Friday, July 30, 2010

Stage Announcements - 7/30/10

Hello, hello.

We are going retro again today as it's been another slow news week.

I've picked out this 1998 interview with Flansburgh because it seems to talk about a time period in band history that Erin brought up in the comments of monday's post. And also because I was thinking of his answer to one of the questions when I was watching Flans watch Jonathan Coulton last week.

And you also get this one, just because I like the interview.

Finally, this seems like a pretty worthy cause to get behind and help our guys support. (Not trying to get all politically motivated here, so if you don't agree don't yell at me, just don't watch the video.)

Main PSA (7.14.10) from TakePart on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

There's a Picture Opposite Me - 7/28/10

This one is from Jamie.

Glass of milk

"Would you mind if we balanced this glass of milk where your visiting friend accidently was killed?" - Someone Keeps Moving My Chair, They Might Be Giants

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Burning Questions

Hello, legions of internet TMBG fans. I promised you a more cheerful Audience Participation entry this week and I am hope this one delivers. It should at least be an interesting discussion topic.

After having yet another conversation with a band member (Marty this time) on Thursday in which I said nothing particularly intelligent and just enough to be kicking myself for sounding stupid, I have conversations with the band on the brain. Despite my desire to come across as an intelligent, normal and perhaps only moderately star struck individual when conversing with members of the band, my mind always seems to go to mush and I either say almost nothing or something reasonably innocuous that I manage to convince myself later sounded idiotic. Not once have I been with-it enough to ask a question (except would you sign this?) and I always think of several that I would like the answer to after the fact.

Which brings us to today's topic. If you were given the opportunity to talk to the band, either in a formal interview or an informal chat over coffee, what would you ask them? There is a whole Fantasy Interview page of questions over on the wiki but most of the questions are either outdated, foolish (when are you coming back to Chicago? Can I see the Rabid Child video?), or I've already heard the answer in interviews. I'm really curious what questions you, the loyal readers, would want the answers to.

Here are mine. A few of these are very self serving but I think some of them would be interesting. I did 25 questions but you can do as many or as few as you want.

-Do you actually mind fans taking pictures and videos during shows?

-You sometimes refer to your most loyal, active fans as your "front row" but does it actually bug you to see the same people in the front row at every show? Would you prefer those fans stepped back and gave some else a turn sometimes?

Ok, I admit those first two were the completely self serving questions, but they are two that I desperately want to know the answer to because I would completely change my concert behavior if I knew for certain that it bothered the band.

-You've dabbled in so many different forms of media for music (film, TV, videos, commercials, video games, etc). Is there anything you'd like to take a stab at that you haven't tried yet?

-With the face of the music industry changing so dramatically, CDs dying a rapid death, and more and more bands leaving their labels to strike out on their own where do you see the future of the music industry lying and where would you like TMBG's place in that future to be?

-Settle an age-old annoying fan debate. Self Called Nowhere: it or id?

-What instruments do you typically write songs on or does it vary depending on the needs of the song?

-At what point in the song writing/recording process do you involve the rest of the band? How much input do they have into their respective instrument's part?

-Dan Miller regularly singing back-up on some songs live but does he also sing on any of the recorded versions of songs and if so which ones? (This has been my personal favorite debate question lately)

-For each of the members of the backing band: What is your musical background? Where/when did you learn to play? Why that instrument? How did you become involved with TMBG? How much of a time/career commitment is playing with TMBG? What do you do when you aren't playing with the band?

-With Dial-A-Song, podcasts, free downloads and the like, you have a history of testing out new material on the fans but you seem to have shied away from that in recent years. Deliberate and any particular reason or just lack of time?

-What are a few of your best tour stories from 25+ years on the road?

-Crazy fan stories? Creepiest thing a fan ever gave you or asked you to do?

-Has working together for so long spoiled being friends at all? I mean when the day is done and the work is over do you still want to hang out just for fun or is enough enough?

-What are some of your favorite pastimes when you aren't working?

