Four absolute bangers that use xylophones, kid you not

This is another in a series of conversations with Tyler B., lead singer and bass player of the punk band ONE PUMP LOTUS.

RED PEN: You said there’s another batch of music you discovered. Tell me about it.

TYLER: Riding back from the last gig in the van, and standing in the rain while we tried to fix the alternator, we drilled down on about the least rocking instrument on the planet. The lamest of the lame. What’s your champion?

RED PEN: The accordion, all the way.

TYLER: Nah, you can, like, embrace the cheesiness of the accordion. I’m talking about xylophone, the absolute top of the mountain for shit you can’t play in a rock band. I mean, two-year-olds grab tiny drummer sticks and smash on those things. So I went looking for bands that figured out how to make the xylophone absolutely bang, which should be impossible.

RED PEN: Show me what you found.

TYLER: I didn’t dig up just one of these unicorns. I have four of these suckers. Four, man. Alright, first up is the Violent Femmes, who went wild with the xylo on GONE DADDY GONE.

TYLER: Second song is Gotye, which I can’t spell or pronounce, so you’ll have to google that or ask ChatGPT to make up a story or whatever. And you know the song. It’s the one you play after a bad breakup to really swim around in a puddle of pity, then you play I WILL SURVIVE by Cake to get jacked up and ready to hit a gig and find somebody cool at the after party.

TYLER: Third song is all synth and xylo, and it’s the one you put on repeat at 4:20 when you need to mellow out for an hour. Because if you aren’t calmed down, or asleep, then you’re on something stronger than caffeine and need to get straight.

TYLER: Last song, and the absolute best Banger with Xylophones, is CRUEL SUMMER by Bananarama–did I say that right?

RED PEN: I hope so. Spell-check cannot help us with pronunciation and ChatGPT will tell us that Bananarama is what happened when the The Gap merged with Banana Republic.

TYLER: All that is over my head. Okay, what makes this even sweeter is this is the big song from THE KARATE KID, the original back when my mom was like twelve, not the remake with kung fu and Jackie Chan that sucked. I mean, Jackie Chan is cool, but how do you spend like a hundred million dollars on a movie that’s a remake of something perfect and pack it full of kung fu–in China–and call it THE KARATE KID? The studio execs who said yes to that thing were doing way too much blow.

So back to the song, which doesn’t just include xylophones as a backing instrument, or ease into them. Nah, they went hard core xylos right off, like they hooked up the biggest amplifiers on the planet to those things, and kept on hitting you with wave after wave of xylos like it’s a musical battering ram. You gotta love it.

RED PEN: Are you incorporating this into your music somehow?

TYLER: Oh yeah. We got this new song that totally integrates xylos with thrashing guitars and booming drums. I’m like totally training on this set we got at Goodwill and Tyler A. swears his uncle knows how to hook those things up to our spare amplifier.

NOWHERE by Black Match is a masterpiece of Badass Acoustic

This is the second in a series of musical conversations with Tyler B.. lead singer and bass player for the punk band ONE PUMP LOTUS.

RED PEN: What song led you down this path of musical discovery you’re calling Badass Acoustic?

TYLER: Just listen to this, okay? It killed me. (Tyler pulls up the following clip on his phone.)

Here’s why I was feeling this one so much: most songs, they’re overproduced, with a fat wall of sound from start to finish.

This song starts off with the singer and the guitar, boom, that’s it. Gritty and raw. Only later do they layer on other instruments, and when the drums kick in, my God, it just hits you.

RED PEN: This band is listed as country in some places, and others call them indie or folk. Why are you coming up with this other label?

TYLER: Because I don’t recognize the power of the media, or the Man, to dictate how you and I talk about music.

And I can tell you this isn’t country, while indie makes me think of politics or people doing their own thing in general–writing books, making art, whatever. Indie could be a local death metal band that doesn’t have a record deal and dresses up in dinosaur costumes. Doesn’t tell you a damned thing about the music, right?

If I tell you it’s Badass Acoustic, there’s no confusion whatsoever.

And this way, you can encompass a lot of music without pigeonholing people. When my uncle Harry passed, we found all these weird plastic things with tapes inside them, and if you shove them into this Pinto that Madison drives, a freaking relic, music still comes out, so we kept popping plastic deals in there and finding Badass Acoustic treasures like big tsunamis by Tori–wait, that’s wrong. Hold it, Little Earthquakes is the album, here we go.

I mean, that album is angry and creative and musical gold. I guess you could pigeonhole her into some kinda genre like Angry Piano Girl, but that’s limiting would things for no reason. Don’t care if it’s a piano, a guitar, or a freaking lute, if the band is mostly acoustic and has that vibe, we’re talking Badass Acoustic.

RED PEN: Why does this music appeal to you so much?

TYLER: It’s like the books and movies I like to watch versus the ones I quit after five minutes. If the whole thing is happy and perfect, or completely predictable, what’s the point?

Don’t give me your standard pop song “baby baby” lyrics or somebody rapping about how cool and successful they are and how many Lambos are in their garage. Give me something that’s interesting and tough and real. A song where somebody’s struggling to get through the day, or to live with their mistakes. A show about a villain who’s bad and can’t change, and there’s no Hollywood ending. Take me someplace that’s raw and emotional and not perfect at all.

That’s what I like about Badass Acoustic, and why we’re experimenting with a new acoustic track. Does this mean learning more than three chords? Yeah, it does. But there’s a freedom in stripping things down and putting that volume knob at three instead of eleven. The audience can hear all my words and when we do add drums, and a secret instrument I can’t talk about, the whole thing builds and builds in a special way.

RED PEN: What’s next for ONE PUMP LOTUS?

TYLER: If we make enough money in these next two gigs, we can pay for a new tranny on the van, and then we’re saving up for some serious studio time to cut the tracks, “White Coffee” and “Decaf.”

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