The Flaming Lips, as of late are finally receiving global attention as one of most inspired, enduring, and imaginative bands ever. But, as lead singer Wayne Coyne explains exclusively to PETA, they’re really just a bunch of animal-lovin’ Okies.

peta2: When did you first realize you cared about animals?

Coyne: I’ve cared about animals my whole life—when I was 7, my brothers and some friends and I were the Frog Patrol. I grew up in Oklahoma, where, during summer nights, frogs would wander en masse onto the roads and get run over by cars. We’d stay up ’til 4 a.m. scooping them out of the street so they wouldn’t get squished.

peta2: Do you have any companion animals at home?

Coyne: Well, right now there’s an incredible hummingbird on my porch! All my life, we’ve taken in as many as we could care for. Of all the places I’ve ever been, it seems like Oklahoma City has the most stray dogs. Right now, we have Maxwell, Ted, Sad Sack, and Dragon Dog. I found the Dragon Dog while I was jogging. At first, I thought he was dead in the street, in a pile of leaves. He was covered in scabs. Then he moved and jumped up, so I took him home. I built a fortress for him in the backyard, thinking he’d last just a few months—and that was years ago. He’s added such joy to our lives.

peta2: Why do you think animal rights has become such a huge issue today, especially among young’uns?

Wayne Coyne and friendsCoyne: When you’re 16 and see these hideous pictures of animal suffering, it’s hard to walk away. People like that it’s radical. You could go into a slaughterhouse anywhere and it’s brutal. In New York City, I saw a truck full of gasping fish on ice; the shock stays with you—just because you don’t see the suffering doesn’t mean it’s not happening. But when you go to the store and it’s all packaged up, you don’t deal with that. The connection gets lost between food and animals. That said, the way society works, you have to tolerate certain things or you go crazy. Everybody makes a personal choice to be vegetarian or not wear leather. I’ve gone back and forth, but like most people I aspire to be better. I’m not that radical, but I’m glad some people are—to drive the debate and keep the issues being discussed.

peta2: What animal issues concern you most?

Coyne: In our community, we try to make a difference and support the local shelter. It’s your own experience that changes you. I live in a fucking neighborhood where they have pit-bull fights. I go break up neighbors’ pit-bull fights. It just shows how shallow people are.

peta2: When did your start to share the stage with people dancing around in animal costumes?

Coyne: A friend came to a show on LSD dressed as a giant rabbit and it’s all people talked about, and we responded. Nobody can resist. It’s like a big birthday party. Plus, having the animals on stage resonates with our philosophy of loving animals.

peta2: Any closing thoughts?

Coyne: There may be horrible things going on in the world, but there are lots of great things happening, too. The fact that Flaming Lips can win a Grammy and PETA can be so popular means some things are going right!