They met in Junior High School when they both worked on the school newspaper. Linnell was an editor of "the only high school newspaper without a sports section" and he became friends with Flansburgh through their work on the paper. They each went their separate way for a while after high school. Flansburgh went to art school in NY for a year, but eventually left to pursue music. Linnell spent some time around the Providence, RI area playing with a group called the Mundanes. The Mundanes were fairly successful locally and released a 7" album.
Eventually, however, Linnell moved to Brooklyn to pursue bigger opportunities. It was here in Brooklyn in 1981 where John and John met up again. They had been interested in making music from their childhood days in Massachusetts, and now that they were both living in NY they decided to pursue a career in music. Their first performance together was in the summer of 1982 at a Sandinista rally in Central Park where they were introduced as "El Grupo de Rock 'n' Roll." Six months later they performed their second show under the name "They Might Be Giants" at a club called Dr. B's in Soho. Linnell played a Farfisa organ and Flansburgh played electric guitar. They used a taped rhythm track as backup. Despite a heavy snowstorm, 23 of their friends showed up and the show was a big success.
The continued to grow using a song service called Dial-A-Song to get their songs out. The band has an extremely unique sound, which others have tried and failed to copy. The band's lyrics are unusual as well, incorporating some very sophisticated allusions and imagery. To understand what we are talking about, you really need to hear some of Their music.
TMBG are John Linnell (accordion, keyboards, woodwinds, vocals) and John Flansburgh (guitar, vocals). The instrumentation of the band has been evolving since the release of the first album back in 1986. Originally (and through the Flood tour in 1990) the band toured as just John and John backed with synthesizers and tapes. Then, during the Apollo 18 tour, the band started adding talent such as J. D. Feinberg (drums) and Kurt Hoffman (horns, keyboards) to live tours. When John Henry was released, John and John used Brian Doherty (drums) and Tony Maimone (bass), among others, in the recording sessions as well as tours. On Factory Showroom, the band consists of John and John plus Brian, Graham Maby (bass), and Eric Schermerhorn (lead guitar). Subsequest concerts no longer include Eric or Brian, but add Dan Hickey on drums. Fans wait with bated breath to find out what will happen to that distinctive sound next.