From NME interview with Wayne Coyne, May 1999 (conducted by John Mulvey)
In 1989, touring to support the release of their third album, 'Telepathic Surgery', the Flaming Lips fell in with Jonathan Donahue, a young student who booked gigs for the university in Buffalo. 'We're a lot alike' reckons Wayne Coyne 'I'm not a drug-addled, self-destructive megalomaniac, though...I have a little megalo, but no maniac. But I think initially he liked us because we did things ourselves, we weren't helpless rock stars.
'He wanted to quit school' Coyne recalls that first meeting 'so he went on the road with us. A sort of road manager. He pretended he was the soundman. We'd be playing these dismal clubs - to ten people - and he'd get onstage and pick up a guitar. If there were more than twenty people in the audience, he would hide behind an amp.'
By the time the Flaming Lips went in to the studio again, Donahue cemented the new four-piece line-up. They also found a new and important ally in the shape of producer Dave Fridmann. And at the same time The Flaming Lips recorded 'In a priest driven ambulance' - still Wayne's favourite Lips LP - Donahue, Fridmann and a bunch of their college mates were recording their own songs (some of which would become 'Yerself Is Steam'). ''Frittering' and some of that stuff, we all did together. There are old tapes, they would do one of their songs and then we would do one of ours. We always knew Jonathan was pursuing his own thing, so we never thought that he would sign up and we'd all live happily ever after. It was good, though, the infusion of his ideas and experiences'.
It lasted for another album, too, as Donahue played on the follow-up 'Hit To Death In The Future Head', the Lips major label debut. The sessions for that album were strange and often unproductive, but Donahue took the chance to do more recording of his own. 'He did 'Carwash Hair' and something else then. Him and Dave Fridmann, at least three or four nights, doing acid and mixing. It (that incarnation of the Flaming Lips) was disintegrating even then. And when Jonathan put out 'Yerself Is Steam' and we thought it would be followed by more obscurity and more failure. But when things started to happen, he quit to concentrate on his own band. I think we got over it even on the evening he left - so much of him wasn't there anyway'.