Two weeks into the 1990s, two Brooklynites named John released a clever, eclectic, blissfully quirky collection of 19 tracks called Flood on Elektra Records\u2014and they did this at a time when major label rosters were still primarily comprised of proven pop stars, hair-metal heavies, and R&B icons. They Might Be Giants\u2019 quintessential third LP landed on record store shelves 30 years ago on January 15, ultimately becoming something of a zany presage for the impending alt-rock wave that had only just started to billow. RELATED: TMBG's John Flansburgh Reflects on Flood 30 Years Later: "It Was an Exciting Time" Rife with obscure pop references, thought-provoking tongue-in-cheek lyrics, a cornucopia of instrumentation, and wildly unpredictable melodies, this fun, addictive, genre-embracing album from They Might Be Giants\u2014longtime friends John Linnell and John Flansburgh\u2014would introduce the world to the morbid, metaphysical genius of \u201cDead,\u201d the polka pulse of \u201cParticle Man,\u201d the \u201860s surf-rock vibes of \u201cTwisting,\u201d the infectious harmonies of \u201cBirdhouse in Your Soul,\u201d and \u201cIstanbul (Not Constantinople),\u201d a cover song no respectable \u201890s mixtape was complete without.\u00a0 POLL: Which TMBG Album Is the Best? Three decades later, Flood\u2014the introduction to They Might Be Giants for many fans\u2014still holds up and retains the bad-ass distinction of being one of the only albums released in all that time to have its own opening theme song. To mark the 30th anniversary of this offbeat record, which continues to be the college radio darlings\u2019 best-selling offering, we reached out to several musicians for their thoughts on Flood, including artists who\u2019ve cited the experimental studio set and its creators as a source of inspiration for their own works. The following reflections are in their own words. Chris Carrabba Dashboard Confessional lead singer and guitarist Dave Bean Flood was a really important record for me. I had Lincoln and I was super, super, super into They Might Be Giants, and I remember that Flood came out and I think it was my friend Sari who\u2019d gotten it and we all went to her house\u2014it was 10 of us, and we sat around listening to it while she dubbed copies from CD to tape for all of us. By the time I got my tape, I\u2019d already had the album memorized. I was such a fan, but there was something about Flood that was such a leap forward. Before it came out, I remember they released the video, and it was the first time\u2014and it wasn\u2019t in heavy rotation or anything\u2014it is the first time I can remember sitting all day to see the video played on MTV. So, we got this record, and we just devoured it. I remember when \u201cTheme From Flood\u201d came on \u2026 it\u2019s, like, truly extraordinary. I can\u2019t think of another album that prepares you in totality to be, like, completely and utterly absorbed into this record\u2014so much so that many years later, on The Wire Tapes, I replicated every note and tone and converted the \u201cTheme From Flood\u201d into the album\u2019s opener. Then there\u2019s \u201cBirdhouse in Your Soul.\u201d I take my cassette home to start learning the song I heard sparingly on MTV. \u201cI am going to learn this,\u201d I say\u2014and if you need to know every chord that exists, they\u2019re on that song. It\u2019s just absolutely incredible in this beautifully high-minded way. They have this beautiful way of doing a thing\u2014and I can only really think of the Beach Boys \u2026 I would say it\u2019s the Beach Boys, They Might Be Giants, and then the Beatles in doing this\u2014in taking extra complex chordal arrangements and key changes but allowing the melody to anchor it in such a way that anyone can sing along. If you are a musician, you are devouring what they did on Flood. You think, \u201cThere is another level here I can someday reach if I go for it\u201d\u2014which, by the way, I\u2019ve yet to. They Might Be Giants and Beck are similar in the way that they chose to embrace a genre for a moment and explore it for all its worth, without abandoning what they\u2019d learn and just made, but moving it into another genre. There are moments on there that have created indelible Pavlovian responses in me. I can\u2019t hear the phrase \u201cMinimum Wage\u201d without \u2026 I hear exactly what comes next in my head: the whip and the \u201chee-yah.