They Might Be Giants: "I Like Fun" | Talks at Google

They Might Be Giants:

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Impatiently. I waited, to, refill. My prescription and. Count. The time. Of. The drugstore. A. Prototype. Facing. Combat, my affliction. Extra. Gravity. To. Control. Me. But. That's my farm. And. I. Like. And. So, do you. So. Do you. By excellence. At our coal is. Not to, be discounted, as, I leave. Wrench, is. My. Excellence, at Parker. Might. Be. Unexpected, at, the age of 58. It. Comes. As quite a surprise. But. Not to, you. And. Now everyone again let's welcome to Google, John Linnell and John flans very they might be giants. So. I saw, that music video for the first time this morning it was fantastic. And, it's got me thinking I'm curious a little bit about when you are working, on a music video or you want a music video for a song what's the collaboration, process like for you and the director. Do you send them a song and sort of give them free range is that the back and forth it's normally that I mean we get the best results it seems like we we gather from. People. Who are uncontrollable. And. Even, for this stuff we've done for kids it's, just we've gotten, spectacularly, great results when the people get. To do whatever they want and they are. Bringing all this stuff to this song that was. Not you. Know in. Our minds whatsoever, just like utterly you know stuff that makes our jaws hit the floor that's, always a great treat. For us cuz normally. You know we're really used to what we're doing and our ideas are completely. You. Know familiar, to us by the time we've we've ironed them into a product. So it's a it's a really wonderful, treat, when somebody makes a video yeah. It's awesome and, so this year you're doing another, dialo. Song new, song released, every week online and. All then we're gonna have a music video attached to it as well and you did this previously in 2015. Yeah so. To, me it sounds like releasing 52 songs in one year is just this grueling, the batterer process, yeah yeah, so what made you I want to return to it again in 2017. For a second second go. I. Can't. Remember it, doesn't like it does seem like a bad idea. The. Truth is. It's, we, started, the, the sort of the the origin. Story of the band has really wrapped up in this dial song service that we had that was just a phone machine and.

That. Was a lot easier than the 52 songs in the year. Because. We the, sort of the three-card, Monte trick of that was that we had a suitcase. Full, of 40. Cassettes and we, would just shuffle. Them around and some things would be in, order to end we, would bring in new songs take out the the really miserably, bad ones and. You. Know if, we went away on tour my landlady would come in and change them and and. It was so it was it was it was it. Was manageable. This. Thing is a little bit more, the. The 2015. Dial, song project. Was was, a little, bit more about facing, the way the. World kind of takes in music, now I mean social media, is the is, discovery. For. A lot of people like they don't the only way they find out about things is through, Facebook, or Twitter or Instagram, or whatever so, if you're not kind. Of feeding. That. Manic. Beast all the time, you're. You're really just talking to, your. Your, front row like you just aren't going to ultimately. I guess you know we are always on a quest to, find. More. People to be interested in what we're doing I mean we've been you. Know the. We've, been doing this for so long that like. We have to we have to find we. Need more people yeah. And, so your strategy sort, of has been adapting. Over the over the years of your career to new ways to find that new audience yeah I mean by put saying being able to say like on, Facebook on a when any given Wednesday like here's a new song that seems like a much more interesting. Way. Of sort of you. Know keeping. Keeping, it, going mm-hmm, so one of the reasons that I have been sharing a few of the songs that have come out have, been previews for the new album I like fun and. They, have if you listen the lyrical content kind of sounded anything, but being about fun, yeah. It's pretty stark contrast. So. Just, because it's the world that we live in and it's an, album that must have come together in 2017. Was, that in any part, influencing. The tone I mean you've always been writing music that has some darker tones but has the world of 2017, it all influenced, what became I like fun I think you know in a general way but I mean they're not they're not specifically, topical, songs they're there and there's, a lot of death imagery, which is not.

Particularly. Topical, it's an you know any, old time is good for us. Yeah, it's it's I mean one things that does sort of come out ultimately, when you stack up a big pile of songs did you realize how, much you're, in the zeitgeist, like, we I don't think you sit down and write a song thinking about like I'm gonna I'm gonna write something about right now but. When we do I remember you know at the height of the the sort of the the, the Bush, era we, made it we made a record that, an album that sounded, extremely. You. Know. Dystopian. For. Lack of a less. Political. Word sure. So, this this is kind of an unfair question because it's like saying where do your ideas come, from but after. Know we've got answers okay, great well I was gonna say after you know 20 albums how do you is the, zeitgeist or where the places where you keep drawing inspiration, for songs especially since the range of they might be giants so. In content tends to be a little bit wider than your standard it's it's right at the bottom of a cup of coffee I. Mean. That is that is you. Know we are we are truly, addicted, to caffeine. And. And. It. Is it is I don't I don't know there, isn't an answer I mean we that's the in a way if there were I think we'd be pretty. Bored with ourselves if, we had a if we had a. Calculus. For writing. Songs I. Think, it would be pretty obvious that, that's what we're doing and it would be we'd, be disappointed, in ourselves but we you, know we're really I, mean the job, gets harder over here we are really casting, around all, the time for, something. New. And, meaningful you. Know to, say in a song and that doesn't mean you, know I mean. I they're not these sort of I suppose. It's it sounds wrong. To say they're like these deeply personal, statements, that were saying something about but. But. They are, they. They are meaningful. And they and we want to have an idea that's the point of this song is to have a good idea and. Put it out there and have it be fresh and and not, obviously, not repeat ourselves I think the thing about, what we're doing is at this point it's really obvious, to our. Audience, or. To, anyone who hears one of our songs, who's familiar with us it's obvious it's us it's like clearly this is what the. Kind of thing we do but, we're, we're. Very scrupulous. Ly, trying to write a new thing, each each, time and, you know there's no really simple way to do that there's no you. Know there's. No formula. Sadly, at. Some point we realized we were running out of nouns.

