John Flansburgh

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John Flansburgh
Flansburgh performing with They Might Be Giants in October 2010
Flansburgh performing with They Might Be Giants in October 2010
Background information
Birth nameJohn Conant Flansburgh
Also known asFlans
Rolf Conant[1]
Born (1960-05-06) May 6, 1960 (age 61)
OriginLincoln, Massachusetts, US
GenresAlternative rock
Occupation(s)Singer-songwriter, musician, guitarist
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, bass, percussion, trumpet, harmonica
Years active1982–present
Associated actsThey Might Be Giants
Mono Puff
John Linnell

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

Commonly referred to by the nickname Flans or Flansy,[1] he is married to musician Robin Goldwasser, with whom he occasionally performs.

Early life[edit]

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.[2] His brother, Paxus Calta (born Earl Schuyler Flansburgh), is an anti-nuclear activist and political organizer.

Flansburgh attended the George Washington University, where he learned to play guitar while working as a parking garage attendant, then Antioch College and Pratt Institute, where he graduated with an arts degree.[3]

1982–present: They Might Be Giants[edit]

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[edit]

In 1998, Flansburgh guest-starred as 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.[4] 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.[5]

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.[6]

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

Personal life[edit]

Since 1996, he is married to musician Robin Goldwasser, with whom he occasionally performs. Flansburgh considers himself politically liberal and has spoken of his support for Bernie Sanders for President.[7]

Flansburgh is left-handed.[8]


Flansburgh frequently plays a red Gibson ES-335, a sonic blue Fender Telecaster, a candy apple red Fender Jazzmaster, and a vintage sunburst Gibson Les Paul. He is known for his unique, custom-made gold Mojo guitar, known as the "Chessmaster".[9] He designed the body himself, taking inspiration from the geometric shapes of old guitar cases.[10]


  1. ^ a b Design Matters audio interview Archived July 12, 2012, at with John Flansburgh, March 3, 2012. Accessed 2012-09-30.
  2. ^ "John and John Answer Your Questions", TMBG Info Club mailing, Fall 1994. Archived here. Retrieved 2012-09-30
  3. ^ "Q&A: John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants", NBC New York
  4. ^ Rosenberg, Joel. "Unsupervised" (interview with Flansburgh). April 4, 1997. Retrieved October 8, 2012.
  5. ^ "John Flansburgh, Songwriter/Performer Archived June 2, 2012, at the Wayback Machine", Q&A with Gothamist. November 12, 2004.
  6. ^ Now Hear This Archived January 2, 2007, at the Wayback Machine on Retrieved 2012-10-08.
  7. ^ "Sanders' campaign stands at the intersection of entertainment, politics".
  8. ^ " FAQ". Archived from the original on April 6, 1997. Retrieved April 24, 2017.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link). Retrieved 2012-09-30.
  9. ^ "Mojo Chessmaster". This Might Be A Wiki. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  10. ^ "Truly Gigantic! Archived November 26, 2015, at the Wayback Machine", interview with John Flansburgh. Retrieved 2015-11-25.

External links[edit]