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John Flansburgh

John Flansburgh
Flansburgh performing with They Might Be Giants in October 2010
Background information
Birth name John Conant Flansburgh
Also known as Flans
Rolf Conant[1]
Born (1960-05-06) May 6, 1960
Origin Lincoln, Massachusetts, US
Genres Alternative rock
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter, musician, guitarist
Instruments Vocals, guitar, bass, percussion, trumpet, harmonica
Years active 1982–present
Associated acts They Might Be Giants
Mono Puff
John Linnell
Notable instruments
Gibson ES-335
Gibson Les Paul
Fender Telecaster
Chessmaster (custom Mojo guitar)
Fender Jazzmaster
"The Stick"

John Conant Flansburgh (born May 6, 1960) is an American musician, and actor. He is half of the longstanding Brooklyn, New York-based alternative rock duo They Might Be Giants, for which he writes, sings, and plays rhythm guitar. He is left-handed.[2]

Commonly referred to by the nicknames Flans or Flansy,[1] he is married to musician Robin Goldwasser, with whom he occasionally performs. His father, Earl Flansburgh, was a retired architect and former principal of his own firm.


  • Early life 1
    • 1982–present: They Might Be Giants 1.1
  • Side projects 2
  • Personal life 3
  • Instruments 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early life

Flansburgh was born in Lincoln, Massachusetts. His father, Earl Flansburgh, was a well-known Boston architect. His mother, Polly Flansburgh, is the founder and president of Boston By Foot. Her father, Brigadier General Ralph Hospital, was an artillery commander in the U.S. Army in the Italian Campaign during World War II.[3] His brother, Paxus Calta (born Earl Schuyler Flansburgh), is an anti-nuclear activist and political organizer.

Flansburgh attended the Antioch College and Pratt Institute, where he graduated with an arts degree.[4]

1982–present: They Might Be Giants

Flansburgh co-founded They Might Be Giants, with longtime friend John Linnell, in 1982 while a student at Pratt Institute. The two share singing and songwriting duties, with Flansburgh on guitar, in addition to performing a variety of instruments when the need arises. In the 2002 documentary Gigantic: A Tale of Two Johns, he was described as holding a leadership role in the group, managing most details of their live act and handling much of the promotion effort.

As a songwriter, Flansburgh enjoys a mix of styles; many of his songs have an absurdist and satirical bent, but he often breaks for more earnest and romantic themes as well. He penned and performed vocals on the group's first Grammy Award-winning effort, "Boss of Me", which charted in Europe and served as theme song to the hit television series Malcolm in the Middle.

Side projects

In 1998, Flansburgh guest-starred himself in the season 4 finale of the Cartoon Network animated series Space Ghost Coast to Coast.

Flansburgh has pursued a number of solo projects during his time with They Might Be Giants. His band Mono Puff recorded two full-length albums in the late 1990s and toured occasionally. He also ran a subscription-based record label called the Hello Recording Club.[5] Flansburgh has also directed music videos for such artists as Soul Coughing, Ben Folds Five, Frank Black and the Catholics, Harvey Danger, and Jonathan Coulton. He also produced Coulton's album, Artificial Heart. In 2004, as a one-off, Flansburgh produced and starred in the Off-Broadway musical People Are Wrong!, which was co-written by his wife, Robin Goldwasser.[6]

In 2004, Flansburgh created and hosted a series on WNYC entitled Now Hear This. The program spotlighted a variety of his musical interests, featuring interviews with artists such as Stephin Merritt, David Byrne, Matt Stone, and The Darkness. While no longer in production, it continues to be archived on the station's website.[7]

In 2007, John played a short role as "The Computer" in the Adult Swim comedy series Xavier: Renegade Angel.

Personal life

Since 1996, he is married to musician Robin Goldwasser, with whom he occasionally performs.


Flansburgh frequently plays a red Gibson ES-335, sometimes referred to as "Big Red". He also commonly plays a Fender Telecaster, a Fender Jazzmaster, and a Gibson Les Paul. He is known for his unique, custom-made Mojo guitar, which he designed himself, taking inspiration from the geometric shapes of old guitar cases.[8]


  1. ^ a b audio interviewDesign Matters with John Flansburgh, March 3, 2012. Accessed 2012-09-30.
  2. ^ FAQ, 1996. Archived on Retrieved 2012-09-30.
  3. ^ "John and John Answer Your Questions", TMBG Info Club mailing, Fall 1994. Archived here. Retrieved 2012-09-30
  4. ^ "Q&A: John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants", NBC New York
  5. ^ Rosenberg, Joel. "Unsupervised" (interview with Flansburgh). April 4, 1997. Retrieved October 8, 2012.
  6. ^ "John Flansburgh, Songwriter/Performer", Q&A with Gothamist. November 12, 2004.
  7. ^ Now Hear This on Retrieved 2012-10-08.
  8. ^ "Truly Gigantic!", interview with John Flansburgh. Retrieved 2012-10-08.

External links

  • Official They Might Be Giants site
  • John Flansburgh at This Might Be a Wiki – more detailed information on Flansburgh
  • John Flansburgh at the Internet Movie Database
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