\u201d There\u2019s \u201cYour Racist Friend,\u201d which has a message, but it\u2019s laced in this humor\u2014it\u2019s disarmingly humorous. There are themes of great depth, but there is a sense of humor in there. That song brought me closer to considering things like racial inequality than I was ever going to get from Bob Dylan or protest songs. I wasn\u2019t there yet; I was still very young when this came out.\u00a0 Then there are moments on there where it\u2019s like,\u00a0\u201cTwisting.\u201d I found it fascinating, the tie-back to something I had listened to as a kid\u2014like Buddy Holly. For the first time, it was like, \u201cOh, this stuff has a place in music that is current,\u201d and when I say current, Flood was not current. It was way ahead of its time. That is the beauty of Flood and why we are talking about it and celebrating it now. There was nothing else like it at that time, and because of that, it remains timeless. Damian Kulash OK Go lead singer and guitarist Gus Powell I\u2019m lucky I was a few months away from high school when Flood came out. The angst and self-seriousness of the \u201890s was about to take flight, and I was a model pubescent passenger. But luckily, Flood made it in under the wire, while I could still earnestly lose myself in the surreal, complex world that it created.\u00a0\u00a0 It was angular and melodic, propulsive and immediate, but in a way that felt like it had depth, too. Unencumbered by the snotty concepts of \u201cnovelty\u201d or \u201cquirkiness\u201d that I was about to learn, I didn\u2019t hear genre-hopping or pastiche. The songs were natural outcroppings of a generous, welcoming musical universe\u2014one defined not by a particular sound or set of instruments, but by its warmth and uniqueness.\u00a0 I remember being in the back seat of long family car rides with the cassette looping on my Walkman. The world in the headphones was more lovely, more interesting, and somehow more familiar than the one flying by outside the window. Mike Doughty Soul Coughing lead singer and guitarist from 1992 to 2000 Andrew "Scrap" Livingston It\u2019s been a long time since I listened to Flood from front to back. There\u2019s all these weird chord progressions and these weird time signature things Linnell does. At the time this record came out, I don\u2019t think I even had the language to articulate how much I appreciated it. The \u201cnerd thing\u201d is very unfortunate for those guys, because what they do, it\u2019s art music. Anything that fucking references the Longines Symphonette is fucking gold. It is art music\u2014I listened back to it recently, and I heard a lot of David Byrne in it, which I\u2019d never really connected to.\u00a0 This album was an inspiration for me. Linnell is deeply underrated as a lyricist. Just look at \u201cKiss Me, Son of God\u201d . That is art shit\u2014art with three capital A\u2019s at the beginning. I remember I first heard \u201cDon\u2019t Let\u2019s Start\u201d on MTV in 1986, and then I remember buying the Flood cassette when it came out at Tower Records on Fourth and Broadway\u2014living in the Eugene Lang dorms in Union Square, when Union Square was a riskier proposition.\u00a0 On Flood, \u201cLetterbox\u201d is the one I listen to over and over again. And \u201cDead.\u201d And they are both art shit, this fucking art shit\u2014not fucking \u201c20-sided die nerd shit.\u201d That is art. There is some sophisticated stuff going on there. You can feel a melody moving up the scale as it goes along, and there\u2019s a perfect arc to everything\u2014chordal digressions. Linnell is a guy who is one of the greats, and he has not gotten his due. Roger Lima Less Than Jake bassist Lindsay Carlesen When Flood was released, it ransacked its way through all of the different scenes in my high school. Nerds liked it, cheerleaders liked it, and even my clique of heavy-metal-jacket wearers liked it. There was a joy in singing seemingly out-of-this-world lyrics, and a bond that happened with friends who knew every last word.\u00a0 They Might Be Giants had already created something new on previous records, but Flood seems to bring their unique sound into a cohesive group of songs that had just enough variety that everyone could find their favorite and latch on. \u201cSomeone Keeps Moving My Chair\u201d was the track that I was obsessed with, along with the classics like \u201cBirdhouse in Your Soul\u201d and \u201cParticle Man.