The Escape Team

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The Escape Team studio album cover
The Escape Team
Studio album by They Might Be Giants
First released December 10, 2018
Release details / collectors: Show | Hide
Tracks 11 Last studio album My Murdered Remains
Label Idlewild Recordings Length 23:42 Next studio album BOOK
The Escape Team comic book
Sketches of some Escape Team members
The Escape Team getting boxed alongside My Murdered Remains for shipping in 2018.

The Escape Team is the 22nd album by They Might Be Giants, a concept album consisting of songs about a team of fictional characters invented by They Might Be Giants with artist and longtime visual collaborator David Cowles.


The Escape Team was announced in the offering for the 2018 Instant Fan Club[1] as a comic book "about twelve misfit mutants escaping their military-industrial overlords", along with an album of accompanying songs about each of the characters. The Escape Team: Issue #1 comic book, written and drawn by David Cowles, was sent to IFC members in early 2018 and later made available for purchase on TMBG's merch store.

In a March 2018 interview with radio station KMSU, John and John explained the origin of the project:

JF: We work with David Cowles on a million different things—he's done many many videos for us in the past. David and I cooked up a list—the whole thing with the Escape Team is that we were just looking for, like, prompts to write songs. All the songs are sort of character songs, and so we put together a list of names that were... I gotta back up even farther. There was this guy "Big Daddy" Roth in the '60s who was a cartoonist. He made hot rods but he also drew Rat Fink, which people might know.

JL: He drew, like, monsters driving cars with eight hundred eyeballs and their tongue wagging behind in the wind—

JF: And the tradition of the Rat Fink thing is to have these names, these sort of punny names for all the illustrations. So we were really just kind of riffing off of that and came up with all these names—like two dozen names or more, and then whittled them down to the ones that were funny, and also not evil or too strange or too far afield.

Flansburgh and Cowles decided to create twelve characters initially for the purposes of making a calendar for Instant Fan Club members; at this point, they were just random monsters not intended to be part of a team, or even individual characters; Hammurabi from the Mesopotamians was even considered to be part of the calendar at one point. Flansburgh later decided that a comic book should also be made to flesh the characters out, but because the original plan had led to Cowles not being sure of what any of the characters would be like beyond their designs, he rented the 1967 war film The Dirty Dozen and watched it for inspiration, taking the elements of the characters being imprisoned and their backstories being explained through brief descriptions directly from it.[2] The front cover of the book would be drafted on August 24, 2017, and finished later that month.

Throughout the year, Escape Team character songs were highlighted on the 2018 iteration of Dial-A-Song, each with a music video drawn and directed by Cowles (with the exception of "The Poisonousness", directed by Ajax Digital Design). Songs were recorded for all but one of the Escape Team characters, due to time constraints. Flansburgh acknowledged, "with all the touring, time ran out on Hair Ned. But there is no doubt he will get his own song in the not so distant future! Ned will not be denied!"[3] The cover art for the album was finished on October 3, 2018.

On December 10, The Escape Team album was released. Like My Murdered Remains, The Escape Team album is available on CD, vinyl and download on Idlewild Recordings directly from They Might Be Giants via their merch store, but is not available on streaming services such as Spotify.

Track listing[edit]

# Title Length  Lyrics Guitar Tab
1 Jackie The Clipper 2:21


2 Chip The CHiP 1:48


3 Burnice 1:54


4 Dr. Sy Fly 2:03


5 Dunkin Of Course Of Course 2:11


6 Mr. Mischief Night 2:10


7 John Postal 2:35


8 Flo Wheeler 2:03


9 Corrupted Lyle 1:37


10 Re-PETE Offender 2:12


11 The Poisonousness 2:55



  • This is the first album since Join Us in 2011 to include lyrics in the liner notes. The exception is "Re-PETE Offender", which was made at the last minute, according to Flansburgh.[4]
  • This is TMBG's shortest studio album.