This Magazine - Summer 1985

From This Might Be A Wiki

The following is a transcription of the interview conducted by Ellen Tinsman of This Magazine with They Might Be Giants, which appeared in the Summer 1985 issue. The interview was inherently goofy, and it was not taken very seriously by anyone involved. This interview is one of the only known interviews including Bill Krauss, the band's original soundman and producer.

From Ellen Tinsman:
Our first experiment in this concept came with the group "They Might Be Giants." You think they might be called "They Might Be Suckers." Fine, that's your opinion, I'll write it down, send it to me, I'll put my name to it.
As a matter of fact, I didn't write this. Somebody else did. I'm pretty sure I'll never write anything again. And I'll have a lot of time off and a lot of money. So don't see me.

"THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS" by Ellen Tinsman
This Magazine, Summer 1985:

Ellen Tinsman: Let's start with Dial-A-Song. Who came up with that idea?

John Linnell: Lots of people thought we got the idea from Rambo. They're wrong. It was First Blood. And if people don't know the difference...

Bill Krauss: We were the first ones...

John Flansburgh: That's right. We were the first to see First Blood, the first with Dial-A-Song, and we're going to be the first with the mind-reading radios, too. Period. Next question?

ET: In spite of overwhelming artistic success here and abroad, your work has been shunned by top industry executives. Why?

JL: Boy, you're going to be sorry you asked that one.

BK: The industry hates us, They know we control half the flow of media culture information world-wide.

JF: I know what you're going to ask—the other half. Who controls the other half?

BK: It's the so-called "Care Bears," and they're not talking to anybody.

ET: Your stage show is so elaborate. Why?

JF: We owe all of that to a woman named Doris Cunningham. She makes all of our instruments and recording equipment. The drum machine she built for us is eighty feet tall.

BK: We're very excited about the high-tech equipment that's coming out now. There's a lot of possibilities that haven't been explored by us—especially in rock and roll.

JF: We've got a lot of equipment now. The more we have the more valid our music becomes. It's as simple as that.

ET: Tell me about the time you had "butter on stage?"

BK: I think you're referring to a show we did on March 5th, 1968.

JF: With Canned Heat?

JL: Right. The Ontario Civic Center. My ears are still ringing. (All laugh.) We made more money that night than...

JF: ...than we thought we did.

BK: The whole thing is tied up in litigation right now. I don't think we'd better get into that.

ET: Many of your songs are really, really funny. Is that on purpose?

JL: Yes. We like to leave them with a little something extra. We like to make them laugh, make them cry.

JF: We like to make them do other things too. Feel like they're on stage with us, pretend they're at a party, pretend their skin isn't just a blanket made of meat.

JL: Right. We just want to remind everyone how it really is out there. Like, Elvis has left the auditorium, you know?

BK: As if they need to be told that. I mean, Elvis left the auditorium for good in '54.

JF: Right. But we're still here (points at forehead).

ET: You've stopped using other people's ideas in your songs.

JL: Not just other people's. If you listen to our last record you'll notice we've also stopped using original ideas.

ET: Why?

JL: Because we decided to move on. We wanted to get out of music—get away from sound altogether.

ET: Your video reflects that, doesn't it?

JF: (bobbing head) I think so. I think our video has something very new and very exciting to offer, but certain members of the self-proclaimed rock establishment have a "heads-in-the-sand" attitude.

BK: They thought a silent video would be too difficult to market.

JL: They kept saying things like, "This is pointless," and, "You guys are insane."

JF: We showed them.

ET: Many bands lose all their friends after they become famous. Has this happened to you?

JF: No. I figure your friends are always what you want them to be (shatters glass against wall). I guess this interview is over (leaves room).

ET: Do you have any plans for the future?

JL: I'm very happy with the way things are right now. Everything's fine. Why are you asking me that?

BK: I think you better go now. I hope this answers all your questions.