They Might Be Giants performs alternative rock at Englert

BY DI STAFF | OCTOBER 27, 2011 7:20 AM

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The members of They Might Be Giants recorded songs on an answering machine and advertised the number in local newspapers. The band coined its creation "Dial-A-Song."

The Brooklyn-based message machine grew so popular that it became associated with the slogan "Always Busy, Often Broken." After almost 20 years, the message machine finally broke down.

But not before sharing almost 500 distinct songs with countless callers.

"It grew out of this notion that we had that there must be other ways to get our music out there other than record stores and radio stations," said John Linnell, a cofounder of They Might Be Giants. "It was just one idea on a list of things that we thought would be fun to do … we weren't expecting very much traffic."

They Might be Giants will perform at 7 p.m. Oct. 30 in the Englert Theatre, 221 E. Washington St. Nathan Gould of the Englert said it will be a packed house and very high-energy show — it has already sold out.

They Might Be Giants was founded by Linnell and John Flansburgh in 1983 in Brooklyn, N.Y. Linnell said the secret to their longevity is a mutual respect.

"We are continually surprising each other," he said. "I can rely on him to come up with an idea that I wouldn't have thought of, and I think the opposite is true as well."

Over a span nearly 30 years, the band's sound has moved in a few directions. Initially pioneers of the alternative-rock movement, around 10 years ago, they produced an album of children's songs that was a major success. The youth-geared album outsold all of the other They Might Be Giants albums before it.

For the Englert performance, the group will perform tracks mostly from its latest album, Join Us. And while it was not created for a younger audience, aspects of the band's live show will feature a youthful prop.

"We have puppets," Linnell said. "We found out that adults respond very well to puppet shows. Originally, we used them for the kids' shows, but we found out that adults enjoy puppets even more than kids do."

— by Jordan Montgomery

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