They Might Be Giants Back to 'Adult' Pop

Oakland County Daily Tribune, September 15, 2011
by Gary Graff

They Might Be Giants decided to grow up again on its latest album, Join Us.

The New York group hasn't abandoned its sly and sardonic sense of humor, mind you. But after spending the past few years focusing on children's music-- winning a Grammy Award for 2009's Here Come the 123s--the members decided it was time to make their first "adult" pop album since 2007.

"It's not like we had a premeditated plan to do a 'return to our basics' kind of album," says John Flansburgh, who co-founded TMBG with John Linnell in 1982. "It's just that doing something that spotlights our band, which is a pretty slamming band, always appeals to us.

"So I think the truth of Join Us is it's just direct. There's not a lot of over-production; it's really a victory of self-restraint. We're probably most excited about how excited the world seems to be with it. It's already sold a crazy number of copies, much more than our last adult album sold at this point. It seems like the stars are aligning for us right now."

Could some of those buyers be kids lured into the TMBG fold by Here Come the 123s, Here Come the ABCs, Here Comes Science and No! perhaps? Flansburgh, 51, isn't sure — and given the more profane nature of some of the songs on Join Us, he kind of hopes not.

"Y'know, we don't know who it is," he says. "We don't ask too many questions; we just shuffle along. It's probably some of our kids' audience, although we haven't gotten too many complaints about the language from them. I mean, the opening line of the album has (a euphimism for penis) in the first line, so it's not hard to figure out this isn't one of the kids albums, y'know?"