Giants Mark 30 Years of Rock, Kids' Albums

Arizona Daily Star
Cathalena E. Burch

The family friendly They Might Be Giants has a Monday gig at the Rialto, but leave the kids at home.

The duo of Johns - John Flansburgh and John Linnell - will mark their 30th anniversary as the rock band They Might Be Giants this summer.

Flansburgh thinks the occasion warrants a nice dinner and a toast at a fancy restaurant.

"I feel like it has been one long manic episode. We've never had a break," he said in a recent phone interview. "There's never been a rehab moment, never been a break-up moment. ... And then here we are."

While the duo and their longtime band have drawn acclaim in recent years for a series of children's albums, they swing into the Rialto Theatre on Monday as part of a tour supporting their 2011 album "Join Us" - the pair's first non-children's album since 2007.

We caught up with Flansburgh recently from his home in New York's Catskill Mountains. He chatted about the band's latest album and the family friendly nature of their music in recent years.

Family friendly, but keep the young kids at home: "We are actually playing in a bar, and we believe children should not be in bars. It's a controversial stand, I can tell you. Not everyone agrees on that, but we think bars are no place for children."

We Might Be A Cult: "There's definitely a scenario that we find ourselves in where there are whole families that are They Might Be Giant families, which really makes us feel like we're in a cult. We grew up listening to Alice Cooper and hoping our parents weren't paying that much attention. So it's funny to be in something that has a wider appeal."

Caught between a bar and theater: "We're kind of stuck between the big club and small theater world. We're in the middle, which is a very unusual place. ... It's a slightly uncomfortable place to be because you constantly have to recalibrate what you're doing just in terms of your production. Because making a show work in a big theater requires kind of a show or it's just going to seem like a reading if you don't have lights and stuff."

Back to rock: "We're really back on the good ship Rock at this point. We worked for a really long time on 'Join Us,' and it had a very unusual arc for us. We had done all these kids album and I think between 2005 and 2010 we recorded 120 songs, maybe more. It was just a really hyperactive period of writing and recording. When we started 'Join Us,' we had really lofty goals for what we wanted to achieve. ... We really wanted this album to be a very complete feeling. When you've made 15 albums, you do run the risk of making just another album. At a certain point you have to acknowledge that you kind of have to top yourself."

Music that's fun and quirky, possibly even a little disturbing: "A lot of people love the title" of their latest single, "When Will You Die." "It was instantly appropriated by political people. They just slapped some loathe politician's face across the video and used it as a soundtrack. It's an extreme feeling."