And. We. Sort of gave ourselves permission to to, like use. The. Same noun 2 games. Moving. On to adverbs right, so I guess when you're putting your together for the I like fun tours that's something you're thinking about is how the, new material is gonna fit with the old material how sort of everything sure yeah, well then I mean the tour, is the beautiful, part for us because we have, 30. Years of backlog, so we we have a huge, amount, of stuff to choose from and that's that's. The easy part we've got so many songs we, can just make up I'm not it's Flensburg jobs and I'm not trying to say it's an easy job but yeah. He, does have an enormous backlog. Of material, it's a huge responsibility it's, a big response the, weight the weight on John shoulders, is, unbearable. I know that. But. But. We but it's nice for us I think that we have so many songs that we can play songs that we haven't played in you, know a decade and. It. Feels, it's very fresh and fun to pull out something that's, from. Long ago that we there were, you. Know I don't remember having this idea but it's it's some it's sort of exciting to experience, it again you know yeah like on this on this tour we're doing a song we we, just got a trumpet, player full. Time in the band for the whole touring, Act we've worked with more players in New York but it's expensive to like have a whole horn section come out to you with you so we, figured out like we can we, can clear. Out the junk bunk in the in the bus and and, get a trumpet, player in there and, it. Allows us to do a bunch of songs that are very you. Know have brass, in it so it sort of opens up a whole other kind. Of song. Arrangement that we haven't. Had before and. Like. We're doing a song called hey mr. DJ I thought you said we had a deal that was like a b-side. To don't let's start and. You. Know for I mean obviously for the people in. The audience is there's like a front row and a back row and there's you know the very different concept and they're people have been like dragged there by their friends, who are just only so interested. In what you're doing but it is it is exciting, to. Be able to pull. Out a song, like that and, have people in the front really go like well, you know rather than just, have it be like marching, out with your you. Know old, favorites, sure, so, it sounds like it's almost this new phase of the band where there's this whole catalog to draw from I'm, curious how that like differs from when you were first touring or first starting it yeah and. I'd especially be interested like in New York since you are you know highly. Associated with in New York music scene right really a lot different now from the 1980s. Well the 90 days was a really, unusual. Time. Especially, in New York because we came up in this, moment. Where. There were a tremendous number of like gatekeepers, like. Protecting. The things that. Made, a lot of money like you we were very aware that like, superstar. Acts were trying, to. Hold on to their market share very very hard so even just breaking into like the local club scene was. Was very there was a lot of like folded. Arms and a lot of people saying no and it was and, it was very hard to get past that like the it's, I think it's in. 2017-2018, it's almost impossible to understand, how, democratized. Culture. Has become because of the Internet and like people just. Have to like it and it will suddenly become very popular there, were so many people in the way of anyone, even having any idea, of what you were doing and, then.

Like, You couldn't even get a gig in a, club unless you fit into the idea, of that club so. I mean. Were the guys and they might be giants like what club do, we work at right right you know like there is no there but you know but fortunately, there, was this little sort of cultural bubble in the East Village. Which was this very transgressive. Very, druggie, scene, but. They also but the thing the main thing about the East Village scene that was kind of fascinating this is like 1984, 85 86, the, clubs were called like the, pyramid Club 8 BC to Rinka places that most people have never heard of but, they were an incredible, phenomenon at the time and this. Is at a time when the New York Times and. The. New Yorker would not cover shows below 14th, Street. No. Reviews, of anything, happening, unless. It was at the Village Gate so. We were so you're basically talking about like this extraordinary, period of of sort, of siloed, off culture, so, this bohemian New, York scene was happening, and their. Emphasis and was very clear from club ordinate club owner that, they only were interested, in original. Acts so. It was suddenly like instead of being in some, college town where like the, guys like well. I don't you do blondie, songs it. You know all of a sudden we were in the situation, where our originality, could, really be. Shine and and was really emphasized right I mean the other thing the, weird, thing about that situation was we were playing clubs that weren't music clubs they were performance. Art clubs so we were like the normal, thing that was being brought in ya know like, you. Know just, to play some songs in between some unspeakably. Weird, possible. To describe. It. Was it's. Hard to imagine a time when performance. Art was like the new thing that was happening mm-hm you know because, it really is indescribable. I mean I think Daryl. Hannah and legal eagles is the only actual cultural, document, of performance. Art that I that. Made it through so, now in sort of this democratized. Era where, does that how do you fit into that as a more established, act but with the very special, we. Are a brand you. Know unto ourselves now. In which we can't kind. Of that's just what that's the way it is now so I think we're. Completely, there also in a different position from a band that's starting out now where I don't, know how you I don't know how you establish yourself at this point like we we we, just. We're. We. Are managing to, gather. Garner, new younger, people. But we also have this fan base so you, know there's a kind of inertia to it that we that, we enjoy. It's. It's I wouldn't know how what advice would you give to the I don't know. Save, yourself. I. Don't. Know you know I was doing, it you know we just started doing interviews again because we're doing this this thing this album, and in. Tour and someone was asking me if we, considered, ourselves a cult band and I realized I don't even know if that's actually. I'm. So value-neutral, on the idea of what a cup in like make is that really good or is that really bad right what, should I answer yeah sure. You like if, it's good yeah. Sure. We're a cult band I mean I think you know anything that's been around for, a long time has an established audience and. The. The. Only problem that that. We have it's like you, know we. Know. I. I. Always. Felt like you know like we're just another, thing, in, the world like we don't have to be the center of your life I think people, tend to think of like a bands. That are left, of center as as. Somehow. Like these like, as. Called, scissors right I guess I mean I think I feel, like I would, prefer not to be thought of as a cult I think yeah to. Me the obvious distinction. To us in a cult band is that we. Don't represent a lifestyle, I hope you, know because, that would be right, would be weird I mean this sweater represents, a life yeah. But. That was my personal, lifestyle, choice Stanley, Kubrick's personal yes exactly exactly, but. I was. Gonna say like you know like there. Was a time there was a time in the. Somewhere. In the 90s, where I, could. See our we were playing some some, big, festival, II kind of show and there.

