On the heels of its 'Best Children's Album' Grammy win for "Here Come the 123's," They Might Be Giants is readying the release of another kid-centric set, "Here Comes Science." The album and animated DVD is due Sept. 1 on Amazon and iTunes and everywhere Sept. 22 on Disney Sound.
"It's very much in the spirit of the band," frontman John Flansburgh tells Billboard.com. "The very pleasant side effects of doing kid stuff is that you can apply as much creative energy and just be as original as you want. Nobody's going to say, 'Well, that couldn't possibly work.' It's an open invitation to experimentation, and that is a great thing for us."
As evidenced by song titles like "Meet the Elements," "Photosynthesis," and "I Am a Paleontologist," "Here Comes Science" covers a wide spectrum of scientific fields. Flansburgh and his bandmates -- co-founder John Linell, Marty Beller, Dan Miller and Danny Weinkauf -- recruited Eric Siegel from New York Hall of Science, a children's museum in Queens, N.Y. to ensure that all the material was factually accurate. "We've never had to really fact check anything before; it's not an impulse that I think anybody in a rock band meets with open arms," Flansburgh admits.
In the process of making sure everything rang true, one of They Might Be Giants' longtime fan favorite song, "The Sun Is a Mass of Incandescent Gas," had to be reworked for the release. " We were so sure we were on solid ground with the first song that we not only did a new recording of it, we had animated the entire thing," recalls Flansburgh. "Eric looked at it and was like, "Guys, this is just so wrong, I can't even explain.' So we actually constructed an answer song to ourselves called 'The Sun Is A Miasma of Incandescent Plasma.' "
In addition to "Science," Flansburgh reveals exclusively to Billboard.com that They Might Be Giants is working on full-fledged rock album and eyeing a spring 2010 release. The band started recording in March and has finished eight tracks so far. "We were hitting it very hard like a month ago, and I think we'll reconvene in about a month and do the second half of it," he says.
Though at least two of the completed tracks are "very straightforward, pop-rock songs," Flansburgh says the band is also experimenting with new musical directions. "We're kind of casting about for new ways of working," he says. "Our drummer Marty just got an electric drum kit, which sounds like we're going techno, but it's actually kind of the opposite…it sort of sounds like Spike Jonze and Kraftwerk falling down the staircase together."
"I think we're just trying to figure out a way to make a less traditional record," Flansburgh adds.
The veteran alt-rockers are working with longtime producer Pat Gillett and have no plans as of yet to record with the Dust Brothers, who produced the band's 2007 rock album "The Else" (which has sold 45,000 copies according to Nielsen SoundScan).
They Might Be Giants will tour through September and October, playing a mix of regular rock shows and children's shows in support of "Here Comes Science."
Here are the band's tour dates:
Sept. 13: Clark, N.J. (Union Country Music Fest)
Sept. 19: Raleigh, N.C. (North Carolina Museum of Art)
Oct. 1: Ithaca, N.Y. (State Theatre)
Oct. 2: Albany, N.Y. (Hart Theatre/The Egg)
Oct 3: Albany, N.Y. (Hart Theatre/The Egg)
Oct. 4: New York (American Museum of Natural History)
Oct. 8: Detroit (St. Andrew's Hall)
Oct. 9: St. Louis (The Pageant)
Oct. 10: Chicago (Vic Theatre)
Oct. 11: Madison, Wis. (Barrymore Theatre)
Oct. 13: Indianapolis (The Vogue)
Oct. 15: Cleveland (Beachland Ballroom)
Oct. 16: Millvale, Pa. (Mr. Small's Theater)
Oct. 17: Kutztown, Pa. (Kutztown University - Schaeffer Auditorium)
Oct. 18: New York (NYU - Skirball Center for the Performing Artts)
Nov. 14: Los Angeles (Royce Hall at UCLA)
Nov. 15: Santa Barbara, Calif. (Campbell Hall at UCSB)
Nov. 21: Philadelphia (Theatre of Living Arts)
Nov. 27: Uncasville, Conn. (The Wolf Den at Mohegan Sun Casino)
Nov. 28: Washington, D.C. (9:30 Club)