock starts ticking at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT.
Below, watch an exclusive first look at the show's introduction video.
Email: Sophie.Schillaci@thr.com; Twitter: @SophieSchillaci