Were Two people two, men in, the in the near, front row of the audience and one, guy was wearing a Pearl Jam shirt and the other guy was wearing a Pearl Jam shirt. And. Over. The course you know we. Were doing a set we were very familiar with so my mind. Had time to wander and, I realized at. Certain point one guy was actually wearing the, shirt. Ironically. And. The, other guy wasn't. And. I sort of felt like you know that's kind, of a good place to be in the culture like that is the scope of the world, right. Dudes who wear Pearl Jam shirts, for. All of, all kinds like a, diversity, move. Right. We, had some interesting chats, earlier about technology, since we are here at Google and you know we, have the self-driving car and everything and I. Was, looking. Right. I was looking I thought my car was self drying, on. The they, might be Jan's wiki I was looking up earlier just some of them different. Ways that you've used the internet over the course of your career as a way to distribute music so, in 1999, you released an album only, on the internet back when that was still like a bold newsworthy, move, in. 2003. You had a They Might Be Giants streaming, internet radio. Service, mm-hmm, he started podcasting in, 2005. Long before cereal, or any. Of that took off so, I'm, curious what music. Distribution technologies, you're interested, in today. That in like six or seven years everyone's, just gonna think oh this is ready to do right cd-rom, I think we're very, excited background. Yeah yeah it's coming back man don't get about laser, discs, now um we. Actually see, the roms are the only emerging. Technology, that we completely skipped over I, think. Because. We were right. At the point of our deal. With Elektra we realized that like this. Could. Be our royalty, or. Sanji base yeah it was just like if we don't want to be the R&D department for. Warner. Brothers but um but. I, think. We're pretty agnostic, about emerging. Technology, that's that you know if there's, something coming. Up it's. Really, a way to have, people hear. Us, it's just another, way to get access to another audience like like you. Know in the past couple of months I've been actively like working on Spotify. Playlists, and you. Know sometimes it's you need to sort of think you're like talking to yourself but like then you realize like oh you know hey this has got like 250. People are subscribing to, this. And that means they're passing it along to X number more people and you just if you're open to it it's like it's available to you you, know I mean I think the internet thing, was. Something you. Know being be. Doing, music distribution so early, on in the Internet I think. Really. Made us aware, of what, a lost opportunity. The. Early. Internet what like it was so the whole Napster, moment, was, was such a missed, opportunity, like. There, was so much money being made in the music business without the internet, that they that they just were, really it was that they were at you, know at loggerheads about, how, to do it but it. Was obvious that it was gonna be the way that things were gonna go but but, nobody in. The tall. Buildings, wanted to hear, about it do. You have ways that you prefer. To listen to your music streaming. Vinyl. Or. Ways that you think people should be listening to they might be giants the mystery of silence. I'm. Pretty dumb because I I listen I often, listen on my laptop and it's like the worst absolutely. The worst way to reproduce music John, listens to mixes of they might be giants on his, line on my laptop that's, true drives, me today saying you said me I did listen to on speak I know well. Because you asked me I know. But. Yeah. It's. I think in a way it's actually it's. Probably not an accident because I've. And, you know this I've always had a kind of a. Slightly. Ouchie feeling. About the super high and the super lows that were introduced, sometime in the 1980s, where. I like before that I felt like the bandwidth when sound reproduction became. Unbearably. Good and, before that there was a kind of a narrower range narrower, bandwidth, to, music and I felt like it, was in the right proportion. To my relationship. With music and now, it's like these super, super, tingly eyes and super crazy I mean I feel like such an old man saying, this but but. It's. Too much it's like actually Bob Dylan said something to that he was like there's just too much sound. And you can't hear this song anymore. And. When you're agreeing with Bob Dylan you know you're an out man, yeah. Audiophile. Stuff. Perfect. Um so in a few minutes we're gonna open up to questions from the room we have two microphones if, people are interested in queuing up while. People are moving I do have another question that I'm very curious about.

