Andrew H. Walker, Getty Images Nine days after the deadly tornado that touched…
- Posted on Oct 25th 2009 12:00PM by Dan Reilly
Much like a new band honing their live act, Flansburgh and John Linnell made some adjustments for their younger fans. "We got thicker skins and toughened up. We've got a little bit of that magic public school teacher energy that really can harness the power of children's attention spans. We've just gotten better at it," says Flansburgh.
The kids aren't the only ones who need to be entertained though. "The interesting thing about playing for kids is that half the people in the audience are adults," Flansburgh adds. "The parents are there too so it's actually this sort of mixed bag as an audience. You can address the parents directly and that will often animate the kids, so it definitely can be a challenge. It's frustrating when the confetti cannon gets the biggest response of the day but you know, it's also exciting just to see kids experience live music. A lot of these kids have never seen live music. A lot of things that were live are now pre-recorded and turned into 'American Idol,' so when people actually see a live band, for some kids it can be very hypnotizing. There are always kids who are watching us really hard so it's just very wide open."
That said, They Might Be Giants aren't doing much differently with their songwriting. Albums like the recently released 'Here Comes Science' and the Grammy-winning 'Here Come the 123s' may be intended for younger audiences, but they can be just as easily enjoyed by adults. "I think we've left in a lot of the energy of our adult material and that's ultimately been the secret to our success with the kids stuff," Flansburgh says. "We don't do a watered-down version of our adult stuff for kids. There's lots of super propulsive rhythmic music. There's some stuff that's just plain loud and kids like music with energy."
And though they don't test any of their material on kids before releasing it, Flansburgh's own childhood musical history plays a big part in this success. "As a kid, I always listened to pop," he says. "I never listened to the kids records my parents gave me. I always listened to Beatles albums and stuff. I think keeping it energetic is pretty, that's the secret. I think that's why so many kids are drawn to pop music instead of the music they're supposed to listen to because it's just more exciting to listen to."
To hear just how exciting photosynthesis, the elements and the solar system can be, pick up 'Here Comes Science,' which is out now.