Photo by Shervin Lainez

When it comes to sheer productivity, diversity of projects, and embracing innovation, there is no doubt that They Might Be Giants is a giant among bands.

John Linnell and John Flansburgh formed as a duo with a drum machine out of Brooklyn in 1982. Since TMBG’s 1986 self-titled debut album, the alt-rock band has written, recorded, and released music nonstop. At one point, the group released three albums over 12 months: the rock album Glean in April 2015, the children's album Why? in November 2015, and the pay-what-you-want album Phone Power in March 2016.

It’s just two months into 2018 and the industrious Johns have released their 20th studio album I Like Fun; set out on a world tour; and revived their celebrated Dial-A-Song service, promising to release one new song every week throughout the year. It began January 3 with “All Time What.”

The 15-track I Like Fun maintains the group’s style of upbeat music with clever lyrics on quirky topics. Linnell and Flansburgh drew on “themes of dread, death, and disappointment and set them to their driving, hyper-melodic music,” according to a press statement.

They Might Be Giants is known for its dynamic live shows, especially since the duo started performing with backing musicians in 1992. The new album captures that spirited energy and highlights TMBG’s accomplished longtime live band: drummer Marty Beller, bassist Danny Weinkauf, and lead guitarist Dan Miller.

TMBG is currently on tour with shows in 50 US cities before continuing to Europe. The group will perform at the Fillmore in San Francisco on March 3 and March 4.

Patrick Dillett, known for his work with St. Vincent and the National, co-produced and mixed I Like Fun with tracking and mixing done at Reservoir Studios in New York. This facility was once the sight of Skyline Studios where TMBG recorded its 1990 album Flood, which went platinum and had the hit “Birdhouse In Your Soul.”

They Might Be Giants has fostered a strong and dedicated following over 35 years. Their many varied music ventures have contributed to their longevity, expanded their audience, and illustrated their unending creativity.

To date, the group has made five children’s albums including Here Come the 123s, which won a Grammy award in 2009 for Best Musical Album for Children.

They have written and/or performed songs for commercials, movie soundtracks, and television shows, working with an impressive gamut from Dunkin’ Donuts to Disney to the Daily Show. TMBG’s single, “Boss of Me,” was the opening theme song for the TV show Malcolm in the Middle. It won a Grammy award for Best Song in 2002.

Most recently, They Might Be Giants contributed the critically acclaimed original song, “I’m Not a Loser,” to SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical, which premiered on Broadway in December 2017.

All along, Linnell and Flansburgh were early adopters of emerging technology that would change the music industry. In 1999, TMBG was the first artist on a major label to release a full-length album, Long Tall Weekend, on the internet. In 2004, the band was among the first to open an artist-owned online store. It has hosted a podcast since late 2005.

At the inception of Dial-A-Song circa 1985, the duo recorded songs onto an answering machine. They advertised the Brooklyn telephone number in local newspaper so fans could call and listen. Nowadays, you can access the 2018 version of Dial-A-Song by calling toll free at (844) 387-6962, visiting, or visiting streaming sites.

They Might Be Giants
The Fillmore
March 3, 2018
9p, $30 (14+)

They Might Be Giants
The Fillmore
March 4, 2018
8p, $30 (14+)