Sunday, August 12, 2007

Five Questions from Moni: They Might Be Giants - The Else

So our Austrian bureau sent in these five questions about They Might Be Giants several weeks ago, and they have been collecting dust along with all the other music items we've been meaning to write. Once again, the three w's -- work, Wii and woman -- have grabbed the lion share of our time and blogging has been on the backburner. But we did pick up the new TMBG album -- The Else -- so it's time to answer Moni while we try to recover from our latest Mario Strikers Charged wrist injury.

1. What, where, when and why was RIB's first contact with They Might Be Giants? What happened afterwards?

We didn't see the Johns live until college, but we were introduced to them the summer before freshman year of high school, if we remember correctly, when a friend (Zared Goldfarb, better known at the time as Ziggy) at summer camp turned us on to Flood. We fell in love with it immediately, and soon we were scowering Poughkeepsie department stores in search of a prosthetic forehead to wear on our real head. We never found one, but we did wear fake wigs and dance to Istanbul (Not Constantinople) with Ziggy in the camp talent show. Things haven't been quite the same since.

2. What can I imagine a typical TMBG show to be like?

We saw them so many freaking times while at NYU that we got our fill and have only seen them once or twice since. Possibly the best was getting to see John Linnell perform "State Songs" -- our 1999 album of the year -- with the State Songs band. Made us all proud to be Americans. In general, you can expect a few surprises -- one show they had an entire lineup of guests singing their songs (with Gordon Gano of Violent Femmes and Frank Black among them). Several times we saw them bring out "Stick", which made a booming noise when pounded on the stage, and Exquisite Dead Guy was performed by two ventriloquist dummy heads on the end of long poles. Basically, though, Linnell hangs out at the keyboard and Flans plays the part of nerd rock guitar god.

3. How do you tell someone who's never heard of TMBG why they really need to listen to this band?

We would never even speak to anyone who hasn't heard of TMBG.

4. In a sparkly shiny perfect world, what would the new album sound like in RIB's opinion?

Now that we have it, we'd like to say it would, in a perfect world, sound more like the bonus disc that comes with it -- Cast Your Pod to the Wind, which has some of (though not nearly all) the best selections from their podcast. Not all the songs hit home, but there are some gems that have that quirky quality that is lost on The Else, which is a bit too slick and over-produced. Once upon a time, TMBG recorded crazy songs for fun, then put them on their albums. Now they show up on their podcasts instead. CYPTTW is free, but it'd almost be worth it at full price just for I'm Your Boyfriend Now, the funniest stalker song ever. Too bad Miniature Sidewalk Whirlwind and It Was a Very Good Year are missing, as is the commentary version of (She Was A) Hotel Detective in the Future. On the album proper, the only song we find ourselves listening to regularly is Upside Down Frown, which reminds us of TMBG's second career as brilliant children's song writers.

RIB's 'Perfect' Tracklist for The New TMBG Album (in no particular order):

Sense Around
I'm Your Boyfriend Now
Miniature Sidewalk Whirlwind
It Was a Very Good Year
(She Was A) Hotel Detective in the Future
Yeah, The Deranged Millionaire
I'm Impressed
Upside Down Frown
The Cap'm
Why Did You Grow A Beard?
Take Out the Trash
Cast Your Pod to the Wind
Feign Amnesia

Bonus Tracks:
NSA Ringtone
My Other Phone is a Boom Car

5. Where is Particle Man today?

The water got him?


Geoff G. said...

Thank goodness you mentioned "Stick", otherwise you would've gotten a hateful, invective filled comment....uhhh...which this one isn't.

Unknown said...

Oh goody, here they are. I got a follow-up question: now that i love Flood, where do I go next?
i seem to remember someone recommended "Then" as follow-up, but I also remember listening to some songs form "Mink Car" and really liking them.

Now do I have to mention, "Stick", too?

Emily said...

Amen to answer #3

And I believe that applies from the age of two on up.

Anonymous said...

So, sometimes you google your name. Your real name, even though you are collectively still know as Ziggy on both coasts, and you come across blogs about Jekoce camp. I saw TMBG several years ago in Tucson, before your sister lived there, and they were as great as ever. i also got drunk in the motel afterwards and stood in he toilet. The motel was cheap though and the bed was broken so i slept on the floor. i got 10% off the bill becuase of it though.