-Do you ever begrudge the kid's music a little for messing with your rock career or are you mostly just grateful for it providing added support for your rock career?

-After a lifetime of interviews, what is the one question you are absolutely sick of answering?

-Do you see a lot of yourselves in your fans or do ever look out and wonder what the connection is?

-Looking back on your career so far, any regrets or things you would have done differently?

-How do you take your coffee? Favorite kind or just anything that comes from a bean? (Ok, yes, this one is just me being silly)

-You've, I'm sure, meet thousands of fans over the years, most of them desperate to tell you how much they love you and their personal TMBG story. Any really memorable fan encounters that truly touched you or had an impact on you?

-If you could go back and re-live any show you've done, either because it was so much fun or because you want to improve on it, is there one you would choose?

-Do you think you would still be making music if no one ever came to listen?

-What is the best perk of being in a rock band?

-How do you go about choosing songs for a setlist at the beginning of a tour? Aside from the must-plays (Birdhouse, Istanbul, etc) and the songs from whatever album you are touring, do you just pull a few at random out of a hat that haven't been done in a while or is there a method to it? Are there songs that we will likely never hear again or is anything fair game?

And finally:

-Will you please, please, please play Man, It's So Loud In Here for me at a show? Just once, so I can die happy? Please?

I could probably come up with a ton more, but that's what I've got for the moment. Can't wait to see some of yours. I'm actually sort of curious if anyone has ever asked about doing a fan interview with questions submitted by fans to post on TMBW or something like that. Seems like the sort of thing that might be possible and good promotion if presented in a professional way. I'd also love to see interviews with Dan and Danny and Marty. Too bad I'm not a reporter.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Yet To Be Named Jonathan Coulton Project Band

The boyfriend and I went to two Jonathan Coulton shows in Massachusetts Thursday and Friday. He previewed new material and his new band featuring the King of the Drums himself, Marty Beller and Chris Anderson (better known as "The Guy" from the Anaheim and Asbury Park videos among many other accomplishments).

I'm not going to do a full write up on these shows, because really this is a TMBG blog not a Jonathan Coulton blog, and also all of both shows are up on YouTube so you could just watch them yourself if you are interested. But I will say that the shows were FANTASTIC! Jonathan did a few songs acoustic before bringing out the band and the electric guitar. They played a nice mix of new stuff and old stuff. I enjoyed all the new songs and managed to ear worm myself with the one about mustaches all day yesterday. The banter was hilarious, especially in Northampton on Thursday when Jonathan was still getting used to his guitar and the new material and making some entertaining mistakes.

The audience in Somerville on Friday looked like pretty much the largest geek gathering since PAX East in March and in fact I think they were largely the same people. Jonathan had us all boo when he picked up the electric guitar just to see what it would sound like and a few people hissed. He decided the hissing was the worst so of course people hissed at him the whole rest of the night. He said one of the things he appreciated most about the Jonathan Coulton audience was their talent for taking a joke and running with it. Which immediately resulted in numerous people in the audience yelling either "Arrrrrrr" or "Awwwww" in a direct carry over from the PAX concert.

The band sounded fantastic, particularly on the new arrangements of old stuff like Creepy Doll and Mandelbrot Set. Marty was terrific as usual and exhibiting some classic Marty drumming faces. I really like Chris Anderson a lot. He provided some nice harmonies on a few songs and he's a pretty kick-ass bass player (though not my favorite mind you, that role has already been filled ;-). And despite some tuning issues and a few slip ups Jonathan rocked the electric guitar.

Thursday's show provided some celebrity audience watching. I knew John Hodgman was going to be there because he Twittered about it. He was easy to spot mingling in the main floor crowd. He posed for some pictures with fans but we didn't bug him. Just before the show started Flansburgh came in with Jamie Kitman and another friend. It seemed that the club had neglected to save them seats and they ended up watching the whole show standing by the stairs. I suspect that I was actually sitting in the seat meant for Flans, or at least the one marked with his picture.

