The Flaming Lips‘ Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots is a classic, immersive record, so it wasn’t that big of a surprise when in 2007 it was announced that it would be adapted as a musical. It was set to be directed by Des McAnuff and Aaron Sorkin, they revealed at the time. The project, however, never came to life.
In a new interview with Yahoo!, Flaming Lips bandleader Wayne Coyne opened up about what went wrong. He explains that Sorkin wanted the “Pink Robots” to symbolize “the evil George Bush empire,” and that the aftermath of 9/11 got in the way of the concept.
It’s a long story, so read Coyne’s full explanation below.
“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. 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. 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!’”