When we last heard from They Might Be Giants, they were enjoying the success of their latest CD/DVD set for kids, the excellentHere Comes Science. They were working on their next adult CD. There wasn't even any discussion about the next kids album.
But now, in a Zooglobble exclusive, the band reveals their next kids album, coming out sooner than you'd think:
Tentatively called Here Comes Political Science, the album continues the band's exploration of academic fields beyond the ABCs and 123s. This time around, they'll be offering up ditties about Western Eurpoean parliamentary systems and unicameral legislatures, all wrapped up in the 2-minute pop nuggets the Grammy-winning band is known for and targeted at kids ages 4 through 10.
We talked briefly to John Flansburgh by phone yesterday, during which he revealed the surprising background to the album and a little bit about the songs (along with a tracklist).
The album itself will actually be released on the new C-SPAN Records label, yet another way in which the cable channel is expanding its reach. "We've been really happy on Disney Sound," says Flansburgh, "except for having to put that Higglytown Heroes song on one of the disks. But we'd been writing these slightly more political songs -- for kids -- and weren't sure if they were up Disney's alley."
"At about that same time, C-SPAN came to us and asked if we'd do a theme song for them and mentioned they were starting a record label. Seemed like fate was talking, if you subscribe to that sort of superstitious bunk. So we asked Disney if they'd be willing to let us release an album with C-SPAN, and they were totally cool with that. We're still with Disney -- hopefully we'll be recording another kids' album for 'em in 2011. 'Here Comes Colors and Shapes,' or some crazy stuff like that."
When we wondered if maybe the They Might Be Giants songs might be a bit too liberal for the non-partisan C-SPAN (Flansburgh, after all, in 2004 helped put together Future Soundtrack for America, a various artist collection whose proceeds went to liberal organizations like MoveOn.org), Flansburgh said it wasn't a concern. "They [C-SPAN Records] actually have already signed up [Sen.] Orrin Hatch and have negotiated distribution rights with [Rep.] Sonny Bono's estate. So they kinda needed us to balance things out." Flansburgh stresses, though, that the political aspect won't play a big part of the songs -- "Mentioning political leaders by name probably renders most of songs way out-of-date within a decade -- one person's Barack Obama is another person's Gary Hart. But a song about the history of the initiative process in the Western United States? Now that stuff never gets old."
As for videos -- yes, this will be another CD/DVD set -- Flansburgh says they've already got animation and live-action stuff in the hopper. He says he's particularly excited about the Deeply Felt Puppet Theatre's version of "Tea! (Party!)," though admits he's probably biased because he's lead puppeteer Robin Goldwasser's husband.
Expect a release date of October 12, 2010, in the last month before the 2010 midterm Congressional elections, along with a tour supporting the album. State capitols will be on the itinerary ("Maybe Linnell will open shows playing that State Songs album that's, like, totally forgotten") and maybe even Congress. "I'm really excited about that possibility," says Flansburgh. "Maybe we'll write songs for all those statues sitting there in Congress sent there by the states. And who knows, maybe Higglytown Heroes will do an episode on the local parliamentarian -- Disney knows where to find us."
Track listing (with selected notes):
1. One House Is Enough: About Nebraska's unicameral legislature
2. Question Time
3. Instant! Runoff! Voting!
4. Tippecanoe and Tyler Too (prev. released)
5. The Ballad of Davy Crockett (on the City Council)
6. James K. Polk (prev. released)
7. George W. Bush: a reworking of "James K. Polk," a la "The Sun is a Miasma of Incandescent Plasma" off Here Comes Science
8. Where Do My Taxes Go?
9. Social Security Trust Fund Blues
10. Structure of My Deficit
11. The Veil of Ignorance: John Rawls, y'all!
12. Tea! (Party!)
13. Theme from "Washington Journal"