Spongebob. The music yeah, so. The. The score, for that is many artists contributing different songs yes one is contributed, by the two of you the New Yorkers so that it was the standout, track from, the show alongside like John Legend and Cyndi Lauper and those. Are the facts, yes. How. Did the two of you get involved in that we were approached by them which, was great and we. Were I think we, were given the choice of two. Possible. Subjects, we. Picked the Squidward. Solo. Song and they just, took. Exactly, the demo and pretty, much verbatim. And, I would like to take, credit for the whole amazing. Success, but I think they, had the idea of having. The. Squid. Do. A tap dance with, all four legs which is you, have to see it in person it's. It's. Insane it looks crazy and that wasn't that wasn't us and, that's part that's a big part of why the song. Just blows, everyone away I think yeah, they turned it into an enormous production, numbers yes yeah it's it was, nice to sort of see well you know, our. Thing get amplified, them yeah. That's super cool so. We have a question over, here Yello hi, asking, for a friend what some good advice to be excellent, at Parker. Asking. For a friend I like yeah I like that. You. Know I mean this. You, know this the song is is very much about a, fantasy. I thought you wrote it about me I know, it I'm, 57 I'm 58 so. I think it's I think it's about me I think the question is addressed to me okay please. Please. I'm Cal soot drink a lot of milk I'm answer I'm answer phone I'm answering for a friend. Yes. You, know shoulder, pads I don't know I've, never done it I have no idea. How. Do people, do parkour, is my question because it's like it, is that when you see best, of parkour. 2017. It's just like being, inside a dream. Also. How do you film parkour. Like. You where's. That guy. We. We. Can just leave those questions, as. An exercise, for the listener I. Wanted. To follow up on the Spongebob. So. You. Were Terran, was asking you about different. What's the best what's, the best medium to listen to your music on and I. Feel like a generation, younger than me learned, about they might be giants through malcolm in the middle' and that. Theme song and, now people are learning through Broadway, I'm, curious what you think about that and if you have any stories about failed, opportunities. Or, like songs you've written that have the, the, sitcom has been like no that definitely doesn't work, well, I do how, brutally honest should we be go, for it we wrote. A whole, raft of songs for the movie Coraline, which, only some, of which have ever seen the light of day and I, think, 30 seconds, of which were actually in well 30, seconds for which were in the movie and then there's another song that we released yeah on an album called, careful. What you pack and. But we wrote a ton of other songs. And. I. Feel. Very it was, kind of a bittersweet, experience because, I think, part of it was we. Were. Very you, know we, were just producing. All this material, and and and, throwing it to. The director. Henry Selick and he's, he's extremely, true-blue, in his, creative. Process, and, I'm not just saying that to be nice like I really respect, the guy but, he basically felt, like this. Whole bunch of things that we've given him we're not gonna work in his vision and there. Just wasn't a way. To make, it work and it was it was upsetting. And sad for us but. It's. Just the thing about collaborating. You know it's just that's what happens sometimes and and movies are such a by, committee, kind of like it's it's easier for people to say you know prove. Their value. By saying no to something than then. Actually producing, something so it's a weird it. Was a weird kind of spanking tunnel of an experience, but. Um but. You know it's interesting like, the malcolm. In the middle' stuff I feel like I. I. Never know you.

Know There was a period of time where like at 11 o'clock there, was like a rerun. Of, the. Mickey Mouse show, The. Daily Show and, Malcolm. In the Middle and like you know I would just be like changing, the channels going wow. Like. We are we are completely dominating. This this. Medium. Of television but, at the same time there's such faceless, jobs I don't think anybody, like, with the daily show are. They. Are could the credit ran once a week on the, Friday when it's going you. Know really fast you know like, that's the only time you would ever see our name associated, with the show so it's it's. Kind of an invisible it's it's interesting to, do faceless, stuff I mean we did four, years we did music, for diet, dr. pepper and, we. Did music for, Dunkin. Donuts, for like, four years and, it was a super fun job, and nobody. Knew it was us which was that. Dunkin, one, it was we were basically, hired to do us you know so the people who were already familiar. With us could probably identify it, my wife heard, a commercial, and was like oh I know she well, I'm I would help your wife she she she, at least identify this. But, yeah we we we've. We. Were partly, influenced. I think by stuff, that we saw on TV where we don't. Not until you, know 20. Years later found out who wrote, the, whatever. Mission Impossible theme or something you know so it's. A it is a kind of work that you can do I think where you you you're not gonna get credit but you get the satisfaction of of doing a good job and, you can explain yourself to taxi drivers before right, exactly. Or, your mother's friends. Just. Out of curiosity how many people here knew that they might be giants to the theme music for the Daily Show. No. One you know raising their hands, you mean you guys didn't, like put. It into slow-mo on the Friday. All. Right first of all are you guys aware that we wrote the that. Theme. That when your phone rings that's. Awesome. Daily, shall. I. Phone ring, yes. But, I find you guys to be very witty and. In. Contrast to your songs, which are a bit dark. Yes. Well they're witty is well they're just dark waiting yeah, so. But. You, know I I don't have a musical, here but my friend does and I wonder if you can write a line anything, that occurs in your mind and sign, it for me this is allowed. When. We stick around afterwards, I have, to go for an interview. I'll. Make it I'll make a little drunk for you. Katie. With. That see you okay. Okay. Ie. Okay. I'm gonna make a little. Man. Who, else, has got a question cuz I can do this right, we can go let's go over to this, other Mike can have a question first. I was, texted by an old friend today. He. Said hey. Guess. What I'm gonna make you feel old flood, was released 28 years, ago today oh I heard about that it's like. Today. January, yeah. Yeah. They, they they, release the records they don't believe in in January. It. Was really meaningful to my friends to, my friend and I so. That was an interesting moment, but. I wanted, to ask about listening, to music on, laptops. Yes because I. Read. Something about dialo song where he said that, forcing, to be audible and sensible, through a phone that is that, is I mean that dovetails, into yeah. What we're talking about because we I think, it influenced, we've probably said this in the past it influenced, our writing, style that the. The. Dial a song machine, was the most restrictive. In terms of bandwidth. And there were even sounds.

