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John Linnell of They Might Be Giants Talks Tech

CmdrTaco posted more than 2 years ago | from the birdhouse-in-my-trs80 dept.

Music 111

harrymcc writes "We've published Benj Edwards' wide-ranging interview with John Linnell, one half of the 30-year musical partnership known as They Might Be Giants. He talks about his life as a technology user--from his first encounter with the Radio Shack TRS-80 to his mastery of Asteroids to the band's long-time use of Macs to its pioneering experiments on online music."

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111 comments

TMBG... (4, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | more than 2 years ago | (#36424804)

often referred to as "The Thinking Man's Drinking Band."

Nerds everywhere thank them for giving us intelligent music in a time when the soul of music has nearly vanished.

Re:TMBG... (1, Insightful)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 2 years ago | (#36425006)

in a time when the soul of music has nearly vanished.

Okay old man. Every generation since the 30s has said this about "new" music.

Re:TMBG... (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#36425026)

Yes, but in the '80s it was true.

Re:TMBG... (1)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 2 years ago | (#36425128)

Just as it was true in the 60s, 70s, 90s, 00s and today?

Re:TMBG... (3)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#36425528)

No, just the '80s.

Re:TMBG... (1)

LizardKing (5245) | more than 2 years ago | (#36427334)

I know it's all subjective, but for me the very late 1970s and early 1980s were when most of my favourite music was created - music that I discovered retrospectively. Post punk, new wave, analogue synth stuff and "indie" bands such as The Chameleons or New Order. What I tend to find when people have the "80s music was shit" attitude is that I reel off a few band names from that era, and they respond with "apart from them". That goes round in circles until we've eventually agreed that there are a huge number of great bands and songs from that time. Whereas for me, subjectively, the early to mid 1970s look like a barren period of shite music ...

Re:TMBG... (1)

VanGarrett (1269030) | more than 2 years ago | (#36428744)

Music saw a great deal of innovation from the 1960's through the 1980's. Sometime in the 1990's, however, the music industry as a whole shifted away from music as a primary product, to sex appeal as a primary product. Rock as a wide genre hasn't been hit quite so hard in this respect, but then, that style of music has seen dramatic shifts, as well.

Re:TMBG... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36429816)

Pop music, sure. But home studios started becoming possible in the 90s, and the amount of readily available fantastic non-mainstream music since then has absolutely exploded. Anyone complaining about the state of music today is an uninquisitive moron.

Re:TMBG... (2)

korean.ian (1264578) | more than 2 years ago | (#36426462)

If all you listened to was commercial radio then sure. But the '80s saw bands like R.E.M. (who I don't especially like, but at least weren't cranking out formulaic pop), Bauhaus, Husker Du, Butthole Surfers, My Bloody Valentine, the Pixies, Cocteau Twins, the Smiths, Violent Femmes, New Order (yes yes, they were just a continuation of Joy Division - except they weren't really when you compare the two) come to fame of some degree and the list goes on and on. The bands I listed there were fairly big bands too, with the exception of the Surfers, who didn't really gain prominence until the '90s.
There's shit in every era and there's good in every era; what's truly rare is greatness.

Re:TMBG... (1)

Moryath (553296) | more than 2 years ago | (#36425048)

There's a reason even the "top 40" format radio stations don't play music newer than 10 years old any more :P

Think about it.

Re:TMBG... (1)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 2 years ago | (#36425338)

That's funny.

Z103.5 [z1035.com] plays almost entirely new music. They frequently play not-yet-promoted music, and have a good collection of DJs who do live mixes on the air as well as at the local club scene here in Toronto.

If you claim to be a top-40 station and you're not playing the top-40 list, you're just lying.

Re:TMBG... (1)

sunfly (1248694) | more than 2 years ago | (#36425374)

I have noticed this too. On several occasions tried to find good new music on the radio with little luck.

Of course good music is still being made. Radio stations tend to target people with cash, and although teens buy the most music, they do not buy the most cars, houses, stuff that their advertisers are selling. So they play music that was hot when the generation they are targeting were teens.

