MARCH 2, 2003

MINK CAR is a new album by They Might Be Giants. They currently have 18 years of hard work behind them and have developed a true following of devoted fans. John Flansburgh and John Linnell haven’t had a new album out in over 5 years. During this 5 years They Might Be Giants have kept working and putting out music for film and television too. But, Mink Car should awaken all of those long awaited fans and probably find new fans as well. Caught up with the band while on tour and asked them how this CD came to be.

What is the CD Mink Car like?

Mink Car is ready for the world. It is dripping with listening Satisfaction. We wrote the record over the last couple of years, but recorded most of it in just the last few months. We enlisted our notorious live band, The Band Of Dans, as well as some of our favorite producers to make Mink Car. There is a wide range of recording approaches on here. Some tracks are just rocking out with our band, while a couple of songs were almost purely electronic, and a lot are a hybrid of two. We tracked most of it in Brooklyn and Manhattan, and did the very last bit in London.

How did the song Bangs come into being around?

We enlisted producers Clive Langor and Alan Winstanley (who helped us create our British top ten hit “Birdhouse In Your Soul”) for this infectious melody in the hopes of repeating our success in the UK. Best – selling UK author Zadie Smith has written a compassion short story (“The Girl with Bangs”) but hastens to remind us that in Britain the haircut is called a “fringe.”

What is the story behind tour song Cyclops Rock?

This is the story of a fellow who feels betrayed and beaten by a relationship, but is surviving. He compares himself to Chuckie, from the Chid’s Play movies. The shocking chant at the end is delivered by Cerys, the singer from UK hit makers Catatonia.

The song Man It’s So Loud In Here used to be a rock song right?

The song Man, It’s So Loud In Here has been completely re-orchestrated from its original rock inception with the help of producer Adam Schlesinger (who’s also in Fountains of Wayne) it doesn’t sound like anything we would have ever done by ourselves, probably. It pays homage to one or two well known bands from the mid-1980s, but we’re hoping the song will be so successful that eventually people will hear them and be reminded of us.

Your song MR Excitement was going to be an instrumental wasn’t it?

Originally yeah. This track was put together from manipulations of varios horn samples from Velcro Horns, Dan Levine and Jim O’Connor. The beats were than super-sized with wild sonic manipulations and real live scratching by beatmeisters The Elegant Too, but when Mike Doughty (former front-person for the infamously excellent Soul Coughing) heard it, he insisted on taking the track home where he cooked up the crazy rhymes, which we are still trying to decode.

Can’t your song Another First Kiss be heard on your live CD Severe Tire Damage?

The song though has been largely rewritten from its original incarnation as a power pop tune off our live album Severe Tire Damage. Straight-ahead love songs are relatively uncharted territory for us, be we are happy with the results here.

Hey isn’t that song Yeah Yeah on Mink Car a cover song?

Beloved English pop star Georgie Fame had a hit with this some way back when. He played jazzy electric organ and sang this melody, whole lyrics were set to what we assume was originally an instrumental jazz solo. This was the preferred songwriting method of the author Dave Lambert and his vocalist pal Hendricks and Rose. Our version retains some parts of the original but the rhythm has been electronically tousled. It has the exciting addition of a psychedelic guitar solo by Dan”Solder” Miller, and hand percussion by this friend of Phil Hernandez named Karl who we had never met before and didn’t leave his phone number.

Why was it so hard to record the song Hopeless Bleak Despair?

Well, this is what happens when you record the whole song and then write a new bridge, which is then recorded in a different studio with different instruments and inserted into the recording. Kind of like an effect we might go for intentionally. Despair, the author notes, is an unbearable burden that will one day go its own way, perhaps to be enshrined on a heavenly throne.

What is the story behind the song My Man?

The story is of someone having a chat with his own body after he has become paralyzed. It’s not meant to be sick or anything. Some different instrument can be heard on here such as the triangle and bongos.

You use other interesting instrument on the new song Older what are they?

Two instruments can be heard at the top. The first one you hear is called a Rauschpfife. It is then joined by the strident Saroussophone, a 19th century substitute for the Contrabassoon. Obligatory wisecracks about the reasons for their current unpopularity have already been made and are unwelcome.

Finished With Lies is a homage song why?

There are a few songs from way back when that must be acknowledged. Lies by the Knickerbockers, yes, and LA La Lies from the first Who album. This song Finished With Lies was originally a slow, hypnotic march, but after a few years of playing it that way we found our way to this more direct homage.

Othere songs on Mink Car that weren’t talked about were Workng Undercover For The Man, She Thinks She’s Edith Head, Mink Car, Wicked Little Critta and Drink. Thanks to Restless Records for this interview. They Might Be Giants have also available the albums NO and they currently have 37 bits and songs featured in the literary magazine McSweeny’s # 6

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