JoCo 7/22/10 #2

(Psst, that was a joke.) Given the number of TMBG T-shirts I saw in the audience I was impressed that Flans managed to stay relatively incognito.

I went to visit the restrooms in the basement before the show (which were very small and in an odd location) and ended up getting serenaded through the open green room door while waiting in line. I originally thought it was Marty singing but after hearing the show I think it was actually Chris Anderson, possibly with Marty singing along. Hard to say since I couldn't see them. They were singing an Indigo Girls song though.

After the show I was back downstairs using the facilities again and ended up standing at the bottom of the stairs waiting for the boyfriend as Marty came out of the green room to say bye to Flans. He met my eye and smiled at me and I waved a little. Then he walked right over and started talking to me. I was so tongue tied I'm afraid I wasn't very eloquent but we had a nice brief chat. I can only imagine what it looked like to the boyfriend to come back from the bathroom to find me chatting with Marty Beller.

So lots of fun was had at both shows.Here are a few videos I took of four of the six new songs, the first two from Northampton and the second two from Somerville. Enjoy!

The Stache

Today With Your Wife


Sticking It To Myself

Friday, July 23, 2010

Stage Announcements - 7/23/10

Just a short entry today. I'll post up a short recap and some videos of Jonathan Coulton's shows with Marty later.

In the meantime, please enjoy this fun interview. It is filled with silliness and good quotes. And Oreos.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

There's A Picture Opposite Me - 7/21/10

Silly one today, to make up for downer post on Monday.

Blue Thing

"What's that blue thing doing here?" - Fingertips, They Might Be Giants

Send submissions to

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Bottom Of The Heap

I know, I know. Late again. I'm sorry.

Apologies if this entry is a bit of a downer. Though I try to keep the personal life stuff off this blog for the most part, I will say that I have been pretty down in the dumps lately. This is not proving to be a great summer for me. If I can offer you a piece of advice: don't grow up. Being an adult is highly overrated. My usual antidote to an emotional slump is a TMBG show but since I am still two months away from my next one I'm going to rely on the rockin' combination of Jonathan Coulton and Marty Beller to pulls me out of the doldrums this week. Come on boys, don't let me down!

This week's somewhat dreary topic, because I honestly couldn't think of anything else, is my 10 least favorite TMBG songs. I should clarify that I don't hate any of these. I don't think there are any TMBG songs that I truly dislike. These are just the very bottom of the list for me. I'm not in the habit of skipping songs when I listen to an album so I do still listen to these songs fairly regularly. But they haven't made it onto any of my TMBG mix CDs that I typically listen to in the car. I think I am afraid to completely eliminate any song from rotation for fear that it will eventually grow on me. It has happened with plenty of other songs and I don't want to deny any song the chance the chance to become a favorite. But for today these are the bottom of the heap.

My 10 Least Favorite TMBG Songs

10. Bee of the Bird of the Moth - Hey, it's my favorite of my least favorites. Does that count for anything? I highly suspect that I will grow to love this song one day. It just hasn't happened yet.

9. S-E-X-X-Y - This is probably more a case of indifference that anything else.

8. Stompbox - This is just a little too dark even for me. But since I can never understand the lyrics anyway it doesn't bother me that much.

7. E Eats Everything - I actually quite like the lyrics. I think it is the spoken word aspect that I don't enjoy.

6. John Lee Supertaster - In the right circumstances I can enjoy this song but it has to just the right circumstances.

5. Mr. Excitement - I just don't like rap. Sorry.

4. Employee of the Month - Huh? I just don't get it.

3. You'll Miss Me - I actually don't mind the demo tape version of this song but the one on the album is a little too abrasive.

2. I've Got A Fang - This creeps me out. Between the weird voice and the weird lyrics it just gives me the willies.

1. She Thinks She's Edith Head - This song rubbed me the wrong way from the get go. It is always my first response when someone asks me about songs I don't like. I can't even say what it is that bothers me. Secretly however, I sort of suspect that maybe I don't dislike it as much as I think I do and that someday it will suddenly vanish from this list entirely.

