They might be coming to Winnipeg

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After more than 30 years as a group, it can be difficult to keep the creative process interesting. Formed in 1982 by “The Johns,” John Flansburgh and John Linnell, They Might Be Giants have been recording and touring together for most of their lives.

“I think maybe for our own sake, we want to make it interesting for ourselves. That’s the main motivation,” Linnell says on the phone from Manchester in the United Kingdom.

The Brooklyn group are bringing An Evening with They Might Be Giants to a sold-out Garrick on Oct. 21 (the venue had to be changed from the West End Cultural Centre due to high ticket sales).

“We’re very excited, and I think we’ve never played in Winnipeg before, so it’s wonderful to hear that we’ve sold out the show,” Linnell says.

The duo has kept it interesting by releasing more than 20 albums of varying styles.

“We are trying always to keep it fresh for us. We’re trying to do the type of music (we’d) like to consume ourselves if we weren’t the ones making it.”

In recent years, the group has expanded their output to include a number of records of children’s music.

Children “kind of get everything, and so for that reason, we try and keep the quality high for kids,” Linnell says. “There’s a temptation for some artists who do kids’ records that sort of assume it doesn’t matter as much what you’re singing about, because they’re not as critical or that they don’t have a choice, but I feel like we take the kids’ music just as seriously.”

In addition to their children’s records, the group has also brought back their popular Dial-a-Song project. In its original incarnation, the group would record new songs on an answering machine that listeners could call periodically for new music. Now, the songs are available on their website as a subscription service.

“It’s a great motivator,” Linnell says of the service. “We realized, both of us, that we work well under deadline.”

This time around, each song released had an additional challenge.

“Flansburgh decided to make it harder for us by making videos for each song.”

The videos vary in complexity from simple lyric videos to more involved animation projects, but Linnell believes the effort is worthwhile.

“For example, the "I Like Fun" video, really, it’s an amazing effort by this animator guy, and so that obviously makes it more interesting for people to go along with it. But it’s a big challenge to come out with one of those every week.”

There is no opening act for An Evening With, but the group is playing two sets with a 20-minute intermission.

“It’s enough time that we do songs that people are familiar with and then a bunch that are sort of more for the connoisseurs.”

Linell says the two sets will vary greatly in their presentation.

“We’re doing our full rock band in the first half, and then we come back and about half of the second half is this thing called the Quiet Storm. That’s our name for it.”

They Might Be Giants’ latest album, I Like Fun, was released on Jan. 19 from Idlewild Recordings.

Published in Volume 73, Number 6 of The Uniter (October 18, 2018)

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