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Questions Wanted!

Ask John and John your TMBG related questions! Maybe you will see it answered right here in future updates... Please note that questions will be read at a later date, filtered, and only the most interesting of questions will ever make it to the Johns. So be smart and remember... spelling counts.

Do you have any advice for a new band struggling to find practice time and gigs?

JF: Honestly, I can't say our experience could help guide anyone. We were good friends with lots of history before we even started working together, so that was unusual right there. Once we did start playing together, we quickly realized staying a duo meant we could carry on doing what we were interested in without making any money at it. It allowed us to figure out we were bad at improvising, even though we admire the idea of it. It is very hard finding a way to a professional career. In some ways it was only our idealism and our really vague ambitions that allowed us to endure (we were a local band for four and a half years before our first indie record came out) That might not be realistic or helpful for four or five people in college trying to get something happening on the side.

Sent in by: David B

Do you think that side projects have affected the quality or quantity of TMBG songs?

JF: It's loosened us up considerably, and probably made us faster writers. I think for me it's better if I never break from writing. It's easier for me to write another song then to write the first in some time.

Sent in by: Glenn & Sandy

What are you thinking about doing when you eventually retire?

JF: That's a good question. Being a professional musician is not a realistic long-term career, especially when you start thinking about a family and financial security, but for the time being, we are very happy doing the work we get to do.

Sent in by: Joe M

Do you have any political aspirations?

JF: No, which is not to say we are not politically conscious.

Sent in by: Ron S.

Who has been your most unusual tour opener?

JF: We've had some acts go on to greater glory than opening for TMBG (the Pixies, Soul Coughing) but the performance artists we have shared bills with have to be the weirdest. Once an armless man stripped naked while his friend counted backwards in German- if memory serves- from one hundred.

Sent in by: Danny N

How much of what we hear on your albums is improvised?

JF: We write things a lot of different ways, but have certainly recorded many songs in a very formatted, formal way. We have made a point of demoing almost everything to some extent, because we have limited studio time. (Trying to improvise what ultimately will be a short format pop song is kinda of a mistake) But in the last few years we have settled into an interesting strategy for making recordings with the band, which is we arrange the form of the songs quite completely in rehearsal, but usually leave some part of the song a little underdeveloped, which allows a little space to add another production layer on top of it. Usually it seems like these last bits are kind of reacting to the texture of the song as it has come up, and would include more "off the cuff" ideas. It feels like the best of both worlds.

Sent in by: ProfApe

You cover a wide range of musical genres. Do you have a favorite type of music to write/ perform?

JF: I think the variety is what makes it interesting for us, both in song selectio n and venue size. When we are on the road, delivering a really physical show can get a bit tired, but after doing this series of really wide open sets in NYC recently it was fun to come back to our most sturdy repertoire at a couple of college shows. I wish we could deliver slow songs in more compelling ways so that the audience would react to them as strongly as the rave-ups, but that's pretty much every musician's problem (except maybe Leonard Cohen).

Sent in by: Jai H

Are there any songs from your repertoire that you are so tired of that you will never play them live again? Are there some you will never get tired of playing?

JF: There are a number of songs we've recorded that we've never performed at all! Recently we started doing "Hypnotist of Ladies" which really works and is really fun to play, and I am not positive, but I don't think we ever played that until now. We've never done "Fingertips" all the way through, although I bet it wouldn't be that hard with the Band of Dans (they are very versatile and quick studies). We've probably played "Don't Let's Start" a thousand times, but it can still be fun if the timing is right. We don't play it very often. We try to avoid the thing of perverting the arrangement just to keep it interesting to the band, which is a pet peeve of mine. We're lucky in that we have a lot of songs to draw from, so we can always put one or two aside till they seem fresh again.

Sent in by: SnookerC

What were you guys like in high school? What did you do for fun?

JF: We wrote for the newspaper, and were basically on the outside of most social things. School spirit was definitely at an all time low, and there wasn't even an "in" group because all the cliques just hated each other so much. Our little crowd had a fun spirit though, and a lot of the manic energy that our friendships generated is reflected in the spirit of the band. We were very interested in rock music, underground comics and fringy pop culture, and fancied ourselves to be pretty clever, as most adolescents do.

Sent in by: JandAJune

John F, how do you deal with being a lefty in a right-handed world?

JF: I hate knobs and cords being under my strumming arm (which is what happens when you "flip" a guitar) so I've committed myself to playing left-handed instruments, which makes it a left handed world for me. I don't believe in playing instruments that weren't designed for me, even though the shapes always look kinda wrong. Almost everything else is pretty straightforward. I tried playing a pedal steel guitar the other day, and realized it was totally righty. Our drummer Dan Hickey is lefty too, which makes it tough sharing gear on festivals, but he won't budge. The high hat's on the right and that's the way it is.

Sent in by: Harshal14

Questions Still Wanted!

Ask John and John your TMBG related questions! Maybe you will see it answered right here in future updates... Please note that questions will be read at a later date, filtered, and only the most interesting of questions will ever make it to the Johns. So be smart and remember... spelling counts.