There we go. I promise a more cheerful topic next week. Suggestions welcome.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Stage Announcements - 7/16/10

No new news to report today so we are going retro.

Here's a short one from 1995 in which Linnell makes a statement that has long since been proven false.

From 1998, this interview is a perfect example of why fan girls should not conduct interviews.

And in a more recent interview Flansburgh proves his total ignorance of World of Warcraft.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

There's A Picture Opposite Me - 7/14/10

This week's entry has been submitted by Jaime. Enjoy!


"They might be rain, the might be heat, they might be frying up stalk of wheat." - They Might Be Giants, They Might Be Giants

Email submissions to

Monday, July 12, 2010

Where Have You Been Hiding?

We all have our favorite songs, the ones that we just fell in love with the first time we heard them. But what about those songs that creep up on you? You know the ones. You ignored them at first or were simply indifferent to them. Sometimes you downright disliked them. But over time, you listened to them again and again until one day something just clicked and you realized, "Hey, I love this song!" Maybe it just took hearing it in the right situation or being in the right mood but suddenly you have a whole new appreciation for that song you couldn't care less about yesterday.

I'll tell you a secret. For several years this is actually how I felt about ALL TMBG music. My boyfriend has always been a fan so I definitely heard their music: riding in the car, playing in the background in the apartment, tucked into mix CDs he gave me. I never disliked it, there were even songs I quite enjoyed but I was, overall, pretty indifferent. Somehow it took the right time and the right song for it all to click with me. Then it was like opening a flood gate and I couldn't believe it took me so long to see the light.

Today's Audience Participation is dedicated to those songs that came late to the party. The ones you didn't realize you loved until one day you did. Which is why it is called:

5 Songs I Didn't Realize I Loved Until I Did

5. Pencil Rain - This song used to irritate me, though I don't know why. Then I read an article about They Might Be Giants in which the writer referred to this song as "an ode to urination." I thought, "What the hell? Have I just been totally missing something?" I went back and listened to it again while reading the lyrics and though I have no idea where the guy got the urination idea, I did suddenly realize that, when taken literally, it is about actual pencils falling from the sky. And this gave me a whole new appreciation for it.

4. She's An Angel - I was indifferent to this song until I was having a conversation about whether or not there was a TMBG song appropriate to use as a first dance song at a wedding and suddenly realized this is probably the closest thing to a love song they've got. At least in my opinion. And then I loved it.

3. Metal Detector - This one took hearing Linnell talk about his inspiration for the song on Studio 360. Not only was it eye opening but the book that inspired it was written about treasure hunting on beaches that I know from my childhood which was pretty cool.

2. Self Called Nowhere - Part of my John Henry awakening. From talking to other fans, it seems that pretty much everyone has a weak link when it comes to TMBG albums. Meaning, there is just one album that you aren't as familiar with and haven't listened to as much. The one you are always surprised to discover a song is on because part of your brain has ignored it's existence. John Henry is mine. But I had my boyfriend's copy in the car for a few days recently and realized that not only do I love this song, but it is probably my favorite of all the albums and I just didn't know it. Huh?

1. Subliminal - I know I've told this story before but I did not love this song until I heard it live. Or at least I didn't know I loved it. But the first time I heard it live was such a startlingly intense experience I think I had chills. It is one of my very favorite live show memories. Now every time I hear those opening accordion notes they make my heart soar. Which is an incredibly dorky thing to say but so true. Incidentally, the beginning of this has always reminded me of Paul Simon's The Boy in the Bubble.

I look forward to seeing your selections. And does anybody have a picture they want to submit for Wednesday? I don't have an entry yet. I can make one but I'd love to give someone else a turn.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Stage Announcements - 7/9/10

I am drastically behind on this entry but I hope you will forgive me as I come bearing a fresh, shiny new interview.

