Indefatigable hometown heroes They Might Be Giants are once again gracing the Prospect Park bandshell with their idiosyncratic presence, with a free show Saturday night as part of the Celebrate Brooklyn series. The trailblazing indie rock duo, which came of age in the 1980s underground East Village DIY club scene, has been rocking with disarming intelligence and wit for over three decades now. They still put on a hell of a live show, whether it be for kids or grown-ups, and Saturday's "adult" gig comes during a brief pause in touring to support their newest album, "Nanobots." Last week we spoke with the inimitable John Linnell about the state of all things TMBG in 2013—and during the interview Linnell finally addressed one Gothamist photographer's conspiracy theory.

Where are you calling from? I'm at home in Brooklyn.

I thought you were on tour for some reason...Well, we've been on this extreme [tour]; we were out for most of the spring. We were gone for about 4 months just everywhere. We went to Australia, across the United States. We are home now, but we are heading back out in the fall to Europe and then some more United States, I guess.

Does touring become more challenging as you get older? Yes. [laughs] Yeah, it does. There are certain comforts we enjoy now that we didn't in the beginning. In the '80s we did a couple of van tours, we toured in cars, and that's a little more difficult on some level, partly because we are doing the driving ourselves and we're driving during the day. So with the bus tour, the situation is very much in close quarters with everybody else. There's not a whole lot of privacy.

You don't have your own bus? No. It's one bus for the band and crew. The advantage, though, is that we sleep while we move, which means that when we get to where we're going we pretty much have the entire day in the town. We'll leave the town after the gear has been packed up at the end of the show. So it gives us a little more time to enjoy whatever place we happen to be in. And it also allows the crew to do their job and also get a full night's rest. It's a very efficient way to travel. In some ways it's a little bit more pleasant than doing the van tour where you spend the whole day driving.

I want to ask about the new album, Nanobots. Nanobots terrify me and I'm wondering where the title arose from and if that was a conscious theme throughout when you were creating it? It's not really a theme for the album because we kind of failed to come up with a theme for the album! Which we generally do [fail to do]. I would say in general we don't have overarching themes for the adult albums that we make. We do have kids records which are specifically themed. The ones that we've done over the last few years have been themed pseudo-educational projects about science or learning math or something. Those are very deliberately themed.

But with the general stuff that we do, what we now term our "adult material"—that makes it sound like porn, which of course it isn't—we've never been inclined to make a themed album. I'm not saying that it's impossible. We could do that, God knows. But usually the thing that connects the songs to these kinds of albums are the fact that they were all written in the same period and it's not a conscious act. It's something that maybe is only really discernible in retrospect. You could say "Oh yeah, that was the year we were writing those songs." They have some quality that links them but it certainly was not intentional.

So where did the title Nanobots come from? I don't know. It's very hard to point to the origins of a lot of these ideas. At the moment when we're thinking up the actual subject of the song there's the least amount of scrutiny happening at that moment. It's usually we have a lot of ideas; the process of writing involves coming up with and sequentially discarding idea after idea. And then you hit on the one you like.

I don't think John or I have ever taken notes: "Had an interesting idea today, was influenced by so-and-so." It really is a very intuitive process. And it's very hard to say where the idea [comes from]. It often seems to come out of thin air. A really good idea seems to magically appear. And I suppose in a way if you knew where it came from the whole process would be a lot easier.

Do you think from your perspective the lyrics are any more political than they were in some of the songs than when you started? I think that we have been doing songs in the most general sense that you could call political from very early on. And there are songs that anybody would point to and say "That has a political slant to it," like "Racist Friend" for example. Then there are other songs which I think are political in a more broad sense that they might be about social issues or have some philosophical bent that you could describe as political. I don't know, in other words.

On the last record we have this song called "Black Ops" which is not a political track. It's not advocating a position. But it's describing this very creepy and disturbing situation where people who—I'm speaking for John Flansburgh who wrote the song and I shouldn't be doing that—but my sense is that the protagonist in the song "Black Ops" is someone who is kind of morally unequipped to perform the job that he's doing. He's been put in a position of enormous responsibility and he's doing some really disturbing things and he and his cohorts have this job where they get to do this incredibly creepy stuff.

My sense of that song and a lot of the stuff like that that we do is about setting a mood more than anything else. It's not trying to necessarily clarify a political issue or stake out a position. It's a work of art, in other words. It's an expression of a sentiment in a song and it's a little bit like a work of fiction in the sense that there's a narrator and it's got elements of a story.

And the band has also been involved, at times, in doing political fundraisers or things like that, so I was wondering if you have anything in the works for the Mayoral race? Oh! I think, yeah, I haven't spoke to John Flansburgh about this. The last time we had a discussion on the bus about the mayoral race in New York I think there was this general feeling like the whole thing was disappointing. That we didn't feel particularly inspired by the race.