I think there is something else at play as well (no pun intended) regarding the people that push songs to radio stations and stations that supposedly play new music, but I'll leave that conspiracy theory alone.

Re:TMBG... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36426414)

I think there is something else at play as well (no pun intended) regarding the people that push songs to radio stations and stations that supposedly play new music, but I'll leave that conspiracy theory alone.

Good luck making a request for a song released under Creative Commons when dealing with a broadcast radio station. I don't think I need to say much more than that.

But that's not much of a problem as long as you have a connection through which you can download or stream playlists from YouTube, Archive.org (audio), ccMixter or similar sites.

Re:TMBG... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36425928)

Sorry to hear your soul for new music has nearly vanished. I still find tons of creative minds and interesting concepts in music. Some of them have been around one hell of a lot longer than TMBGs and keep evolving.
 
And this isn't to say TMBGs is a bad band. I've gone to the shows and they're a good time but your limited interest in music shouldn't be mistaken for the lack of innovation or intelligence in modern music.

Re:TMBG... (1)

bograt (943491) | more than 2 years ago | (#36426710)

"The soul of music has nearly vanished"? Surely, you must be joking. Either that, or you haven't been listening to enough Tween Wave [southparkstudios.com] .

Re:TMBG... (1)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 2 years ago | (#36430186)

"The soul of music has nearly vanished"? Surely, you must be joking. Either that, or you haven't been listening to enough Tween Wave [southparkstudios.com] .

That stuff just sounds like shit to me.

Wow (1)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 2 years ago | (#36424806)

They're still around? Hadn't heard about them since High School (which would have been about 20 years ago). My favorite is still 'Istanbul Not Constantinople'.

Re:Wow (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36424868)

Yes. Most notably, they have been doing a lot of kids' music for Disney lately. Regardless of what you think of Disney, the music is excellent, especially the album "Here Comes Science," with music that is engaging and lyrics that are not at all dumbed down.

Re:Wow (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 2 years ago | (#36425062)

Did you not see Caroline? Instantly when I heard the Other Father song I knew who did it.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36425492)

Yep. When the Other Father song came on, I said, "Oh my, That's TMBG!" They've got a way with music that is really fun.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36425112)

From Tiny Toons, right?

Re:Wow (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36425400)

Theme from The Daily Show, Grammy-winning kids' albums, a new regular album coming out next month (they do about one every three years), a tour just starting up with Jonathan "Still Alive" Coulton as the opener -- yeah, they're pretty relevant.

If "Istanbul" is your favorite, I pity you your ignorance and envy you your opportunity to still discover them.

Re:Wow (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 2 years ago | (#36427342)

Coulton as the opener?

Can you provide more details on that? No mention of him on their upcoming calendar, and Coulton's calendar at http://www.jonathancoulton.com/shows/ [jonathancoulton.com] only shows one event today in Amsterdam.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36427616)

http://www.theymightbegiants.com/news/tmbg-welcome-jonathan-coulton-aboard-for-join-us-tour/

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36428476)

It does seem to be hard to find this info, but TMBG announced it on Facebook last week. And the link above goes to the hard-to-locate news item on their site.
https://www.facebook.com/#!/theymightbegiants

Re:Wow (3, Interesting)

Machtyn (759119) | more than 2 years ago | (#36425542)

Well, crud, all the good answers given to you are from ACs. I'm not answering to get cred, just so that people will see the good answers (for those that filter out the AC posts).

Yes, they are still around. My young girls basically learned to count from "Here Comes the 123s". "Here Comes the ABCs" and "Here Comes the Science" are both very good. The 123s really introduce some advanced information (0 is both big and small, 1 is everything and breaking it apart doesn't make sense in certain applications.)

They've done music for a lot of Disney projects, TV shows, and movies - Mickey Mouse House, Boss of Me, Coraline (a small ditty), and many others. They are currently going on tour for their latest release.

As one AC posted, "If 'Istanbul' is your favorite, I pity you your ignorance and envy you your opportunity to still discover them."

