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November 27, 2008 12:36 am


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They Might Be Giants' John Flansburgh (right) says the band brought on a scientific consultant for its forthcoming kids album.



After 26 years, 13 albums and a Grammy, They Might Be Giants has shown no signs of slowing down.

Aside from their successful studio albums with cult hits such as "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)," the offbeat duo of John Flansburgh and John Linnell is known for writing the theme songs for "Malcolm in the Middle" and "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart."

They even collaborated with comedian Jon Hodgman in 2005 to release a set of songs specifically about various venues around the United States.

The band's current live show is actually based around playing TMBG albums in their entirety. Tomorrow, they will perform their platinum-certified 1990 breakthrough, "Flood," for a sold-out audience at Washington's 9:30 Club.

The idea came after TMBG took up a monthly residence at New York City's Poisson Rouge, said Flansburgh in a recent phone interview.

"To keep it interesting for the people who keep coming back, and to keep it interesting for ourselves, we've taken on these theme nights," he said.

However, this isn't the first time the band has performed the full "flood" album, he added.

"About 10 years ago, also in New York City, we opened for ourselves playing all of 'Flood.' So we learned the whole album again and presented it. Having done that, we thought, 'We're going out to D.C., let's do that again for that audience.'"

Not surprisingly, TMBG has several other projects looming on the horizon. The pair's first children's album and DVD, 2005's "Here Come the ABCs," was certified gold, and they are now in the process of writing a third album in that series, "Here Comes Science."

It will tackle "more controversial issues like evolution pretty much everything," said Flansburgh.

The band actually hired a scientific consultant for this project because, as Flasburgh readily admitted, "frankly, I was a terrible science student in high school. My last memory of the periodic table was right before I lost consciousness."

So far, the album has songs about waves, states of matter and the sun. Flansburgh said it will include the first full-blown studio version of a longtime live-set staple, "The Sun Is a Mass of Incandescent Gas."

But before any science teachers object to an overly simple description of the sun's gaseous state, he added, the album will also contain a song called "The Sun Is a Miasma of Incandescent Plasma."

TMBG is working on another adult record, as well, which Flansburgh hopes will revisit the band's roots.

"I think this next rock album my ambition for it is to blend more of the home-recording techniques that we presented in the '80s with modern sounds," he said.

"I'd like to make a more insane-sounding record, to be perfectly honest."

Flansburgh also shared some less-fortunate news. TMBG was originally slated to provide the soundtrack to the upcoming "Coraline" movie. However, "we were basically cut out of that film," he said.

"It was a strange experience. They basically wanted the music to be more creepy. It was unfortunate--we did a lot of sort of preliminary work, there were a lot of false starts, and we never really found a rhythm to work with them. I guess there's one of our songs in the movie momentarily, but it's sort of unfortunate."

Flansburgh did note that the few songs that resulted from the "Coraline" project will get released eventually.

In the meantime, fans have plenty to tide them over.

Ryan Little is a freelance writer and musician in Fredericksburg. Reach him at

What: They Might Be Giants Where: 9:30 Club, 815 V St. N.W., Washington When: Tomorrow, 8 p.m. Cost: Sold out Info: 202/265-0930 or

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