1985 Promotional Demo Tape

From This Might Be A Wiki

They Might Be Giants released several demo tapes in 1985, one of which (commonly referred to as the "1985 Demo Tape") functioned as a prototype album, sold by the Johns. The rest seem to have been intended strictly as promotional tools and demo tapes sent out to club owners in order to get shows and record deals, often with handwritten labels. These tapes were mentioned by Bill Krauss in a 1994 interview with Myke Weiskopf:

We did a lot of demo recording so we could send demos out to get shows. The other reason we put demos together was to try and get a record deal. No one showed any interest at all for a really long time; I really have nothing but praise and thanks for Glenn and Tom at Bar/None.

Bill Krauss elaborated more on the demo tapes in a 2019 interview with the Don't Let's Start fan podcast:

[...] that's why there are all these different versions of—demo collections. There was never a 'this is this demo' and 'this is that demo', it's 'We need to send something out, what have we got?' And so this might have three songs and this might have five songs and it wasn't a [...] there were never clear cut divisions of 'this is this thing' and 'this is that thing', a lot of it is 'We need to send some things out to club owners and this is what we're sending out this week.' [...] at the time, the intention was 'We wanna get shows and how do we do that?' It wasn't that [...] these things weren't artifacts in and of themselves, they were things that had utility to try and get us work. [...] and so, there was no preciousness and there was no archival intent really, it was that we're just doing this because we need to send something to a club owner to try and get a job.

The demo tapes are listed below in order of their discovery by fans.

Tape 1[edit]

1985 Promotional Demo Tape #1 demo tape cover

1985 Promotional Demo Tape #1 back cover
1985 Promotional Demo Tape #1
Demo tape by They Might Be Giants
First released 1985
Release details / collectors: Show | Hide
Tracks 3 (intentional) / 8 (total) Last demo tape Wiggle Diskette
Label TMBG Music Length 15:01 Next demo tape 1985 Demo Tape

Description[edit]

This is a tape that was discovered in 2001 by a curator for the Warhol Museum. It was possibly archived by Andy Warhol himself, but, according to Linnell, "we had friends who worked at the Warhol Institute before he died, so it may be something that came from someone other than him." It seems to be a tape of demos which has been partially recorded over, presumably by John or John, with some recordings that were used to back them as a duo in their early live performances.

Track listing[edit]

# Title Length  Lyrics Guitar Tab
1 (Put Your Hand Inside The) Puppet Head 2:05

 

N/A
2 Youth Culture Killed My Dog 2:58

 

N/A
3 Nothing's Going To Change My Clothes 1:55

 

N/A
4 Boat Of Car (Rhythm Section Instrumental) 0:25

 

N/A
5 Alienation's For The Rich (Rhythm Section Instrumental) 2:25

 

N/A
6 You'll Miss Me (Rhythm Section Instrumental) 1:47

 

N/A
7 Nothing's Gonna Change My Clothes (Rhythm Section Instrumental) 1:55

 

N/A
8 The Famous Polka (Rhythm Section Instrumental) 1:31

 

N/A

  • Note: These are the tracks actually on the cassette. However, included on a business card-sized card that came with the tape was the tracklisting for the 1984 Promotional Demo Tape.


Tape 2[edit]

1985 Promotional Demo Tape #2 demo cover
1985 Promotional Demo Tape #2
Demo by They Might Be Giants
First released 1985
Release details / collectors: Show | Hide
Tracks 4 Last demo Wiggle Diskette
Label TMBG Music Length 8:19 Next demo 1985 Demo Tape
Insert

Description[edit]

Called a "They Might Be Giants Album Sampler" in the liner notes, this cassette features a unique recording of Youth Culture Killed My Dog.

Track listing[edit]

# Title Length  Lyrics Guitar Tab
1 Put Your Hand Inside The Puppet Head 2:10

 

N/A
2 Rabid Child 1:31

 

3 Number Three 1:41

 

N/A
4 Youth Culture Killed My Dog 2:57

 

N/A

Gallery[edit]


Tape 3[edit]

1985 Promotional Demo Tape #3 demo cover
1985 Promotional Demo Tape #3
Demo by They Might Be Giants
First released 1985
Release details / collectors: Show | Hide
Tracks 4 Last demo Wiggle Diskette
Label TMBG Music Length 9:30 Next demo 1985 Demo Tape
Cassette

Description[edit]

This tape, alongside the sixth tape, may be some of the earliest tapes known to exist, possibly predating the Wiggle Diskette. All of the demos contain an Oberheim DMX drum machine, which the Johns loaned from Chris Butler in the summer of 1984.[1] The tape also contains the name of the band in a simplistic font, a font that was also used in 1984 show posters. This tape and the sixth tape also label You'll Miss Me as "You Kill Me", suggesting that this may have been an earlier title for the song. This tape contains two songs that also belong to the Wiggle Diskette, as well as a demo of Cowtown and Rhythm Section Want Ad. The demo of Cowtown is similar to the 1985 Demo Tape version, but the guitar and drum beats are more prominent. The Rhythm Section Want Ad demo has a prominent bass synth and a sample-based intro instead of the adaptation of "Powerhouse" performed by John Linnell.

In the the Darinka Archive at the Fales Library, one of the tapes, labeled "They Got Lost" contains audio from this tape. A J card for this tape that does not contain John Flansburgh's handwriting can also be found inside a copy of the 1985 Demo Tape.