Re:Wow (1)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 2 years ago | (#36425590)

I guess because I don't have kids and don't watch much TV it shouldn't be too surprising I've lost track of them. I need to catch up I suppose (or have some kids).

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36426252)

As the AC who said that, I hope my comment wasn't too harsh. I only meant "ignorance" in its purest sense, being unaware of something.

Their output for the last decade has been very kid-oriented -- kids' albums, music for Disney shows -- but they also released three regular albums in that time, with another releasing in July. They've become decidedly more political since the start of the Bush era. Find "I'm Impressed" on YouTube and be blown away.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36426846)

I really liked "I'm Impressed" - great music with an intriguing agenda. Though, I'm unimpressed with their politics (Bush is evil) and anti-religion ("God is a nice story" - a line from a song in Here Comes the Science) stance.

Re:Wow (1)

SomePgmr (2021234) | more than 2 years ago | (#36426564)

When a geek friend has their first kid, they get the Audio/DVD version of Here Comes Science. The kids love the videos and the friends love the songs themselves. Non-awful kids music is a rare thing. :)

Re:Wow (1)

IMightB (533307) | more than 2 years ago | (#36427330)

My first is due to pop out in Oct. and I've put The 123/Science and ABC's in our registry. Along with a couple of other ones such as Bed, Bed, Bed and No! Looking forward to them immensely.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36427976)

"NO!" often gets overlooked, since it doesn't have the "Here Comes" theme. It's a little bizarre but has some really good tunes on it, plus a series of Flash "games" to go along with most of the songs. I've been singing "Lazyhead and Sleepybones" at carious kids' bedtime for darn near a decade now.

Hmmm.... (-1, Troll)

SirAstral (1349985) | more than 2 years ago | (#36424830)

I see a lot of people that like to talk about themselves and their use of "Macs". It has been my experience that they also tend to identify themselves with "human rights" campaigns and ideologies. Would any tree-hugger care to explain for me their obvious willingness to overlook Foxconn's business practices and most importantly their treatment of employees just to support "Macs"?

Left and right I go on the planet, inter-webs, and about my daily life on planet earth and mainly find only sheeple of amazing varieties and multitudes!

Re:Hmmm.... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36424906)

Not sure what your point is here. Are you saying it's hypocritical to advocate for "human rights" while purchasing/using (or even evangelizing) Apple products?

First of all, it's worth nothing that Foxconn factories make more than just Apple products. All the major manufacturers use Foxconn or similar factories with similar working conditions (actually, according to some reports Apple puts slightly more effort than other companies at insuring that worker standards are decent, but let's ignore that for now). So, basically, this isn't an "Apple" issue, this is a "technology" issue.

So, is it hypocritical to advocate for "human rights" while purchasing/using (or even evangelizing) technology? That's a tough question. Ultimately all aspects of our modern living take a toll on the environment, and, unfortunately, on other people. I suppose one could be blithely selfish and simply not care about other people's rights or standards of living. That would be less hypocritical, I suppose, but certainly not more moral.

There are also the usual progress-based arguments like: "it's better for those workers to have some kind of job rather than none", or "technology helps us be more efficient and helps us lift more people out of poverty", or "everyone is entitled to some luxuries, the key is being reasonable in one's impact", and many many others. What's my point here? My point is that there are some legitimate moral dilemmas here, and we should certainly be debating them, and figuring out a good path forward. But painting a caricature wherein "Mac users" are fundamentally and universally hypocritical (moreso than other tech users?) is a complete waste of time.

Re:Hmmm.... (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | more than 2 years ago | (#36425108)

Not sure what your point is here. Are you saying it's hypocritical to advocate for "human rights" while purchasing/using (or even evangelizing) Apple products?

That's about the size of it, yes.

Re:Hmmm.... (1)

SirAstral (1349985) | more than 2 years ago | (#36425950)

My intent is not to paint Mac users as more hypocritical over other tech users. As a Techie myself I know that hypocrisy is filled to the brim in my career. I do not advance any OS over the other one because I know better. You can configure just about any OS to be ROCK SOLID if you are capable enough. Each OS has a pro and a con that you simply need to be aware of in your considerations.