\u201d I still know every word on that record, and I feel sorry for anyone that missed out on the fun. Open Mike Eagle Hip-hop artist and comedian Andy J. Scott I have been listening to Flood for 30 years, pretty much. I definitely didn\u2019t hear it when it first came out, but it wasn\u2019t long after that. My introduction to They Might Be Giants was a three-step process. First, I saw the video for \u201cBirdhouse in Your Soul\u201d on MTV on either 120 Minutes or this other show they had, Alternative Nation. I saw that video and it hooked me immediately. I didn\u2019t know who the band was, I just knew I liked the aesthetic. Then, on Tiny Toon Adventures, I remember one of the episodes super randomly was, like, this MTV-type episode and two of the songs they had videos for happened to be \u201cParticle Man\u201d and \u201cIstanbul.\u201d It was wild! The other song was Aretha Franklin or Madonna, and then, just randomly, these two They Might Be Giants songs. I remember \u201cParticle Man,\u201d in particular, just the way they animated it\u2014it hooked me as a kid. And then, a friend of mine in school, they had an older sibling who had Flood and they\u2019d dubbed a tape for me. I was like 10 or 11 years old, maybe 9, and it had Flood on one side and Lincoln on the other. I listened to it over and over again. I was constantly listening to it. I think what I respect the most about They Might Be Giants is how they don\u2019t compromise. Their style has always been true to who they are as human beings. They have never been about trying to chase what\u2019s going on, being trendy or relevant\u2014chart-toppers. They have always made the music they wanted to make, so their biggest influence for me was how to make a career without compromising your aesthetic, which is not easy. I mean, they have made album after album for 30-plus years. For me, \u201cBirdhouse\u201d is my all-time favorite\u2014that was my hook. I hear \u201cTwisting\u201d and it really takes me back to when I was first hearing that album, with the surf-rocky melody. It\u2019s a classic They Might Be Giants song: It sounds happy until you actually listen to what they\u2019re saying. There are some wild break-up songs on those albums. Like \u201cLucky Ball and Chain\u201d\u2014there is a lot of despair there if you listen to what they\u2019re saying. \u201cTwisting\u201d is also really stealthy in that way. I feel like I\u2019ve been listening to this album for so long, I just start singing along with it when it comes on\u2014it is so deep within me. Charlene Kaye (aka KAYE) San Fermin lead vocalist from 2014 to 2019 Deborah Farnault They Might Be Giants are one of the first bands that taught me the importance of irreverence and playfulness in songwriting. I was a teenager when I first heard Flood, learning how to drive in my hometown of Scottsdale, Arizona, playing coffee shops and open mics and in a phase of shamelessly copying all the artists I worshipped in my own early writing.\u00a0 I find it really hard to incorporate humor into lyrics, as you only have words and melody at your disposal to translate a comedic statement as opposed to tone of speech and physicality. That said, I always found myself laughing to songs like \u201cYour Racist Friend\u201d with lyrics like \u201cCan\u2019t shake the devil\u2019s hand and say you\u2019re only kidding.\u201d You know it\u2019s good songwriting when a lyric makes you laugh, but it\u2019s also disturbing and thought-provoking in equal measure.\u00a0 Then there are songs like \u201cParticle Man,\u201d which I tried desperately to find meaning behind as a teenager ... then read interviews as an adult in which John Linnell said, \u201c\u2018Triangle Man\u2019 was based on a friend's observation that Robert Mitchum looked like an evil triangle when he took his shirt off in Night of the Hunter. Nothing else not explicitly stated need be inferred.\u201d\u00a0 Cool. I'm a Virgo\u2014things need to make sense to me, it pleases me when there\u2019s order and meaning\u2014but one of my lessons as a songwriter is that not everything has to make sense, and often, they shouldn't. Thanks for that lesson, TMBG. Chris McCrory Catholic Action singer and guitarist Gemma Dagger At 15, I spent a summer in Spain with my family, and we had a rented car with only two cassette tapes. One was The Best of the Beatles, and the other was Flood. When I first heard \u201cBirdhouse in Your Soul,\u201d I was hooked and promptly spent weeks wearing the poor cassette tape out as we drove around the Spanish countryside, singing along.\u00a0 It is an album that always warms me up with its bright, almost manic melodies and smart songwriting. And in more recent years, \u201cIstanbul\u201d has become a firm favorite in the Catholic Action tour van.