The Brooklyn-born duo of Johns Flansburgh (glasses) and Linnell (no glasses) have been producing some of the world’s most interesting and variety-heavy pop music for thirty years, and finally they’re coming back to Australia. And not before time.
It’s been 12 years, Flans. Twelve long years.
It seems we could have done this a long time ago. I mean, this tour has kind of exploded. We just added shows in Melbourne and Tasmania and New Zealand, and the demand seems like it’s greater than ever. I feel like somebody must have sprinkled pixie dust on us or something. And by pixie dust, I mean as in the band the Pixies. [Laughs] We’re gaining a bigger following in our absence.
Especially since you used to tour here every 18 months or so.
Yeah, and I feel like there’s this tremendous, very direct, and very real affinity that Australian audiences have with TMBG. But it’s very curious to me: I feel like there’s something about the Australian temperament that takes what we do at face value. Australians are very comfortable with the odd balancing act of elements that we’ve got going; they’re not confused by the sensibility or the humour in what we’re doing, like they don’t hold that against us or just pre-judge it as the rock culture in the United States does. And I just want to say I really appreciate that. We’re used to being misunderstood, so it’s exciting to feel like we’re being understood.
This will be a homecoming then.
Exactly. Our spiritual home!
The new Nanonbots is the fifth new [non-children’s] album you’ve done since your last tour – how do you balance your huge back catalogue in a show?
The good news is the show is impossibly long and the songs are impossibly short, so we can really jam in a pretty good representative sample – in the current show I think almost every adult album is represented except one. But we often change up the shows. And when we do two shows in the one town we will be doing very different sets night to night.
That’s no small feat.
Well, there’s probably 30 songs in the show right now, and there is probably easily another 30 songs that are in our active repertoire that we could pull out at any time. So, it’s not hard to change it up.
And I guess it helps when you have things like ‘Tick’ on the new album, which is 12 seconds long.
‘Tick’ was a very real complaint in the guise of a happy go-lucky song. I actually got Lyme Disease that summer and it was just a horrible, horrible experience. It’s totally autobiographical.
So it’s a song with a message.
Yes. I would recommend to anyone not to get Lyme Disease.
They Might Be Giants play Groovin the Moo: Bendigo, Sat 4 May.