The Avatars Of They
The Avatars Of They are a musical duo of sock puppets—Blue Avatar (Flansburgh) and Green Avatar (Linnell)—who have been part of live They Might Be Giants shows since their debut on October 1, 2009, during the tour promoting the album Here Comes Science. Frequently introduced with the riff from Edgar Winter's "Free Ride", Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train", or Black Sabbath's "Paranoid", the puppets sing a selection of songs and exchange banter—including commentary on their "opening act", They Might Be Giants, and their endorsement of made-up products from their sponsors. The mini-show, visible to the audience via a large projection screen, is a highlight at both family shows and rock shows. John Linnell speculated that their success is generated by the fact that they are "the one element that adults, teenagers and kids all crave...sock puppets." In March of 2010, the Avatars began to be accompanied by a small cardboard cut-out of Meg Ryan, which could be handled by either John, and interacted with the puppets. Since then they have also appeared with other cardboard cut-out celebrities, such as the Supreme Court of the United States. It was joked that the Avatars made a risqué appearance in the music video for "Spoiler Alert", which features the bare hands of John and John—and therefore the naked Avatars.
At one point it was rumored that there might be an album from the Avatars. Linnell initially denied this in an interview with Pittsburgh Music Report, March 2010:
We're not making an album with the puppets, but they do appear with us in the show. They present us with an opportunity to let our real feelings out. We've also been using them backstage to work through some issues from our own childhoods. I think we're beginning to see a real breakthrough there. Only the first sentence is true.
Despite this claim, likely due to their continued popularity, they made their studio debut in Podcast 50 with "Goatee" and followed that with "He's Loco" in August 2012. The Avatars also played a role in the 2012 They Might Be Giants Instant Fan Club subscription, with three exclusive Avatars podcasts available to members. Their eponymous debut EP was released in 2013. Also in 2013, TMBG released a strange pre-animated video referring to the Avatars.
In the late 90's, John and John would "perform" "Exquisite Dead Guy" and "Counterfeit Faker" at live shows by moving severed ventriloquist dummy heads affixed to mic stands around the stage. TMBG gave away the puppet heads in late spring of 2000, but it is possible that this element of their show acted as a precursor to the use of the Avatars.
Songs that the Avatars have been known to perform live:
- Epic Fail Baloney Sandwiches Jingle
- He's Loco
- In The Middle, In The Middle, In The Middle
- Midnight Train To Georgia
- Pandor Jingle
- Shoehorn With Teeth
- Spoken bridge of Snowball In Hell
- Stalk Of Wheat
- Spoiler Alert
- Three Might Be Duende
- To All The Girls I've Loved Before
- Toddler Hiway (Live)
- What Is A Shooting Star?
The Avatars have also begun producing studio tracks:
All of these are included on their debut EP.