You Couldn't make in. The song because they would trigger the automatic rewind, of, the machine so, it's a very you. Know is a very, very good good, discipline. If there's a long sustained, note it would basically make, it reject, so we would even get into doing a thing that's sort of like almost like a DJ. Thing of if, it was like you, know like I want, to know it'd be like I want to know, because. That, would that would allow. It to keep on yeah, working. That's just the the the the, in order for the lyrics. To be audible and this is another thing that we've we've always been kind. Of, uptight. About making sure you. Can hear the words, rather, than have it be sort of a you. Know. Sort. Of what, did he say a vibe a vibe right. This was another thing about the docile the, arrangement. Couldn't be too fussy and because we automatically. Like doing fussy arrangements we had to reel that in so, it's it's had a huge influence on the way that we write ever since then and. I, think we're still we still feel like simple it's simple words better speakers, doing the same thing these, are in the laptop speaker yeah I mean well and like I said I just. Like sort, of a, controlled. Amount of bandwidth when I'm listening so I think that's it, gets all of a piece this yes whole this. Whole aesthetic, is kind of connect, I mean the opposite, that's happening with most people is that there's on earbuds. And that's that can be a very full frequency write experience that's you know much. More than you. Know high fives ever were. Thank. You. Um. What. I started. Listening to you guys when I was growing up in a place that didn't get much alternative, anything and it. Was awesome in freeing and like opened, my mind to this whole underground. Alternative. Not. What everyone else was listening to in doing world and okay hey thank you so much and you changed, my life and made it and be. Um you're, still involved with a lot of experimental. And cutting edge and and. Not, mainstream or not yet mainstream people, and acts and artists. How, do you find those people to collaborate with and and like and where, do you get your influences. From, well. I can answer I mean in terms of the the video, collaboration. Process it's. Very it is very curatorial. I mean some. A lot of times will. Simply. Ask people we've worked with before if they know of anybody so it is it sort of spreads out that way and. We. Also do, these we do video contests. Which is a strange, it's. A strange, thing in. The culture. Because you know when you post a contest, you, immediately get responses, from sort, of angry or artists. Who are like artists, should be paid for their work and, you. Know these contests, are just ways, of ripping artists off and I'm very sensitive to that idea in in. A way but, unfortunately, I'm, like too busy writing for a Ford commercial, for free. To to. Worry, so, much about because it is it is like the horrible, it is part of being in the creative community that. Like the audition, never stops and that is it, is absolutely, frustrating, it never stops being frustrating, and I completely understand people, being upset, about it but the truth is through, these contests, we find, tons, of people that we end up working, with them and we actually the, current contest that we have going there are three winners so, and. We'll. Probably make, other videos with all you know with all three of them because it'll just whatever, they do probably, be very. Interesting, and cool stuff and it's just a way for us to find more. I mean we got 52 weeks to program so. It's. Funny because I realized I forgot to mention that many years ago actually was a winner that They Might Be Giants video. Which. Won for, Omaha. Omaha, venues. Oh right, right yeah, but are you are, you from Omaha I'm not I'm from ah sorry. But. We did end up collaborating eventually. That's. Great. Yeah. Um. I, actually have a question from a friend who introduced me to you guys when, I was very. Little he's. Been listening to you for his whole life so he's curious about your, song a soft call know where if, the, lyric goes it's, a thing named it at the bottomless pit or, it's a thing named it at the bottomless pit yeah it's psychological I can answer that in a word it's the it's it it's, which, rhymes with pit of course and. We. We, haven't been playing, that song for. The last 20. 20, years I would say 20 years we will be playing it on our next tour we're just we're, just right, it's. Just by coincidence we are pulling, that one out and we're gonna be we're gonna be playing out and we'll be announcing it, that's, right I'll be I'll, be very, clear, and my. Pronunciation. He. Just ended like 40, vitriolic. Internet, conversations. Yeah. For, decades or was it it maybe I. Thought. I thought everyone here had a non-disclosure, thing.