It is indeed hypocritical to advance any cause while knowingly supporting against it with your money. Foxconn's dealings are not much of a secret these days, it would be hard for me to believe that "Mac" fans are ignorant of this.

For me I actually have more problems with Apple than I do Foxconn. I do not hold a company responsible for people that commit suicide as the person is killing them self. There are more problems than meets the eye here, however knowing that it is common for person of the left persuasion to blame Foxconn more than the self destroying, it is only fair to ask why this dishonesty continues.

Most people had Microsoft because they think they are a tyrant of a company, well Apply has them beat by a long shot. You can't develop anything for their platform without Apple getting a slice of your pie. You can develop all sorts of things for most of the other OS's without them even interfering! Microsoft may not be an open source platform but they are far more open than Apple, which is why MS won the desktop war.

Re:Hmmm.... (2)

imamac (1083405) | more than 2 years ago | (#36424922)

You know Foxconn makes parts for virtually all major computer companies, right? It's almost impossible to avoid. That doesn't make poor treatment of empoyess acceptable, but singleing out Apple is a little silly.

Re:Hmmm.... (1)

SirAstral (1349985) | more than 2 years ago | (#36425754)

The problem is that they typically go out of their way to make mention of Mac usage. If you are going to emphasize something then you are by proxy saying all others are lesser!

The primary point is this... if they are going to go out of their way to fan boi apple, then why are they also not deluging Apple with requests or even protests of their business dealings with Foxconn? I like my standards served with a double portion waiter!

Also, I might ask the same question of you. If your only source of cash is from a person that robs a bank does it make you morally absolved? Just because Foxconn is the only choice does not make you less guilty. In the end your $$ goes to provide for their continued existence. The additional issue is, as I said the Intellectual dishonesty of peddling one ideology while supporting against your ideology with your own money!

Let provide and example of what I mean. I abhor DRM so much that I have refused to purchase games that contain any form of it that requires me to check in with a remote server for activation. They never get my money and I never get to play the game, unless I pirate it. But the short story is this, I do not give my money to companies that I provide activist attention against! Now perhaps if more people in this world had the temerity to act upon their beliefs the way I do, we would not be giving money to companies that like to abuse everyone for that extra penny.

But in the end, I do realize how hard it is to not carry that iPhone around and fan boi for certain companies. I keep only a basic prepaid phone for contact and emergency purposes, I do not give my money to Apple or any company that I knowingly have a grievance with, unlike the vast majority of intellectually dishonest members of society!

Re:Hmmm.... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#36425998)

A better example is, if you do business with companies that caused and profited from the economy collapse, (All the big financial institutions) are you absolved of the crimes of causing the financial collapse?

Typically those kind of people that point out others loosely connected hypocrisy are themselves a huge hypocrite in almost everything they do. they point out other peoples flaws to help hide their huge glaring flaws.

Re:Hmmm.... (1)

SirAstral (1349985) | more than 2 years ago | (#36427484)

By your reasoning all accusers are guilty of the same misdeeds as the accused. Fantastic logic there!

The key here is KNOWINGLY contributing your money to a cause that you campaign against. If you are ignorant of what a company is doing I do not expect you to know better neither can you be blamed for hypocrisy. Now, despite that, most fans are well aware of the dealings of those they worship, therefore they cannot be expected to be as ignorant as others.

If you espouse "Human Rights", then make it a point to Fan Boi Apple, then you are most likely guilty of hypocrisy. If you don't care about the workers at Foxconn, or do care and don't buy Apple then you are not a hypocrite in this matter. One also cannot be a hypocrite in ignorance, but they are not blameless in will full ignorance.

For non-sheeple my logic is easy to grasp.

Re:Hmmm.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36426170)

The problem is that they typically go out of their way to make mention of Mac usage. If you are going to emphasize something then you are by proxy saying all others are lesser!

The primary point is this... if they are going to go out of their way to fan boi apple, then why are they also not deluging Apple with requests or even protests of their business dealings with Foxconn? I like my standards served with a double portion waiter!

