They Might Be Giants

By Alva Casey

They Might Be Giants are heading to New Zealand this May to play shows on Friday May 17th at Bodega inWellington and Saturday May 18th at the Kings Arms in Auckland.

Consisting of basically the "Two Johns" - John Linnell on keyboards and accordion and John Flansburgh on guitar, They Might Be Giants formed in Brooklyn, New York in 1982. Their current live act includes crowd favourites. "Birdhouse In Your Soul", "Ana Ng", "Particle Man", "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)", "The Guitar", "Don't Lets Start", "Statue Got Me High" and "Doctor Worm". 

Alva Casey fired some questions John Flansburgh's way ahead of the tour.

Every time you are flicking through the TV channels and hear "Boss Of Me" introducing Malcolm in the Middle do you get a warm fuzzy feeling inside or just die a little?

It's interesting to be in peoples lives that way. It's essentially faceless, but its also surprisingly universal. The only jarring thing is when the broadcast speed it up the recording to save five seconds -- which sounds weird and kind of awful.

You guys formed back in the early 80's when music piracy involved kids with an ear pressed up against their tuner radio waiting for the song they want to record on their mixed tape. It's a very different ball game nowadays. Has this change over the years impacted on you at all or does piracy even bother you?

It seems to me there is a lot of concern within the music industry over trying to monazite casual listening on line that really is closer to the way people used to listen to radio -- and that seems kind of forced. Not everything you check out you are going to want to hear again and again. But of course the sorry truth is the music business isn't even half of what it was ten years ago. Between file sharing and music players that are perilously close to music on demand--a lot of potential revenue is clearly disappearing. So things have changed, and will continue to change.

For us we put a lot of free music into the world hoping to find our audience because we simply aren't on the radio, or in the mass culture. We just did created an iphone app that has a different song featured every day, and that seems like a nice way to introduce people to the band.

Does any other city in the world come close to NYC?

Would it be okay if we just said "Yes"?

I want to tell you-we just recently played in a tiny town called Helotes in Texas, not that far from Austin. We played at this tremendous spot there called Flore's. It's a restaurant (serving things like jalepeno peppers filled with pulled pork and wrapped in bacon) during the day and a music hall at night. Willie Nelson got his start there years ago, an there is a tremendous energy to the place and the crowd. It just is about as exciting a place as you could imagine. It is the exact opposite of New York in virtually every way, but I loved it completely.

What has been the proudest moment of your career?

Winning a couple of Grammy Awards does a lot to calm down your parents, but I am not sure that is what I'm proudest of. Getting played on MTV seemed crazy, having a chart hit in the UK and playing on Top of the Pops was interesting. But it's hard to say what single thing is to be proud of. Hmmm.... We really crawled our way out of the local NY music scene, so the simple fact that we got to make an album at all was a real life victory for us. Hmmm.... Doing a ton of good, original shows and making a lot of original recordings -- I guess that's what I'm really proud about.

What is the biggest abomination to have ever happened to music?

Oh, there's something abominable happening just about all the time. And they often seem vaguely charming in retrospect. One of the very pleasant things about getting older is not giving a rats ass about that kind of stuff.

If any other musician alive or dead had to replace you in the band who would you choose?

I would chose a dead musician because I do not want to be upstaged.


They Might Be Giants latest album 'Nanobots' is available now

They Might Be Giants

May 17th:  Bodega, Wellington
May 18th:  The Studio, Auckland

Tickets via Under The Radar