Right, So. You. Guys talked a bit about, liking. To be on the bleeding edge of technology and using new technologies, I'm wondering if there's any new, technologies, you've seen or heard of sort of floating around now that you haven't, gotten to take advantage of yet that you'd like to I. Don't. Think we've used the word bleeding edge actually, yeah. That's, tougher, than we are yeah we're we're more like just on the near the edge. I'm. Getting hurt. This. This is this is this, is gonna sound incredibly, spaced out because it's a really spaced, out idea, but, I was having a conversation with a Pete, in our office about this yesterday, we have you, know like a lot of people who do Kickstarter, campaigns, or do you know being, in. The arts these days requires, a lot of sort. Of, they're. A lot of patronage schemes that people do and and, we started. To thing a few years back called. The instant fan club or basically we had been in, the studio for six, months longer than we were planning on we hadn't been on the road, we, didn't we just were completely broke and we actually had to, pay a lot of bills so we, thought let's do some kind of presale for this record even, though it's not going to be out for three or four months in at least we won't be broke right now so, we started this thing called the instant, fan club and pre-sold. 5,000. Records and promised, a bunch of other stuff and made their really good value for the people who joined it and ever. Since then we've periodically. Had these instant, fan club things and. It'll. Be like, just. Really good deals like you know it's like it's a bundled, thing you get like it's, $200, worth of stuff for a hundred bucks or whatever and, a. Lot of times there's music exclusives, in there and I. Was, trying to figure out like in in in, Britain you do, not have to give permission to. Have your recordings. Play you you have to grant. Permission have your recordings played on the radio like it is not compulsory. That, if you put a record. In tour recording, into the world that, the radio gets to play you there's this still. This moment, of sort of like um almost, fine art possession. Like this, this this thing exists, and only, the artists themselves can, determine where it goes and, I was wondering, is. There in this is really like on the cutting edge of like intellectual, property question.

Would. There be a, way to not. Publish, your music but simply, create. A disc, or create a unique, piece, of, reproduced. Music, like, a CD. I mean I think of the. What. Was that thing that the the creepy, farm, pharma dude who. Tanks I, mean I was wondering like is the would is that are those compositions, at, BMI. I don't I would assume not, but. But like they, sold it like a piece of fine art rather than a piece of commercial. Art and I'm, wondering like could. We actually pull, out of the, commercial marketplace and create. Just, fine art music for, our. You. Know our our, benefactors. For oligarchs. Yes. And. Does, anybody here know that farmer, dude. Yeah. Anyway. That's that's that's those are my racing thoughts mm-hmm. That's. A horrible new trend. The. Pharma dude thing just. The yeah the idea that everything is for rich people, well. It doesn't I'm not saying it should be for rich people I'm just saying it'll, be interesting to just. Not have it be something. That immediately, goes. To. You. Know I love, the streaming services, but. I'm telling you the checks it's, killing us yeah. Hello. It's interesting, to, hear, that your early early, performances. Were in these performance art clubs in the East Village because. Your early shows, also, had definitely, the concerts had definitely an aspect of performance art to them sure like the huge hats his megaphone yeah, and the. Sets were pretty, bizarre, for, concerts. At that time we were flashed to do that. How. Much of that was that influenced, how much it, seemed that that sort of dropped, out of your. Concert, structure, more. Recently, not at least your concerts aren't as don't. Feel. As much like bizarre, performance art as they, did in the early days it. Was intentional, how, it evolved, with the music evolving well we evolved I mean we you know we worked as a duo for 10 years and over the course of that time they. Were sort of like you know some some, like prop stuff moved into the act and, I. Mean. I think the the probably, the the the biggest. Difference. Between what. We were doing and what like a regular rock, band was doing is that we were working with a drum machine so, we. In some ways like the the, props might have sort of been giving like compensating. On a theatrical level, for what was kind of missing, by. Having a exciting. Live drummer to watch I mean, the thing, that's that, I reflect. On back then is how committed, we were to the idea of the drum machine like for, a lot of people I realize. Now like working, with a drum machine is a complete. Like like. Wrong. Answer, like. That can't be that's never gonna be good but. At the time I think we really felt like you know we are just rocking so hard, you. Know and this drum machine is, so excellent. It. Wasn't a compliment it was not it did not feel like a compromise whole rhythm section, one ad song, sort of captured that exactly, reminding, me like I think our very earliest, shows before, we did started, doing these East Village performance. Places. We were playing and showcase e clubs. Trying to be like we played at CBGB, as, a showcase band, and we were totally, using the props and stuff oh yeah, yeah so it wasn't it, wasn't because it was more like we we found another place where we'd fit in basically, it was how, we ended up in the East Village thing, but. We stopped using them when. It. Became, something. That people expected, basically, like when you're in if it's the first time you've seen a band and they do this thing that's got this really weird theatrical, thing to it it's. Like that's interesting but. As soon as it's like oh bring, out the thing and it becomes this this, sort of Rocky, Horror Picture John.