Also, I might ask the same question of you. If your only source of cash is from a person that robs a bank does it make you morally absolved? Just because Foxconn is the only choice does not make you less guilty. In the end your $$ goes to provide for their continued existence. The additional issue is, as I said the Intellectual dishonesty of peddling one ideology while supporting against your ideology with your own money!

Let provide and example of what I mean. I abhor DRM so much that I have refused to purchase games that contain any form of it that requires me to check in with a remote server for activation. They never get my money and I never get to play the game, unless I pirate it. But the short story is this, I do not give my money to companies that I provide activist attention against! Now perhaps if more people in this world had the temerity to act upon their beliefs the way I do, we would not be giving money to companies that like to abuse everyone for that extra penny.

But in the end, I do realize how hard it is to not carry that iPhone around and fan boi for certain companies. I keep only a basic prepaid phone for contact and emergency purposes, I do not give my money to Apple or any company that I knowingly have a grievance with, unlike the vast majority of intellectually dishonest members of society!

Must be nice to be hypocrisy-free in your bubble there. Your self-righteous devotion to virtue is impressive. Tell me, when do you think your moral perfection will reach critical mass and the light of your divine righteousness will guide the world to the One True Path which you are kind enough to forge for us lowly imperfect hypocritical troglodytes--who are cursed with the unbearable temerity to not immediately appreciate Your Word?

Re:Hmmm.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36425018)

and mainly find only sheeple of amazing varieties and multitudes!

And of course, you're better than that.

Holy cow! What a douche you are! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36425176)

Wow. Tree hugger. Sheeple. Foxconn.

You should work for either Fox News or MSNBC because you've mastered the dark art of pushing buttons and filtering reality without actually saying anything intelligent.

Re:Holy cow! What a douche you are! (1)

SirAstral (1349985) | more than 2 years ago | (#36427542)

Truth hurts?

This is not a button pressing campaign, its a point out the double standards campaign. I am genuinely interested in at least one of you actually describing me a real valid reason for this double standard without a "we have no choice" excuse.

It's the same question I have of everyone that says, "I am moving out if so-and-so is elected".

Yep... just like normal, all sheeple mouth and no brass to back it up. I really am an equal opportunity offender!

Re:Hmmm.... (1)

sorak (246725) | more than 2 years ago | (#36425368)

And yet, here you are, taking advantage of a technology that is (for the purposes of your discussion) identical to that that you criticize them for enjoying. Now, maybe you don't care about human rights. Then, nobody could call you a hypocrite. So, you can be one of four things:

1. Someone who lives "off the grid" and never has any contact with the outside world, period. We all know that isn't the case.
2. Indifferent to the suffering of others.
3. You feel bad, but do nothing about it, because you don't want to be a hypocrite.
4. You do more about the problem than they do. (Would that make you a bigger hypocrite?)

Re:Hmmm.... (1)

SirAstral (1349985) | more than 2 years ago | (#36425822)

The point is revealing people for what they are in that they have values that they campaign for but spend their money against.

I do not begrudge those who purchase apple products but I do begrudge those who would campaign for human rights and then make an effort to point out their use of apple products. You see the devil is in the details and how you represent yourself is important. As long as we let people do this without pointing out their double standards what hope do we have of improving things eh?

Re:Hmmm.... (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 2 years ago | (#36425498)

Would any tree-hugger care to explain for me their obvious willingness to overlook Foxconn's business practices and most importantly their treatment of employees just to support "Macs"?

I, for one, only use white-box no-name parts whose manufacturer cannot possibly be found, let alone pressured for better working conditions! That'll teach Apple!

Re:Hmmm.... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#36425962)

And yet EVERYTHING you watch on TV is edited on a mac using "Final Cut Pro" as are most movies you watch and love.

The MAC is prevalent in your life. You just are far too uneducated to see it.

Embrace the MAC for it is the path to your salvation....

TRS-80 sound (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36424870)

The base TRS-80 model 1 had next to no sound abilities, but the Orchestra-80 provided what was for the day, advanced sound.

http://www.trs-80.org/orchestra-80/

I owned one of those :). It seems woefully primitive by today's standards, but for the day, it was quite marvelous to hear music coming from my computer.

