Song of the Week: That’s A Lie

For some reason, our video for “That’s A Lie” has disappeared from the interwebs, which is a shame, since we made some crappy videos, and that one was far and away the least crappiest.

So we’ve taken the liberty of rectifying the situation with this here fifth-generation copy. It will also live permanently on our Videos page.

The cover tune came about in the first place because we were listening to LL Cool J’s Radio album (well, cassette, actually) in the van somewhat obsessively, and every time “That’s a Lie” came on we’d all remark on how much like a Too Much Joy song it seemed, lyrically.

So we punked it up a little, made up our own suburban lies, and wrote a new third verse (my dad really did used to tell me, “Never tattle, never lie,” usually when I ran to him after my older brother had just punched me in the face for being younger than him). When we played the song live, it had a choreographed dance routine, which we thankfully did not film for the video.

LL Cool J did the shoot as what I can only assume was a favor for our shared PR maven, Leyla Turkkan. Years later we ran into him at the Mondrian Hotel in L.A. and talked to him like we were buddies. He was pretty clearly mystified, so we reminded him about the video, and he said, “Oh, yeah, those Too Much Joy guys.”

We figured some poor shmoe at MTV would have to slow down the part with all the text on the screen to make sure we weren’t cursing or telling kids to kill themselves, so we included a message just for him telling him his job was kind of lame and he should quit. Years later we ran into that guy, too, though not at the Mondrian. He came up to us after a show and told us we were right, some shmoe had indeed had to scroll through all the verbiage frame by frame, and he was that guy. He hadn’t quit, but he’d appreciated the offer to come tour with us. He was less enamored of the bits in Latin, which he’d had to translate to make sure they didn’t include curses or instructions for kids to kill themselves, either.

It all seemed pretty hilarious at the time.

The track itself was recorded at Radio Tokyo in Venice Beach, California, along with the rest of Son of Sam I Am. I think the sessions lasted six weeks. I had to fly to Maine in the middle of them to watch my mom get married, which I was not very pleased about (though I was less displeased than my younger brother, who got drunk and punched the groom after the rehearsal dinner).

I don’t know why I’m making my family sound like brawling maniacs. There was very little punching among us, if you average it all out over twenty or thirty years.

Anyway, the point is that when I returned to California, the band had laid down the harmonica, which was played by some guy they saw in some restaurant, but who turned out to be a relatively well-known harmonica dude, and who later recorded the theme to Roseanne.

And it sounded awesome.


  1. I think I remember that dance at the start of the song. It was what Big Daddy Kane used to do at the start of his songs (hand one shoulder, remaining hand on the other, etc).

    Funny video. Outstanding cover. The final line of the song is still offensively funny.

  2. I think this video was my introduction to TMJ, I saw it on my local public channel. My life has never been the same since. Damn you Colorado Public Television!!!

  3. The theme to Roseanne sounded awesome?
    That’s a lie.
    Saw you guys play at the WOXY (the now defunct 10 yr. anniversary show in Cincy in the early 90’s. I was there to shoot video of the band for my college TV station. Great set! If I remember correctly Tim was wearing a WWII German soldier uniform. He had a squirt gun which he used on a large bald security guard standing in front of the stage. I had never heard of you before then, but after I was a fan. My now 18yr old singer son grew up on TMJ and definitely has a little Tim Q. stage style in him!

  4. I, uh… can’t help but notice you omitted the last “lie” that is stated. Heh heh, probably for good reason, I suppose.

  5. First saw TMJ at the Green Parrot in NJ. Dragged my friend w/the promise of sweet tunes & lots of women. I think it was Labor day or some holiday.
    There might have been 9 or 10 people there in the entire place. Band was completely drunk. Tim was threatening to take off his clothes. I make a bathroom trip & when I get back my friend tells me he did it. Full monty. (Kind of glad I missed it.)
    We leave and I find my Son of Sam tape and crank it. He’s like, ‘thats not the same band!’ I’m like I told you! They’re awesome.
    Thankfully they learned to play drunk (or drink less)

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