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.