It Was just like and and that really happened the second, time we toured the United States and we, really just like suddenly we became this like Straight No Chaser like. Two. Guys drum machine that's all you're getting right say, the catchphrase, right, yeah. Yeah. Play number three again yeah exactly. Thank. You thank you do you feel like that's something you're you're actively fighting against like the mythos. Traditions. Of they might be giants is something on your mind and then oh I think we in some ways we want, to keep the spirit, alive the. Original, you, know we've we're, always trying to get back to the the impulse. That, we. Started, with with this, but. As John said we don't want to keep using the same vocabulary over, and over there. Is a weird thing about how bands kind of turn on themselves in, terms of like if something is successful for them they're like you, know they do that's the only thing they don't want to do like I think you, have to you have to you have to really avoid that that. You, know just, like it's it's sort of a grumpy thing that yeah we, definitely. Want to not do. So. Many years. Making. Music and having this giant. Repertoire, are, there any songs that you sort, of gotten sick off and I like I just never want to play that again salutely yes which, ones we. Have to say which ones. Cuz, we're contractually obligated, no. Yeah. I think it well they they come in they come and go I think there's some there's some that we've played a lot that. We, we. Get tired of and then they you know that we could there's. Always the option of rediscovering, stuff. So I think that's a nice. Thing you know we have a big enough repertoire, that we can shuffle. Things in and out and you. Know. Weirdly. Though I think we've still kind of like generally. Like our, early material, I mean they're definitely since we don't have to rehearse yeah. You know that's fun it's. Fun not rehearsing, you know songs and it is also fun like the in it like the truth that you know the energy you get back from an audience when you're playing a popular. Song you. Know I mean I I. Saw, I, saw the recent, film of the Rolling Stones and, Wow. But. I have to say like they. Are they're. Still playing satisfaction. Which seems crazy, to me especially. Since they said they wouldn't they. They, promised. Your. Kids, albums actually I mean, I've been a fan of you guys since since, college and I work flat on cassette even and. And. So it's great fun to be able to introduce you, know the band to to my kid and he, was a big fan of you. Know here come the ad season here come the 23 and just wanted to hear about sort of what inspired that and, it's. It's a curious thing doing kid stuff because. You're. Kind of immediately. Declaring. That you're a nicer. Person than you might actually be. You. Know I mean we have you know we are guys who were in a rock band you, know an alternative rock band at a time when like you, could be extremely, selfish, and you. Know doing kids stuff it's like you really, have, to be extraordinarily, nice. They. Like that's, on behalf of the parents the kids actually like the mean attitude. Yeah and they like the swearing. But. There's there's sort of like, the. The kids think writing, kids, music is a really great open invitation to, like just write about anything it's like it is a enormous, trampoline. To, jump on and just write a song like you think talk about like how do you keep writing new, songs like writing, having. The, opportunity. To write for, kids I think in many ways really. Sort. Of got us revved up again about the whole writing process because. There's. No there's no sense of like a you. Know no rock critic, is going to like, talk.

About Your work you. Know when you're writing a kid's song you you're really just writing for yourself and, you're in an audience and the audience and. So. It's just a very it's, a very kind. Of lovely. Scenario. Doing. But doing kids shows, is, something else entirely, and it's. Very, it's. Very hard. To. Meet, like mediate, the demands, of like. Their their people like, when we do a kid show we. Find out right away that it is both too. Long and too short. And. Much. And much too loud and much too quiet, so. It's like you know it's it's it's very it's. A strangely. You know for something that seems. Like it could. It's. Just complicated. Yeah kids kids don't know what they want that's the problem you know there's, an impossible to please. Many. Parents for making a lot of long journeys, more tolerable thank, you it's something we could all listen to a ninja yard designer thank. You. So. Before we wrap up I just have one more question you mentioned self, called nowhere is gonna come back on this tour you're looking at other songs in the catalogue is there any song in particular that. You're excited to be playing on. The upcoming tour maybe, that you haven't played in a while well, I would say you know we've got a lot of new material. That, is we're really thrilled to be, introducing. That's that's I mean for me that's the funnest thing is the new stuff oh I, like, the whole I'm super. Psyched about just working, with Kurt Ram who are trumpet player and you, know having, long, car rides talking about politics, with our band that's. Yelling. At the TV yeah, great. Well so very excited to see you on this tour and thanks again to John Linnell and John Flynn's Berg. You.

2018-01-26 08:40

Show Video


This was an amazing interview. But... seriously? That guy had never even heard of the band and HE of all people asks them to stop the interview for an autograph? Wtf. The audacity. hahah

Excellent discussion!

Uh... Filming Parkour is about as crazy as you'd expect. Scene from The Bourne Ultimatum

I'd like to see the resurgence of town crier as means to get news. I worked downtown Portland for years, there are plenty of people going around yelling the strangest shit for free. You could re introduce a job creating industry. That'd be an awesome way to hear about new bands, I'm sure some could even hit a note or two adequately to sample tracks.

It's been a really long time since I've seen them in anything, so they look older than they've ever been and now they're even older.

Thanks for posting this interview! TMBG forever!


Happy Birthday Floating Heads!

This is such a sad and horrifying video. But still great.

Why sad and horrifying!??

They're too clever for the average person. Keep up the good work!

I want to hear the other Coraline songs someday.

Me too. I actually read about the whole situation on the TMBW wiki as it was happening, and I've never forgotten those songs. At first they said they'd release them eventually. Then a few months later they basically said they would never release them. Really depressing.

Linnell has some nice boots.

Their face at 36:05 when they realize the host actually has won one of their contests before

I was introduced to TNBG by MTV back when it was what it said it was (wow, I am so old). I have always enjoyed their stuff, but ”Flood,” come on, it is what they will be remembered for. Love the Tiny Tunes “videos” of the classics from Flood. Glad “Dial-a-Song,” is back. Awesome band for those who's musical vision is not only “left of center,” but cross-eyed and dyslexic, with a slight astigmatism on the right. I am glad they survived their original success. (The Kubrick cardigan was a nice touch.)

