Timbuk 3 began life in Madison, Wisconsin and featured husband and wife Pat and Barbara MacDonald and possibly some other musicians. Winters in Wisconsin eventually became more than they could bear, and the duo departed for Austin, Texas.
It isn’t often that a list of members of a group includes an inanimate object, but the pair was without any additional musicians to help out in Austin, and a third member was added to the group: a boombox that supplied the group with beats. Hence the reason they weren’t the Timbuk 2.
After playing in bars in Austin for a few years, the group recorded their first album and a successful single was released: The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades. The record barely got into the top twenty in late 1986, but it did get a lot of airplay on MTV and/or VH1 and has been included on nearly two dozen compilation albums.
While the song can be considered as a paen to STEM students, it does in fact show concern about a dark future filled with nuclear destruction. A VH1 story includes an interview with the song’s author that makes this clear. Even more pointed are some of the lyrics that got left out when the song was recorded.
In keeping with their feelings about the future, the members of the group have refused to license the song for commercial uses…lately, however, the song has begun showing up in movies and television shows!