For your listening pleasure, I direct you to the full, unedited interview that the Johns did for Iain Lee's radio program on Absolute Radio in London a few weeks back. It's a really entertaining interview that feels more like a fun conversation than an official "I ask you a question, then you answer" sort of deal. Only parts of the interview were included on air so I am pointing you toward the podcast version that includes the whole thing.  You can listen streaming or download it and enjoy it forever from the Absolute Radio website.

Also, the advantage of posting this so late is that I get to wish a very Happy Birthday to the King of the Drums, Mr. Marty Beller! Here's wishing him a fantastic birthday, lots of cake and another fantastic year of wrecking his best shit. You rock, Marty!

In honor of Marty's birthday, please enjoy this episode of Studio 360 from last year, particularly the segment called Watch What You Say, where Marty talks about The List. I would just like to personally thank Marty for pointing out to the world what a completely pointless phrase "it is what it is" actually is. My co-workers use it all the time and it drives me CRAZY.

And in other Marty related news, I just discovered something while I was writing this entry that made me so excited I nearly screamed out loud and actually ran over the top of my bed to get my phone so I could text my boyfriend. As you have probably heard, Flansburgh is producing Jonathan Coulton's next album. If you have been reading this blog for long enough you will know that I am also a huge Jonathan Coulton fan so this made me very happy. It made me even more happy when JoCo announced that he would be doing 2 shows in Massachusetts in July to preview some of the new material. I purchased tickets to both, pretty much immediately. JoCo also mentioned that he would be bringing a band with him to those shows and I was kind of hoping, given Flansburgh's involvement, that that band would include some familiar faces. Well, I just nearly caused reckless injury to myself when I found out that Marty is, in fact, playing with JoCo at those shows. This news pretty much made my month. And I thought I was looking forward to these shows before!

Finally, I shall leave you with two of the videos Flans posted this week. You've seen them already but humor me and watch them again. Celebrate Marty's birthday with the first one but delete everything he says. And then wonder at how bizarre and yet strangely informative the second one is.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

There's A Picture Opposite Me - 7/7/10

I apologize, this picture isn't the greatest because I was in a hurry. As suggested, I'm not going to post the lyric now. I'll let people guess for a bit then add it later.

Dont't forget to send me your submissions at

30 Left

"There were 87 Advil in the bottle now there's 30 left. I ate 47 so what happened to the other 10? Why do you suspiciously interupt me and break my concentration, as I dump the bottle out and I count the Advil up again." Till My Head Falls Off - They Might Be Giants

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

I Wont Grow Up

Hello, hello from the land of "holy crap, I didn't know the thermometer in my car went that high" and "darn, I would have had a really great view of the fireworks from my apartment if there weren't a ruddy great tree in the way."

As suggested by Jaime, I am working on a list of favorite interview quotes for an Audience Participation entry. However, that is a topic that needs more time and research than I have had this weekend so I am going to save that one for a future date. I am warning you so that you too may start hunting down all your favorites (though you lot are probably more organized than me and have them bookmarked.)

In the meantime....

I was reading someone called DB Telford's recap of TMBG's London shows last weekend (which can be found here if you are interested: and was struck by his closing line. "They Might Be Giants are here to remind us all that while we indeed get older by the second, we are in no way required to grow up."

I think that sums up things beautifully and I am taking it to heart in today's Audience Participation topic: 15 Favorite TMBG Songs for Kids (and Grown-Ups Too). We may be adults but that doesn't mean we don't love the children's albums as much as the average five year old! I was going to just do ten songs until I realized how many of those would just be recycled from my 25 TMBG Songs You Can't Live Without List and decided I needed to expand (which probably says something about my musical taste).

And to put you in the proper mood, here is your host and sponsor for this list: BROOM!

5/9/09a #18

15. Impossible - What exactly is an octoflange anyway?

14. How Many Planets? - This is kind of making it onto the list because I love the video and kind of because I love the way Linnell says Uranus.