Re:TRS-80 sound (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36425164)

Um, yes it did. People created sound and even voice synthesis using the cassette output.

TRS-80 was the #1 computer of late 70s (1, Informative)

commodore6502 (1981532) | more than 2 years ago | (#36424898)

I'm not surprised he used a TRS-80 as his "first". It was the best-selling computer of 1978, 79 and 80*.

"If you went back to that time and told yourself, âoeIn thirty years, weâ(TM)re going to be distributing all of our music through this device,â what would you think?" - John Linnell says he would not be surprised. At the time, people were already recording songs on their Ataris, Commodores, and Amigas and distributing them via the BBS and Usenet.

>>>John Linnell's first PC, the Macintosh Plus (1986).

IMHO he would have been better-off buying an Atari ST or Amiga. Like Andy Warhol and Disney Animation did. The Mac Plus wasn't very strong for video or sound.

*1981-82 was Atari 400/800
*1983-86 was Commodore 64
*1987 onward was IBM PC and clones

The sun... (2)

broginator (1955750) | more than 2 years ago | (#36424912)

...is a mass of incandescent gas, a gigantic nuclear furnace.

^my new favorite TMBG song

Re:The sun... (1)

bberens (965711) | more than 2 years ago | (#36425028)

I taught my 2 year old the chorus and first verse as a lullaby. She obviously doesn't understand a lot of the vocabulary but she can recite it perfectly. I know most people probably don't care, but that song and TMBG is a helpful part of introducing my daughter to the wonderful world of science.

Re:The sun... (3, Informative)

johnnysaucepn (1263108) | more than 2 years ago | (#36425038)

...is a mass of incandescent gas, a gigantic nuclear furnace.

^my new favorite TMBG song

Good song. But not written by them. http://tmbw.net/wiki/Hy_Zaret_And_Lou_Singer [tmbw.net] On the other hand, "Why Does the Sun Really Shine? (The Sun Is a Miasma of Incandescent Plasma)" was. "The sun is a miasma Of incandescent plasma The sun's not simply made out of gas The sun is a quagmire It's not made of fire Forget what you've been told in the past"

TMBG (1)

jschmitz (607083) | more than 2 years ago | (#36425044)

They are an awesome band and really fun to see live - they are pretty darn good players too - cheers

Re:TMBG (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 2 years ago | (#36425094)

They're fun to see live when they finally got on stage. The shows I've seen have always started really, really late, to the point where it was kind of insulting. I remember one show an hour after they were supposed to start a pizza delivery guy showed up to deliver pizzas backstage. Suffice it to say, it was a while after that before they came on.

Re:TMBG (3, Funny)

bsane (148894) | more than 2 years ago | (#36425332)

They get lost driving around...

Re:TMBG (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 2 years ago | (#36425398)

/me wonders if that was wasted on nomadic....

...but the signal keeps fading no matter which way they go...

Re:TMBG (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36426998)

There should be a big crinkle, assuming this map is right..

Re:TMBG (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 2 years ago | (#36427392)

For whatever reason, I've never really gotten into their recorded shows.

However, back in high school, I had friends that REALLY wanted to see them live, and so TMBG was the first live concert I went to in my life. While I still don't like their recordings too much - their live shows are amazing.

Especially "The Sun is Hot" - the recorded version is "meh", almost boring... But when they play it live you have no choice but to begin bouncing all over the room, it's just THAT good.

Another commented claimed that Jonathan Coulton is opening for them on their current tour. I cannot find any confirming evidence for this, but if it's true - I'm hitting a few concerts this summer!

Re:TMBG (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36427704)

Another commented claimed that Jonathan Coulton is opening for them on their current tour. I cannot find any confirming evidence for this, but if it's true - I'm hitting a few concerts this summer!

Yep:

http://www.theymightbegiants.com/news/tmbg-welcome-jonathan-coulton-aboard-for-join-us-tour

Their music? (0)

sunfly (1248694) | more than 2 years ago | (#36425508)

Never heard them, so went to their website hoping to preview some fun music. After a couple minutes gave up and went to youtube. Not bad, but why would a band make it so hard to listen to and buy their music?

