From This Might Be A Wiki

The following is a transcription of the interview conducted by Jennifer Campana of WCWS before the band's set on September 18, 1993.

JC = Jennifer Campana
JF = John Flansburgh
JL = John Linnell



JC: What inspired you guys to get involved in the music business?

JL: There was a desperate need for our kind of music. There was an empty space on the left-hand side of the music scene and we wanted to fill it up.

JC: How did you arrive at the name "They Might Be Giants?"

JL: It's the name of a movie from the '70s with George C. Scott and Joanne Woodward.

JC: So you just liked the movie a lot?

JL: Well, it seemed like a good name for a band. We named ourselves in '83 and I think our name tends to reflect the immediate moment that the band started. I think it does because it's such a long name and it seemed very different. There are other bands that exist that have names that long, but at the time it seemed humorous.

JC: Your band has some creative, far-out songs. Where did you get some of these ideas?

JL: That's a difficult question to answer. I think we are like a lot of writers in the ongoing situation of suffering from writer's block. Then there are those rare moments when you actually think of something new and you milk that idea as much as you can. I think if we knew where you could actually find new ideas we'd go there as often as possible.

JC: Tell me a little bit about your song "Birdhouse in your Soul." I know there is some story behind it about a personified nightlight, isn't that right?

JL: It's the song from the perspective of a nightlight. It's one of those songs that's in the category where the music gets written first and then you have to make up all the words that go to the melody. It's a little harder to write lyrics this way because you are trying to fit them into these melodies. You have to come up with words that maybe aren't exactly telling the story clearly. It's a pop song, and pop songs don't always have a hidden meaning. It gives you license to write more elliptical lyrics.

JC: Tell me a little bit about your new CD-5?

JL: Well, our new CD-5 is called "Why Does the Sun Shine?" It's just kind of checking in on the scene. We don't have a full-length album coming out too soon in the future, so it's not to prepare you for anything. It's got three cover songs and one brand new song on it and it's just kind of an odd piece for us, as they say in the record business. The title of the track is an educational song that was originally recorded in 1959 and was in our repertoire for a number of years. We actually dropped it for a while because we had been playing it for such a long time. A lot of people requested it and seemed to remember it. It seemed to have more impact than we recognized and so we kind of resurrected it in the past couple of months with our new drummer, Brian Doherty playing the glockenspiel on it. It's in our show now and it gets a really good response. It's a song that doesn't have drums on it and for a rock band to do a song that doesn't have drums, it is always sort of a departure in their show. It was originally going to be a 7-inch single and we put "Jessica," our version of the Allman Brothers on it.

JC: That's right, your tribute song.

JL: Yes.

JF: The homage, we call it.

JL: There's another song called "Whirlpool" which is on a Meat Puppets album. John (Flansburgh) put together an alternative horn chart version of it. On the Meat Puppets it's kind of an up-tempo guitar-driven song and ours is very slow.

JC: I thought rumor had it there was going to be another album coming out in the new year. So, is this not true?

JL: Yes, there will be a record coming out in the new year but it won't be out right away. So, I think there might be some kind of misinformation in the press release, because people seem to be getting the impression that the CD-5 is somehow a preview of our new record, which is not the case.

JC: There is no correlation between the two?

JF: Except in the sense that this is the first thing we've recorded that uses the whole band. We've never recorded anything that uses the whole band until now and a record that will come out next year will be the first album that we've made with the rock group, drums, bass and all that stuff. A lot of it will be recorded live in the studio.

JL: We've worked for the past nine years as a duo, using the drum machines and tape stuff and so this is only for the last year that we've been workin' with these guys.

JC: Did either of you ever DJ for college radio?

JL: At WYSU, in Yellow Springs, Ohio, I spent a couple of late nights broadcasting to no one with a couple of my friends, high on drugs. It was an interesting time. It was before college radio had an identity. It wasn't a free-form thing, it wasn't an alternative chart, or anything. I think the show that came on after ours was a Blue Grass show. So, it wasn't more like old-style, free-form radio, than like a groovier version of MTV or something like that.

JC: Which one of you guys plays the accordion?

JL: Over here.

JC: That's one of the many aspects of your group that makes you stand out from the rest. Do you feel it's unique?

JL: Well, it's unique, but I feel like a lot of people play it now, I mean when we started out, it was considered more square and now it's square all over again cause everyone's doing it.

JC: So, do you have anything else to add before you set up for tonight?

JL: Keep your feet on the stars and keep reaching for the ground.