Have you seen this costumed troupe of musicians playing '20s ragtime around town lately? The Xylopholks don furry animal gear during their unofficial gigs underground, their outfits range from Cookie Monster to a pink gorilla. This Friday catch them at Rockwood Music Hall, and if you're lucky you'll see them on your commute sometime as well—they just received a permit to (legally) play.
How and when did the Xylopholks get started? Everyone asks us where we got the idea. I used to tell people it was a combination of things. Being a xylophonist, someone who likes cute animals, and someone who likes ragtime, it would only seem natural to have this kind of ensemble. However, I think that answer might not be flashy enough. I am working on a new answer involving lucid dreams and a "calling" to fill a void which has been created by the lack of furry ragtime bands. A voice came to me in a dream and said: "You must make the people happy - you must make them dance...with your xylophone." Then the voice came back and said: "don't forget the costumes!"
Can you tell us about any unusual incidents that have taken place underground while you were playing? We play with a suitcase out to let people know they might consider leaving a tip if they enjoy the show. Someone left a banana for us. I decided to leave the banana out in an attempt to "re-gift" the fruit, and a gentleman had gone to pick it up. His pants fell down as he bent over to pick up the banana. That was a little distracting.
If you could play anywhere in the city, where would it be? In your kitchen - is there enough room? We'd love to be the soundtrack while you make cookies. If not your kitchen I'd settle for the Ed Sullivan Theater. I'd like to play on Letterman (or outside the theater might be even better) - but I think we'll wait until our record is out to really start harassing them.
How did the Music Under NY audition go? I think it went well. We got the permit, so it couldn't have gone too poorly. We had a lot of fun even though some reporters at the event made up some details about our lives and printed them the next day.
How hot does it get under those costumes? Very, very...very hot. We just played outside a few weeks ago when it was in the 90's. That was a little bit uncomfortable. People were already uncomfortably hot without wearing costumes, so I think we scared them a little when they saw the band playing.
What will you do now that it's getting hot out there? Pink Gorilla had the idea for everyone to wear bathing suits and just keep the heads on. While that's a nice concept, I think we're just going to sweat. A lot.
Please share your strangest "only in New York" story. Strangest. Hmm...I don't know if anything is really perceived as "strange" here. I think if you asked someone else they might tell you it was when they saw Skunky and Pink Gorilla playing on the subway. I suppose that would make me my strangest story. Does that count?
Which New Yorker do you most admire? I'm a huge fan of Rosita, la Monstrua de las Cuevas. I believe she resides on Sesame Street. I also really admire landlords who do their jobs well.
Given the opportunity, how would you change New York? More xylophones in the school system. A lot more.
Under what circumstance have you thought about leaving New York? Don't tell anyone, but I just got a Fulbright scholarship today. I'll be moving to India for 9 months in the fall. I hope to continue playing furry ragtime xylophone in India, but I'll also be pursuing my study of South Indian Classical music there. I have a feeling the first thing I'll do when I return to New York will be hit up the subway platforms with The Xylopholks. I'm sure I'll miss it a great deal. Well..maybe that would be the second thing I do upon my return. I'll probably first get a slice of pizza and drink some tap water.
Do you have a favorite New York celebrity sighting or encounter? People used to tell me I looked like Andy Dick. I thought I looked like Eliot Fisk (renowned classical guitarist). So when Eliot Fisk came to purchase books at a bookstore I was working at, I said: "Hey, you're Andy Dick!" He declined and wished to continue the transaction on a purely business level. Without hesitation I said: "Ok, then you must be Eliot Fisk," since the only two famous people I thought I looked like were Andy or Eliot. I told him he was my second favorite classical guitarist. I think he was pretty freaked out. I don't think he even lives in New York, but it happened here. It would have been more interesting if Andy Dick was buying the book and I assumed he was Eliot Fisk.
What bands are you currently listening to? Elizabeth and The Catapult's new Verve release "Taller Children," The Green Brothers Xylophone Orchestra, a lot of music from the 1920's..
If you could have any musicians, dead or alive, join the Xylopholks, who would they be? It would be great to play with George Hamilton Green. We play a lot of his music from the 1920's. It's charming music. We've sorta adapted it and made it our own, but it would be an honor to play xylophone duos with him. Hopefully one day I could play well enough that he'd have considered it. I don't know how he would feel about the costume. I think our percussionist, Michael Winograd, would be delighted to play with Tom Waits . We'd want Tom Waits to sing Beyonce's "Single Ladies" as Sasquatch. Tom, do you read this stuff?
What's the best subway line? We play at West 4th on the BDFV downtown platform or the L in Union Square. Wide platforms is the key.
Best cheap eat in the city. Caracas on 7th and 1st Ave. Not exactly a secret though.
Best venue to hear/play music. Rockwood Music Hall. We have a show there this Friday the 22nd at midnight. It's outstanding. Intimate...people listen to the music...the folks running the place are awesome...the waitstaff are polite and seemingly good hearted people. This is an anomaly and we love it.