Imagine the brainchild of Dr. Seuss, Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa, Stanley Kubrick and Rube Goldberg, and you begin to understand the spectacle of a That 1 Guy performance by Berkeley, CA-based, classically trained musician Mike Silverman. As inventor and player of The Magic Pipe, That 1 Guy’s show has to be seen to be believed, as he single-handedly (and foot-edly) plays his amazing instrument, made out of miked steel pipes with a single, thick bass string wired from top to bottom, not to mention an Appalachian handsaw, an electric cowboy boot and belching smoke.
Combining elements of classical music with electronica, Silverman puts his classical training to good use creating music that is ethereal, gothic and heart pounding. “It’s pretty serious,” says Silverman, about his one-man concert performance, equal parts music, technology, science, art and spectacle and suitable for audiences of all ages, as he uses his hands and feet to create an industrial tribal rhythm that must be seen and heard to be believed. “There’s a lot to take in. When people see me play, they just intuitively get it.”
That 1 Guy will launch his spring concert tour at Seattle’s Crocodile Club, with West Coast dates then moving on to festivals throughout the summer. The shows will coincide with the June 26th release of his second album, The Moon is Disgusting, the follow-up to his critically acclaimed Righteous Babe debut, Songs in the Key of Beotch.
The album was recorded over the summer of ’06 with veteran Bay Area engineer Karl Derfler, who has previously worked with such eccentrics as Tom Waits, Roky Erickson and Daniel Johnston. “The album was originally conceived as the soundtrack to an animated film I wanted to make,” he explains. “I love music that takes you on a trip, a journey.”
Silverman has gone on his own world voyage as That 1 Guy, with performances around the globe, Edinburgh, Scotland’s prestigious Fringe Festival, receiving the Tapwater Award for Best Musical Act, as well as Istanbul and Australia, where he is a revered folk hero, regularly selling out venues. “So much of my music has an indigenous, tribal rhythm feel to it,” he says, explaining his popularity Down Under, where The Magic Pipe is often compared to the Aussie didgeridoo. “And there’s this sort of tubular, pipe-shaped vibe that seems to make perfect sense there.”
His audiences range from psychedelic warriors to families of all ages. Last year, he embarked on a five-week jaunt with Guns N’ Roses guitarist Buckethead in which the two collaborated nightly. “We really got out there and had a good time,” says Silverman. “He brought things out of me musically I don’t bring out of myself.” A That 1 Guy concert is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, like taking a trip around the world without leaving your seat.