13. 813 Mile Car Trip - Story of my life with this band....

12. Violin - I realized my boyfriend and I quote this song too much for it not to be here though we probably do talk about hippos more than most people.

11. Sleepwalkers - This one is just really pretty. But it always makes me think of the old Rick Charette song Where Do My Sneakers Go At Night?

10. Can You Find It? - I actually think this song is really clever and I bet it is the only song for children that uses the word "aforementioned."

9. Clap Your Hands - I know this one has some haters in the group. I'm sorry. I just love it. I can't help it. *jump, jump, jump*

8. One Everything - Deep philosophical concepts. Seriously.

7. Seven - We want cake, Where's our cake?!

5. Alphabet Lost and Found - Song = so much fun, especially if Marty is dancing.

5. Alphabet of Nations - No, that's not typo, these songs really are tied. I can not choose between them. Especially when you add in the live versions and they become that much more awesome.

4. Meet the Elements - It Might Be Pizza. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh (that is me doing Dan's back-up part in case you can't tell).

3. Where Do They Make Balloons? - We still don't know the answer but I know I love the song.

2. I Am A Paleontologist - Yes, I did just put two of Danny's songs in my top 5. Deal with it. I've loved this song since the first time it was played. I dance like the little dancing dinosaur when I hear this song.

1. Nine Bowls of Soup - This is the song that made me fall in love with the band. No joke.

Now to make up for the fact that I didn't actually include Broom's song on this list, please enjoy this video of him singing it while you compile your lists.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Discounted Prints

Joe Papeo, the photographer who took that wonderful set of pictures at The Stone Pony that I linked to yesterday, has been kind enough to offer my readers a 20% discount on prints of those pictures.

So if you'd like one of those lovely shots to hang on your wall, visit his website and order yourself a print in a variety of sizes. When you checkout, use the code july20ff to get the discount. 

Personally, I think I will be going for photo number 12. I love that picture of Flans :-)

Here is his website again in case you missed it:

Go get yourself a beautiful photo and support a great photographer :-)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Stage Announcements - 7/2

Small amounts of news to report this week and it is mostly related to the band's gigs in the UK last weekend.

For lack of more newsworthy things to send you to look at, I am going to send you off to go look at all the wonderful pictures that came out of these shows. They are all copyrighted to their owners, so be kind. Look, don't touch.

From Saturday:

There are these by Flickr user Coraline73:

And from Sunday:

This Flickr set from user tepidmunroe who was, I believe, one of the orchestrators of the Cambridge show:

And this one from user StrayToaster. I love the picture of Marty and Flans during High Five:

Also, if you haven't yet, you can still listen to TMBG on Jonathan Ross's radio program, but you have to hurry because it'll only be up for one more day:

You can also listen to the Johns being interviewed on the UK radio program, The Strand. When asked what they plan to tackle next Linnell replies: "We're thinking about making a record for dead people next. That's the demographic we have not touched yet."

The guys were also on Robert Elms radio show, but by this time you read this it wont be available to listen to anymore so I wont bother trying to link.

As I mentioned last week, TMBG also did an interview with Iain Lee while they were in London, for his radio show and podcast. He said on a forum that they were hoping to air it this week but it doesn't look like that happened. I'll keep and eye out for when it does air and post the link.

Unless this blog is your only source of TMBG news  (haha, as if), you probably already know that They Might Be Giants featured in the Final Jeopardy question on last Friday's episode of Jeopardy. I can not tell you how many of my co-workers mentioned this to me. I missed it since I was working but fortunately it is on YouTube. I can't believe none of the contestants got the answer. That noise you heard was thousands of geeks screaming at their televisions sets.

And I shall leave you with a short trip back in time to look at these pictures from the June 11th Stone Pony show taken by photographer Joe Papeo. Really great use of lighting in these and some excellent shots of Flans.

That's all until next week. Happy Fourth of July everyone! Now go enjoy some fireworks :-)