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Flaming Lips respond to drummer's allegations of abuse and racism

Flaming Lips respond to drummer's allegations of abuse and racism © AP/ Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips Flaming Lips respond to drummer's allegations of abuse and racism

By Miriam Coleman
Rolling Stone

Intrigue surrounding the split between the Flaming Lips and longtime drummer Kliph Scurlock surfaced last week week as Scurlock accused frontman Wayne Coyne of abusive behavior and said he was fired for calling out a friend of Coyne's for what he perceived were racist actions.

The Flaming Lips revealed in March that Scurlock, who had played with them since 2002, was no longer a member of the band. On Friday, Scurlock sent a statement to Pitchfork with his account of the split, referring to "endless verbal (with threats of physical) abuse from Wayne" and attributing his dismissal to an incident involving Coyne's friend Christina Fallin, singer of the band Pink Pony and daughter of Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin.

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In early March, Fallin posted an Instagram photo of herself wearing a Native American headdress. After drawing an angry public response for what some felt was an insensitive appropriation of Native American imagery, Fallin apologized by saying "Forgive us if we innocently adorn ourselves in your beautiful things." Scurlock felt the apology was insufficient and attacked Fallin on a mutual friend's Facebook page. "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," Scurlock explained to Pitchfork, while admitting that he improperly brought Fallin's mother's politics into his attack.

According to Scurlock, Fallin complained to Coyne about Scurlock's comments, and Coyne berated Scurlock for his behavior over a series of text messages. "You lost your mind dude…. that is some petty, sad, hater [expletive]. You love to talk [expletive]…. Like a punk coward… " Coyne said, according to Scurlock. After Scurlock apologized and said he wouldn’t repeat the behavior, Scurlock said Coyne called him a coward and told him to "Go stick up for your Indian friends if its so important to you" and that "I think….. I am gonna make it so your 'beliefs' no longer have any association with the Flaming Lips .."

Scurlock said that he had refrained from commenting on his dismissal until recently, when Coyne became involved in the escalating controversy over Fallin, and others disclosed to the press the reason behind Scurlock's firing.

As Billboard reports, Coyne seemed to be expressing support for Fallin in late March with a (since deleted) Instagram post of three friends and a dog wearing a feather headdress. The caption read "then we @zacharyancox @sarahbarthel @katyweaver @ shaunwhite and @mayorb all did our best @christinafallin pose … And then … #partyintheusa."

Coyne was also in attendance during Pink Pony's controversial performance at Oklahoma's Norman Music Festival on April 26, where the band reportedly performed a "fake war dance" and mocked Native American protestors. According to Gawker, Coyne joined Fallin and her band in ridiculing the protesters.

After Pitchfork published Scurlock's account on Friday, Coyne posted a note on Twitter that appeared to be a response. "Fools take a knife and stab people in the back. The wise take a knife, cut the cord, and set themselves free from the fools." He also posted a photo of a bottle of Buddha's Brew Kombucha displaying the quote, "Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by Love, this is the eternal rule."

Flaming Lips multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd sent out a more direct response: "This Lips/Kliph [expletive] has gone too far. We parted ways because of the usual band musical differences. The rest has been blown way out."

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