Re:Their music? (3, Informative)

TexVex (669445) | more than 2 years ago | (#36425788)

Back in their early days they used to run something called "Dial-A-Song". It was basically just an answering machine with one of their songs recorded as the greeting. They would switch out the song often.

One time the machine recorded part of a two-way conversation when a woman named Gloria called the machine to listen to it with someone else on the line. TMBG released that recording as an unnamed track on their "Miscellaneous T" b-side compilation album. There is a transcript here [tmbw.net] .

Ultimate Combo... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36425520)

The Big Bang Theory's theme song is performed by TMBG - a geek match made in heaven!

Re:Ultimate Combo... (2)

Inner_Child (946194) | more than 2 years ago | (#36425594)

Um... No, no it's not. That's Barenaked Ladies. The content could make it easy to confuse, I suppose...

Re:Ultimate Combo... (2)

Inner_Child (946194) | more than 2 years ago | (#36425606)

Forgot to mention, they *did* do the theme song for Malcolm in the Middle ("Boss of Me").

Re:Ultimate Combo... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36426066)

And "The Daily Show"

Re:Ultimate Combo... (0)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#36426040)

Nope BNL did that one... and it's got some inadequacies in it so TMBG would have never done it or even written it.

My basic rule on nerd band awesomeness (3)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#36425522)

Does it include an accordion? If so, that makes them awesome.

Some examples: TMBG, Weird Al, Moxy Fruvous (back when they were still together), MC Frontalot (listen to his backing tracks carefully, it's there).

Re:My basic rule on nerd band awesomeness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36427454)

Does it include an accordion? If so, that makes them awesome.

Some examples: TMBG, Weird Al, Moxy Fruvous (back when they were still together), MC Frontalot (listen to his backing tracks carefully, it's there).

On one of our first dates, I took my girlfriend (now wife) to see them play at the local county fair. Upon starting their first number, she turned to me with a puzzled look in her face. "He's playing the... accordion?"

"Yes," I replied. "No one else can play the rock accordion like that!"

They Might Not Be Remembered Outside the US (0)

LizardKing (5245) | more than 2 years ago | (#36425540)

Must be an American thing that so many people here seem to have heard of them - this side of the Atlantic TMBG are only vaguely remembered as being a novelty band from two decades ago.

Re:They Might Not Be Remembered Outside the US (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36425924)

Funny, "Birdhouse In Your Soul" was in the top 100 in the UK about a year ago, due to a shoe commercial. They play festivals there quite often
http://www.theymightbegiants.com/calendar/

Re:They Might Not Be Remembered Outside the US (1)

LizardKing (5245) | more than 2 years ago | (#36427186)

Unfortunately songs have to go top 40 to stand any chance of mainstream radio airplay in th UK. Even then, most of the radio stattions have such a narrow playlist that a lot of music genres don't get a look in. That's why there was such a fuss when the BBC planned to close down Radio 6, as it was one of the few stations that have an eclectic mix of music. The furore suggests that there's a large audience out there who are sick of BBC Radio One and the identikit commercial stations ...

Re:They Might Not Be Remembered Outside the US (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#36426088)

Yup kind of like that one hit wonder from great Britain called the Rolling Stones...

Just joking... TMBG is not a mainstream band but an intentional eclectic type of band. Kind of like Peter Gabriel.. Great artist, just went off the deep end into the land of wierd and only a underground group now listens to him.

Re:They Might Not Be Remembered Outside the US (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36427184)

At first glance, they can appear as a novelty band (with songs like Particle Man and Istanbul), but they're really an art-rock band with five or six 'classic' albums between '86 and '96 or so, and an almost countless number of memorable songs. I cringe when people put them alongside Weird Al, because it puts an undue emphasis on their humor or implies they do satire (which they don't). Most of their songs are multi-layered, and the humor often counterpoints darkness, sadness, sweetness (Ana Ng) or just experimentation (Fingertips), although often times they are just having fun (Istanbul) or being geeky (James K. Polk). There's a great documentary called Gigantic that music fans might find interesting. That said, if I hadn't discovered them in my late teens, early twenties (back in '94 or so), I don't know if I would ever have gotten into them as much as I did.