Was that before or after Anthony Weiner came back? It was after he had re-entered the race and before this most recent turn of events. But I think there was this feeling like we were not especially excited about anybody. I think there is kind of a friendly feeling towards somebody like Bill De Blasio but also this slightly despairing sense that somebody else who is more well known is probably going to wind up being mayor.

It seems like more parts of New York are getting taken over by these chain stores. As somebody who has lived in New York so long, are you bothered by how New York is becoming more and more generic? I would say sure. I mean, I don't think always think everything has to stay the same. And some of those chains are actually okay. I like that there is a Fairway in Red Hook. I don't know. I feel that's more the case outside of New York, and that does effect our lives when we're not home. That local stores seem to be on the wane elsewhere, particularly bookstores and things like that. When you travel around the country you see the effects of Big Boxification much more than in New York.

Are you ever tempted to live in another place than New York? Well, I kind of do, in a way. Half the time I live out on the road somewhere. And we also have a place upstate so we get out of town a lot on weekends. I think I like the balance currently. I really love New York. I was born here. I feel very close to New York. I suspect that I'm kind of a lifer here. But I also have that luxury of getting to be in a lot of other places over the course of the year. And I feel like it's reasonably good balance.

I always think of you as from Massachusetts, I didn't realize you were born in New York City. I lived in Massachusetts when I was a teenager. My family moved to the Boston area when I was eight. And then I kind of moved out when I was 18. So I spent about 10 years in the Boston area which was a big part of my life. And that's where I met John Flansburgh. But I really do think of New York as ultimately the center of my universe.

What's your first musical memory? That's an interesting question. I don't know. There are a lot of memories that you have which are sort of pre-verbal. It would be interesting to be able to pin them down. I remember being at Jones Beach as a kid and hearing "See You In September." I forget the name of the band that did that. [Ed. Note: The Happenings] But that kind of stayed with me. My brother was a big WMCA listener so I remember hearing The Beatles when they arrived in New York, whatever year that was, like '64 I guess. That was a big deal. And WMCA was going mental playing "I Wanna Hold Your Hand," so I remember that pretty clearly. That was exciting.

It seems like whenever I see They Might Be Giants live there are always so many hilarious moments and spontaneous things that happen. Can you think of a particularly weird thing that's happened on stage recently or in the past? What's the weirdest thing that comes to mind? The weirdest thing that comes to mind? I'll think of it when I get off the phone, I'm sure. We're up there trying to do a job, so a lot of it involves this kind of weird trying to keep your concentration up so you can perform the show but then there's always this possibility that something really odd is gonna happen that evening. I'm not really thinking of anything in particular. I think I would say in general the big variable for me in the show is stuff that comes out of Flansburgh's mouth—that kind of keeps the show alive in a way. That keeps me on my toes.

I think the last time I saw you guys was at Terminal 5 and Jake Dobkin, who co-founded Gothamist, is a huge fan. He's also a photographer, and he was in the photo pit shooting you guys for a long time. Nobody asked him to leave, and eventually a microphone stand fell on his head. It could have killed him! He was wondering if maybe that wasn't such an accident?[laughs] Of course not. [laughs] How could he think that? I really appreciate the support you guys have been giving us. Tell him it was nothing personal!

Maybe he's sort of joking, you never know with that guy. On the other hand, it was sort of a weird twist that it landed exactly on him. But he also wanted me to ask this: his sister was walking around Northampton once and you guys pulled over and asked her for directions to a radio station; and he's convinced that she inspired that song about the band driving around. Oh! No, I think I can remember what that song was about and it was a radio station in the Midwest. We unfortunately completely failed to show up for a radio promotion. It was really awful, actually. They were doing a radio promotion at a record store and there was a big crowd there and we had not been informed or there was some horrible mix-up at our office. And it was a long time ago but it was really unfortunate that we found out about it and then we couldn't get there in time, because we were nowhere close to it. And we didn't have proper directions and it was just super drag.

I like to ask people if they have any thoughts about what happens after death... I think about death. I'm in the school of that's all there is you don't get anything after that. Unless what you mean by that is what happens around you to other people after that. But I suspect what you mean is what happens to a person after they die. Sadly, it's over. It's the end. You are fortunately shielded from whatever mean things people say about you after you're dead.

Well I'm looking forward to the Celebrate Brooklyn show! I think I've seen you guys there every time. Oh, great! That's cool. We've played there a lot—somebody pointed out we are pretty much there every three years like clockwork. We're very very pleased we get to do that because we've been around for a long time. It's kind of crazy. For a bunch of old guys, we're feeling like we haven't been kicked out of the music scene yet and that's pretty gratifying.