"There's a lot of death imagery." Yep, it's They Might Be Giants alright! :-P

Love TMBG but man JL would benefit from a dental/ortho visit. Lookin a little crazy in his older years

Linnell's always had bad teeth! XD But that's okay, we're used to them!

I want a The Shining cardigan!!!

Kind of majestic.

Man I'm glad I'm not the only one that noticed lol

Very interesting talk with more interesting questions by the audience.

I'm the kind of person that drags a friend (or goes alone), and loses my shit at Hey Mr DJ

Have you seen the Last Wave video?? I mean there's no video yet, but the lyrics are even sadder and more horrifying lmao. I wonder if they'll re-post a Last Wave video for Dial-a-Song, but with more than just a still photo.

Oooooh! Yes it definitely is hahaha (Oh this is my other account. I'm Ben Simon, ignore that it says two different people)

I meant The I Like Fun Music Video. Sorry I just realized that

john linnell's single flexed neck muscle has got me goin'

Love these guys!

MagicTurtle643 And The mrs. Bluebeard song. It’s really good but it’s based off of something grim...

MagicTurtle643 I know right! We die alone we die afraid we live in terror. They’re crazy but I love them. Lol

Saw them last summer and many times before. Cannot believe they keep making great music. They had a trumpet player in their last concert that was AMAZING !!!!! Keep it up JOHNS

Can’t wait for the Seattle show!! #wootwoot!

Sweet! I hope they play ‘Self called nowhere’ when I see them in April!

I mean in fairness, he did explain that it was for his friend who was a really big music nerd lol

John is wearing a sweater with the Shining carpet...

Self Called Nowhere!!!! FINALLY my fave

Did they really skip over CD-ROM, though? What about the Enhanced content on "No!"?

Flansburgh looks a lot older.

He's older than he's ever been.

I was thinking the same thing -- one word "Invisalign"

You´re kidding!! I love "Careful What You Pack", now I'm curious about all those songs you guys wrote for "Coraline" I loved the interview by the way :)

I found this video because I was really mad that I couldn't find my They Might Be Giants shirt that I've had for 20 years. I put it away somewhere. It has a little picture of a snowman warming his hands over a pile of burning money. The neck was always a little snug. It's in a box somewhere with my favorite skull shirt.

Teeth are white, in spite of the caffeine addiction. I'd say let the man be himself, because that's why we like what he does.

fartzinwind and now they're even older

I've enjoyed (most of) their studio releases since discovering TMBG in their Lincoln days. Nanobots did zilch for me; lyrics as weak as Mink Car's and music equally so (despite the same punchy production values as Join Us.) Black Ops was as low a nadir as I've Got a Fang. Hope this new album is closer to The Spine than The Snooze.

Someone will show you a picture of themselves. "This is a picture of me when I was younger." EVERY picture is a picture of you when you were younger. - Mitch Hedberg.

I was in the front row singing Hey Mr. DJ, I love that song, so glad you played it. You played everything I wanted to hear except You're on Fire! Loved it.

There is a contest to make a video for the song and you can win something. I will watch this and learn.

a self called nowhere - awesome it's back in the live mess! killer tune.

I love TMBG, but all I see is Flansburgh's amazing sweater. #allworkandnoplay

Did anyone else notice John Flansmores The Shining Carpet Sweater???? So boss!!!

Nice profile picture!

I just posted about... We are true nerds!!!


Curt Ramm is amazing and the Detroit show in Feb '18 was off the hook!

Admit it, you went and watched the flash version of Experimental film either just before or just after this.

MORE State Songs!

That was great, but where are all the women at Google Talks???

Lesley Gouger fighting for equal pay....

WesIsaLeo let me just say that its sad that 2 songs they tend to do off The Spine most are Memo to human resources and the great (but overplayed) Damn Good Times...

Ana Ng not me. This makes complete sense. I remember thinking it seemed disconnected from everything i thought it was a repackaged stuff at the time.

MrVipitis yeah I made one. But I was three days late to enter it. It’s on my channel.

Ryan Devine same I see them tomorrow night!!

I was about to mention it. I guess we all catch on if we've seen it or the documentaries about it.

Saw the show this past weekend. Kurt on horns made the show amazing.

I could listen to these guys talk for hours!!

If it helps, I edited together a video for Careful What You Pack which incorporates a fan-made video along with clips from Coraline. You can see it here -

he's cool because he admitted he didn't know them

I come to TMBG for that quality weird shit

I thought it was beautiful. You could tell the guy was a bit embarrassed, but to me it underlined a few things that I love about TMBG. #1) They are so insanely genious and diverse that it's impossible to classify them. So they have remained somewhat obscure, though very successful. #2) Once They get into your head, it's impossible to get them out. When Flood came out, I was a teenage metalhead... but I had to have that album. I bought it and I still play the same CD today. They and Primus really opened my mind to what music can be when you use your imagination. #3) After all this time, John didn't big-time that guy. He was humble, polite and made time for him in the middle of an interview. That's class that you just don't see out of people these days. Peace!


stop already, maybe he doesn't like dentists... focus on what matters, not the superficial

To be take, everyone is older than they've ever been

And they're even older now.

Did they?

Mister Apple yup.

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