Track listing[edit]

# Title Length  Lyrics Guitar Tab
1 Everything Right Is Wrong 2:25

 

N/A
2 You Kill Me 1:57

 

N/A
3 Cowtown 2:23

 

N/A
4 Rhythm Section Want Ad 2:45

 

N/A

Gallery[edit]


Tape 4[edit]

1985 Promotional Demo Tape #4 demo cover
1985 Promotional Demo Tape #4
Demo by They Might Be Giants
First released 1985
Release details / collectors: Show | Hide
Tracks 3 Last demo Wiggle Diskette
Label TMBG Music Length 5:39 Next demo 1985 Demo Tape
Cassette

Description[edit]

This tape is unique to the Darinka Archive at the Fales Library at NYU. It contains Nothing's Going to Change My Clothes, a unique version of She Was A Hotel Detective based off of the 1985 demo tape version but without the “ooh” vocals at the beginning and a noise solo in the bridge, and I'm Deaf which is nearly identical to the 1985 demo tape version except for the last 20 seconds of the song, where the drum machine level is lowered and continues through to the end of the vocals. The drums then return to full volume and continue with the pattern for an additional 4 seconds beyond the demo tape version. A footnote provided on the J-card reads "(features a real response of one Dial-A-Song caller)".

Track listing[edit]

# Title Length  Lyrics Guitar Tab
1 Nothing's Going To Change My Clothes 1:55

 

N/A
2 She Was A Hotel Detective 2:19

 

N/A
3 I'm Deaf 1:29  N/A


Tape 5[edit]

1985 Promotional Demo Tape #5 demo cover
1985 Promotional Demo Tape #5
Demo by They Might Be Giants
First released 1985
Release details / collectors: Show | Hide
Tracks 3 Last demo Wiggle Diskette
Label TMBG Music Length 6:49 Next demo 1985 Demo Tape


Cassette

Description[edit]

This tape was sold in an eBay auction during July 1999 alongside another 1985 demo tape with unknown tracklisting.[2] The cover uses the 1985 Demo Tape image of the Johns with their paper mache hand props, which were used in their first music video. Interestingly, the tape's cover also includes their first promotional poster from 1983, but with inverted colors. The cassette is a Sony HF 60, which was released on the year of the tape's release.

Track listing[edit]

# Title Length  Lyrics Guitar Tab
1 Youth Culture Killed My Dog 2:58

 

N/A
2 (Put Your Hand Inside The) Puppet Head 2:10

 

N/A
3 Number Three 1:41

 

N/A


Tape 6[edit]

1985 Promotional Demo Tape #6 demo cover
1985 Promotional Demo Tape #6
Demo by They Might Be Giants
First released 1985
Release details / collectors: Show | Hide
Tracks 6 Last demo Wiggle Diskette
Label TMBG Music Length 12:47 Next demo 1985 Demo Tape


Cassette

Description[edit]

A copy of this tape was once owned by Joshua Fried, a longtime collaborator with They Might Be Giants. This tape's first four tracks are identical to the the third tape, with the other two songs being Hell Hotel and The Biggest One. The Biggest One has a slightly different mix than the one on the 1985 Demo Tape. It is ever so slightly slower and lower pitched, with the addition of more prominent bass drums in the intro, as well as an accordion fadeout at the end of the song.

Another copy of this tape is held in Yale University's archives. This, along with the seventh tape, is found in the university's collection of Jim Fouratt's papers. Fouratt was manager of a number of significant New York City nightclubs throughout the 1970s and '80s. Included in these archives is a collection of demo tapes that bands sent to Fouratt, in the hope that they could perform at clubs that he managed. They Might Be Giants did perform at least once at Danceteria, a club which Fouratt co-founded and managed. The type of cassette tape in Yale's archive is a BASF Performance I, while Joshua Fried's tape is a TDK D60.

Track listing[edit]

# Title Length  Lyrics Guitar Tab
1 Everything Right Is Wrong 2:25

 

N/A
2 You Kill Me 1:57

 

N/A
3 Cowtown 2:23

 

N/A
4 Rhythm Section Want Ad 2:45

 

N/A
5 Hell Hotel 1:54

 

N/A
6 The Biggest One 1:23

 

N/A

Gallery[edit]


Tape 7[edit]

1985 Promotional Demo Tape #7 demo cover
1985 Promotional Demo Tape #7
Demo by They Might Be Giants
First released 1985
Release details / collectors: Show | Hide
Tracks 5 Last demo Wiggle Diskette
Label TMBG Music Length 07:41 Next demo 1985 Demo Tape


Description[edit]

This tape is exclusive to the Yale University archives in New Haven. The tape has a near eight-minute runtime and contains five songs, including the shortened version of Doris Cunningham, which can be heard on Then: The Earlier Years. After (She Was A) Hotel Detective, there is an extra drumkick that resembles the start of Become A Robot. It could possibly be the start of another song that was later erased from the tape. Very faint drum count-ins can be heard at the start of Rabid Child and Alienation's For The Rich.

Though Yale's copy of the tape is paired with a tracklist and artwork nearly identical to the sixth tape, Yale confirms "The list of contents included with this tape does not match the recording." Like the sixth tape, it is held in the university's collection of Jim Fouratt's papers.

Track listing[edit]

# Title Length  Lyrics Guitar Tab
1 Doris Cunningham 0:12

 

N/A
2 Become A Robot 1:18

 

3 Rabid Child 1:31

 

4 Alienation's For The Rich 2:25

 

5 (She Was A) Hotel Detective 2:19

 

N/A

Gallery[edit]


Trivia/Info[edit]

  • Another 1985 demo tape, alongside the fifth tape, were sold together in an eBay auction during July 1999. The tape was a Maxell LN 60, and there were no songs listed on the insert.[3]