Museum of Idiots (1)

TexVex (669445) | more than 2 years ago | (#36425610)

Here's a short clip [youtube.com] of Linnell with accordion and singing Museum of Idiots. Love the horn section. Youtube also has videos with the studio version of this song.

They built this whole neighborhood out of wood, out of wood
I guess I'll still be around when they burn, burn it down
I will be standing around when they burn it down
Here in the Museum of Idiots

Honey I'm there when you need me, please believe me, please believe me
I'll still be right where you left me, if you manage to forget me
Where we met is where you may forget
Here in the Museum of Idiots

If you and I had any brains, we wouldn't be in this place

Chop me up into pieces, if it pleases, if it pleases
And when the chopping is through, every piece will say I love you
Every piece of me will say I love you
Here in the Museum of Idiots

Every piece of me will say I love you, you, you
Here in the Museum of Idiots

Missing question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36425620)

Now you have a musician that's at least a bit computer/internet-savvy. Not a word about his take on copyright terms, copyright extortionists, youtube-video-deletions-because-of-a-song-playing-in-the-background, etc. A missed opportunity.

Guess you can't please everybody... (1)

CaptainCaustic (746320) | more than 2 years ago | (#36425798)

The author of the article seems to want to fit the band into a mold in which it doesn't belong, but that's the way life is. Here's what an " enlightened" employee of /. had to say about their latest kids album: http://pudge.net/glob/2009/09/tmbg-pushes-atheist-propaganda.html [pudge.net]

Re:Guess you can't please everybody... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36426674)

interesting... as Birdhouse in Your Soul clearly has a theist agenda

Re:Guess you can't please everybody... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36429346)

In 20 years of listening to it, I've never picked up an this "clear" theist agenda. It's about a nightlight.

Re:Guess you can't please everybody... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36432260)

It wasn't obvious to me at all for years... and then it just hit me, and now I can't hear it any other way: a child's introduction to the OT god (Blue Canary/B.C./electricity/lighting bolts). I was skeptical at first, figured I was projecting, because I thought TMBG, like most Jews, were atheists. After realizing that it might be the best interpretation (and I am really not all that religious), I went looking around and found a number of posts online that had at least pieces of what I interpreted.

Here is an over the top analysis, very TMBGish. [blogspot.com]
continues [blogspot.com]

Granted, John Linnell has said:

I mean, for example, "Birdhouse In Your Soul" is a song about a nightlight. That's it. It's written from the perspective of a nightlight serenading the occupant of its room. The thing is, there are so many syllables in the songs that we have to come up with something to fill the spaces. So it ends up being kind of Gilbert and Sullivany.

But what does he know? Like many artists, he's just a conduit. Often what is said goes far beyond who said what. Then again, the lyrics are so... contrived, not in a bad way, but the way many of TMBG songs seem to be constructed of pure (sometimes twisted) logic, musical mathematics, I really think he's simply avoiding controversy (because that's the way he seems to roll... either its fun or gtfo).

John != hacker (1)

ferrisoxide.com (1935296) | more than 2 years ago | (#36429166)

The article seems to be trying to position John as some kind of hacker/musician. The question on when did you first write computer programs could have had the same answer as when did you last write computer programs.

I love.. love.. love They Might Be Giants - trekked across town on foot one day so I could see them play in a little record store (place was packed, so I never saw them in the store.. but I heard them). As noted elsewhere, if you've never listened to them you're in for a treat.

Re:John != hacker (1)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 2 years ago | (#36430318)

hacker does not mandate computer programming young'un.

You? You don't know the 1st thing about either (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36431996)

All you know about, is trolling others, and you even admit it you online piece of trolling trash http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1907528&cid=34543612 [slashdot.org] Care to produce your CSC degree, gmhowell? You know - the one you do NOT have?? You're also a big talking bullshitter. Fact.

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