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They Might Be Giants
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They Might Be Giants

They Might Be Giants (commonly abbreviated to TMBG) is a pop/rock duo consisting of John Flansburgh and John Linnell, collectively known as the two Johns.

TMBG's most famous songs are probably one single from each of their first three albums, "Don't Let's Start" (from They Might Be Giants), "Ana Ng" (from Lincoln), and "Birdhouse in Your Soul" (from Flood), and also "Boss of Me" (theme to the hit television comedy, Malcolm in the Middle).

Table of contents
1 History
2 The band's name
3 Wiki
4 Discography
5 External links


The two Johns first met as children in Lincoln, Massachusetts. They began writing songs together in high school, but they never officially formed a band. Eventually the two went to separate colleges after high school, and Linnell joined The Mundanes, a New Wave group from Rhode Island. The two finally reunited, and moved to Brooklyn to continue their career.

The band began performing their own music, accompanied by a drum machine, and soon became fixtures on the Manhattan underground. Although they had a strong local following, they had a hard time getting a record deal. They did many live performances in New York but when Linnell broke his wrist in a biking accident and Flansburgh's apartment was broken into and all his guitars stolen, they set up the Dial-A-Song system with an answering machine hooked up to a tape of them playing popular songs. It soon caught the eye of Bar/None Records and earned them a review in People magazine.

The duo released their self-titled debut album in 1986, and it became a college radio hit. The video for "Don't Let's Start" became a hit on VH1, earning them a broader following.

In 1988 they released their second album, Lincoln. This album caused a major shock within the US music industry when in its first week of release it knocked U2's The Joshua Tree off the top of the Billboard College Charts (the US music industry's equivalent to the "Alternative/Independent" charts elsewhere in the world) after only a one week stay at the top (most were expecting U2 to be on top for the remainder of the year). The first single from Lincoln, "Ana Ng", reached number 89 on the UK Billboard charts, and was No.1 in the College Charts, earning the attention of major labels.

In 1990, they signed with Elektra Records, and released their third album Flood. Flood earned them a gold album, thanks to the singles "Birdhouse in Your Soul", which reached number 6 in the UK charts, and "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)".

Further interest in the band was generated by a pair of music videos featured in Warner Brothers cartoon Tiny Toon Adventures: "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" and "Particle Man". This reflects the high "kid appeal" that TMBG has, resulting from their often silly or absurd songs and poppy melodies.

Following those successes, Bar/None Records released the B-sides and rarities compilation Miscellaneous T in 1991. The 1992 release of Apollo 18 saw Flansburgh and Linnell attract a supporting band, consisting of former Pere Ubu bassist Tony Maimone and drummer Brian Doherty. Several albums have followed, including John Henry (1994) and Factory Showroom (1996).

The decision to include the TMBG single "Boss of Me" as the theme song to the hit television series Malcolm in the Middle, as well as on the show's compilation CD, has brought a new audience to the band. This owes largely to the use of songs from all of the Giants' previous albums: the infamous punching-the-kid-in-the-wheelchair scene from the first MITM season, for example, was done to the strains of "Pencil Rain" from Lincoln. "Boss of Me" became the band's second top-40 hit in the UK.

In 1999, the duo replaced their tape-machine with a backing band, The Band of Dans, forming a full house line-up of Johns and Dans. Having been with They Might Be Giants for five years now, The Band of Dans is a trio of guys named Dan: guitarist Dan Miller, drummer Dan Hickey and bassist Dan Weinkauf.

It is possible that They Might Be Giants was the first band ever to release an entire album exclusively on the Internet, with 1999's Long Tall Weekend available through Emusic's "TMBG Unlimited" service.

They Might Be Giants have also performed on other movie and television sound tracks, including The Oblongs, the ABC News miniseries Brave New World, and Ed and His Dead Mother. They also perform the theme music ("Dog on Fire", composed by Bob Mould) for the Peabody Award — winning The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. More recently, they composed and performed the music for the TLC series Resident Life and the theme to Courage the Cowardly Dog.

In 2001, they released the album Mink Car and were the subject of a documentary made by AJ Schnack. Titled , the film won rave reviews, several awards, was featured in dozens of film festivals, and was released on DVD.

In 2002 they released their first album "for the whole family", No. They followed it up in 2003 with their first book, an illustrated children's book with an included EP, Bed Bed Bed.

In 2004 they released their first new rock work in years, the EP Indestructible Object. They followed that up with a new album, The Spine, and an associated EP, The Spine Surfs Alone. TMBG teamed up with Homestar Runner to provide music for several cartoons as well as hiring its creators to do an animated music video for their song Experimental Film. They also went on tour again, visiting over 30 cities.

And they started one of the first artist-owned online music stores. There, customers can buy MP3 copies of their music for US$10 an album. By doing this, the band gets to keep money that would otherwise go to record companies. (TMBG MP3 Music Store)

Throughout their career, Brooklyn musical inventor Brian Dewan has been a frequent collaborator and friend of the group. He designed many of their album covers — including the famous podiums of Lincoln — and performs and sings on many of their songs, both in their albums and occasionally live.

The band's name

The band takes its name from a 1971 movie starring George C. Scott and Joanne Woodward (based on the play of the same name written by James Goldman.) In the film, George C. Scott plays Justin Playfair, a man who believes he is Sherlock Holmes; his psychiatrist (last name "Watson") goes along with him in search of Moriarty. Playfair defends Don Quixote's tilting at windmills, saying that the windmills of course were not giants, but thinking they might be shows imagination:

All the best minds used to think the world was flat. But what if it isn't? It might be round. And bread mold might be medicine. If we never looked at things and thought of what might be, why we'd all still be out there in the tall grass with the apes.


This Might Be A Wiki is a wiki for fans of the band. As of February 28, 2004, it contained 2371 pages.



EPs and singles

External links