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The Technology of They Might Be Giants 75

Brian Heater writes "I recently did a two-part interview with John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants. It might be of interest, as we discussed the role of technology both in terms of their recording and distribution, from Dial-a-Song, to podcasts, to Myspace. Says John: 'All the song writing we do, we'll be working with a computer, just as a recording device, and maybe we'll be working with a program as a music-generating device. That's just the sound-making devices that are there. A lot of times it's good enough, but when you hear it played on a real instrument, it's much more persuasive and exciting. Or conversely, you've have some lumpy, homemade loop that has oodles of charm that you forget to leave on the final version of the song, because it seemed amateurish. Finding the balance is really the key for us. I'm very excited by the time we live in, but I feel like any time in the post-mechanical era would be good for me.'"
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The Technology of They Might Be Giants

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  • How do you forget to leave (a loop/track) on the final version of (a) song, because it seemed amateurish? Sounds more like you purposefully remove it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      TMBG are known for wordplay, Captain Obvious.
    • He may not have meant that literally. Kind of "I didn't really realize I actually wanted that until now that it's too late".
  • Theme Song! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sg3000 ( 87992 ) * <> on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @07:30PM (#20231409)
    I can imagine there's huge overlap (okay fine, relatively large overlap) between Slashdot readers and fans of TMBG, with their clever lyrics and unusual song topics, such as Mesopotamians [], past presidents [], or even Linux users [].

    So when is Slashdot going to pay They Might Be Giants to do a theme song? Fatboy Slim [] already did one, but there probably aren't as many fans on this board.

    Continuing the them of TMBG using technology, I heard that their song Spider [] was originally created on a Macintosh just moments after they unboxed it. This was back when Apple first introduced 16-bit stereo (as opposed to 8-bit mono) recording capabilities in the early 1990s. I had heard TMBG used the box of said computer to also do some of the percussion for the song.
    • You can't make me go out and commission a theme song.
      • but they did for Malcolm in the Middle :)

        Istanbul was Constantinople. There. I said it.
        • Actually, being a parent, I also know that they did a number of theme songs for the pre-schooler Disney shows as well. They did, at least, the themes for Mickey Mouse Club House and Higglytown Heroes (and I know this from having the theme songs drilled into my head on Saturday and Sunday mornings), but I don't think that they did any shows for the morning block.
          • good to know. I must have missed that somehow. my kids are too young for cartoons yet and I must have been too old ...
    • support apple much? geez. you couldn't post links to their own site? is stevie paying you?

      when i buy my TMBG music, i buy it free of DRM and usually off their website.
    • That is one of the saddest things I have ever read. And I read slashdot fairly often.
    • Alternatively, you could visit the TMBG [] website, where you can purchase their music free of DRM, as well as sample free tunes and video clips.
    • I already commissioned Wesley Willis to write a theme song for Slashdot.

      Me: We need a theme song for Slashdot.
      Wesley: How about "Suck a Pitbull's Dick"?
      Me: That's not what we were looking for.
      Wesley: What about "Suck My Dog's Dick"?
      Me: That's not much better.
      Wesley: Oh, you don't like songs about dogs, How about "Suck a Camel's Bootyhole"?
      Me: No.
      Wesley: "Suck a Caribou's Ass"?
      Me: No.
      Wesley: "Suck a Panda's Cock"? "Lick a Donkey's Ass"?
      Me: No.
      Wesley: "Taste a Gorilla's Ass"? "Taste a Lechwe's Ass"? "Suck a J
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by byolinux ( 535260 ) *
        Couldn't resist.

        You are my favorite Editor of Slashdot.
        You really rock it out.
        You post harder than a magic kiss.
        You whip a panda's Dick.

        Rob Malda
        Rob Malda
        Rob Malda
        Rob Malda

        Rob Malda got on my nerves.
        He slapped my Mom in the Ass.
        He shot up my Dad's Station Wagon.
        Then he came to my house and typoed my head.

        Rob Malda
        Rob Malda
        Rob Malda
        Rob Malda

        After Eric Raymond smashed my Cock, he slashdotted my head.
        Then 5 Gnus smashed my Gut.
        My hands were tied.
        My hands were also tagged.

