Interview: John Linnell, They Might Be Giants

They Might Be Giants credit Shervin Lainez

Pic: Shervin Lainez

When we started out, the bass was all done on synth, so I was effectively the bass player for that reason. There’s a song of ours called ‘The Guitar’ and there’s a moment where John [Flansburgh, other TMBG member] plays bass in that one, but for some reason I’m the one portrayed as playing bass in the video. I have played bass, in fact I did it at rehearsal a few months ago when our bass player stepped out of the room, and our guitarist said, ‘It’s interesting to see you struggling’, ha ha! I took that as a compliment because I assumed he meant that normally I can play my instrument OK. We’ve had a lot of really competent bass players on our roster for nearly 20 years now. We started out with the legendary Tony Maimone, who was in Pere Ubu, and then he was followed by Graham Mabey, who was Joe Jackson’s bass player. They were wonderful to work with. For a long time now we’ve had Danny Weinkauf with us, who is amazing. I also play bass on the accordion, although I’m not a trained accordionist. I think I’m not playing where you’re supposed to, but I’m playing something that sounds like a bass-line. On the new album we took a baritone sax line, put it through a wah pedal and manipulated it so it sounded interesting: it’s a kind of 70s disco bass line. We play that line live on a guitar with an onboard octave pedal.

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