        Rob Malda
        Rob Malda
        Rob Malda
        Rob Malda

        • Huh, I always thought it was "magickist", like a magician who does magick instead of magic.

          " really whips the llama's ass."
  • by TexVex ( 669445 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @07:55PM (#20231565)
    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


    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
  • by yknott ( 463514 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @08:13PM (#20231683) Homepage Journal
  • Back when the technology was new... drum machines, synthesizers and no one knew how to interface them. Here's a link to a fantastic interview from the drummer of Ultravox! who details the issues involved in syncing these devices - live - and long before even the Apple II showed up on the scene. []
  • To be honest I'm not very happy with TMBG right now, I picked up their new album, The Else, the other day and started listening...
    after maybe two or three tracks I hit eject and put in Flood
    • by AxsDeny ( 152142 )

      You missed the best tracks then.

      • Bee of the Bird of the Moth
      • The Cap'm
      • The Mesopotamians

      Spend more time with it.

    • I have to disagree and agree with you there. I recieved the album about a week and a half ago. My initial impressions were not good. I left it a week and came back to it. And loved it. Give it another go, perhaps concentrate on 'I'm Impressed', 'Upside down frown', 'the cap'm' and the totally excellent 'The Mesopotamians'. I was completely addicted to it last week, I listened to it constantly for about 4 days!
    • by AP31R0N ( 723649 )
      So we keep buying/downloading the newer material, hoping to recapture the feelings we had from the earlier work. But you aren't the same person you were then, neither are the artists. Such is the nature of bands that last. If you get into a band right away eventually, they will stop doing what got you into them. You will change, they will change. The divergence increases over time. i just to be obsessed with The Cure and Depeche Mode. But i'm not a hyperemotional/hormonal teenager anymore. Robert Sm
      • "VNV Nation ... fills that void now for me."
        "If a band repeats themselves, that too gets old."

        I foresee Ronan Harris, et al, joining Misters Gore and Smith quite soon. You can only request "Chrome" so many times at the club. He can only sing that G to F monotone voice so many times before it gets on me.

        Then again, Gary Numan is a bit guilty of that too, but I'm not admitting to the same paradigm, although his new stuff is a far cry from "The Pleasure Principle" and Tubeway Army (ramble ramble...)
  • by Fez ( 468752 ) * on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @10:57PM (#20232689)
    What, no mention of John Linnell's computer-controlled robot orchestra?

    See: [] (Rehearsal)
    And: [] (Live)

  • by Asmor ( 775910 ) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @12:42AM (#20233217) Homepage
    TMBG has been my favorite band for a long time, and I liked them even before I knew who they were thanks to Paticle Man and Istanbul both being on Tiny Toon Adventures.

    It's really great, however, knowing that they have set up their own website where you can buy mp3s of their albums at reasonable prices (99 cents a track or $10 an album last I checked). If you buy the album, you even get all the artwork in pdf form!

    Music unencumbered with DRM is always great, only kind I'll buy. That it's run by the artists and (presumably, never actually checked into it) they get all the profits is just gravy.

    TMBG truly is the future of music.
    • I liked them even before I knew who they were thanks to Paticle Man
      It's Pa R ticle Man you insensitive clod! He's doing the things a particle can!
      • by Asmor ( 775910 )
        What are you talking about? Says so right here on my copy of They Must Be Gaints CD, Dail-a-song: Track 12, Paticle Man.
  • Sorry for posting something totally pointless but I just had to, being a long-term slashdot reader and MASSIVE TMBG fan. TMBG are my favourite band ever, I've adored them since the very first time I heard Ana NG with that awesome guitar riff throughout. Brilliant. I've followed them ever since, going to see them whenever I can (which is rare in the UK) and buying all their albums. Okay, I wasn't overly impressed with 'The Spine' (though some great tracks - Wearing a Raincoat for example) but I reckoned they
  • I can completely empathize with the ease of writing without a drummer but the pain of performing without one....double edged sword! Seems similar in some respects to Trent writing all the NIN material and having to gear up with a live crew for the tours....

Air is water with holes in it.