That 1 Guy
"Funky Bean," "Buttmachine," Mustaches and Laser beams. It reads like a page out of a Dr. Seuss book, but for Mike Silverman, better known as That 1 Guy, it is just the reality he was searching for.
At 150-200 live shows each year people gather to see his mad scientist at work, curiously watching as That 1 Guy plugs an electric chord into the heel of a cowboy boot and transforms it into an instrument. He howls and the audience joins him like a pack of coyotes. They even chime in for the song "Weasel Pot Pie," offering rhymes to finish a line about "cinnamon scones": Twilight Zones? Al Capones? Frank Stallones? That 1 Guy laughs and offers the grin of a Cheshire cat. Here is a man who loves his job.
Silverman's back story is not dissimilar to other musicians: he grew up a music geek, influenced by his jazz musician father, and enrolled in San Francisco Conservatory of Music before joining the jazz scene himself as a sought-after percussive bassist. This is where the similarities end, though, and where That 1 Guy began. "In my case, being a bass player, I just felt very restricted by the instrument itself," he says. "I've always wanted to sound different and have my own sound. I was headed that way on the bass, but for me to fully realize what I was hearing in my head sonically I was going to have to do it my way."
That 1 Guy set off on his own, challenging the idea of what a one-man band can and should be. Rather than altering and adding on to the bass, he started from scratch, conceptualizing and creating the Magic Pipe. Standing at seven-feet-tall, the collection of swiveling pipes, metal gears, bass strings and electronic buttons forms the shape of a harp, but is played like a futuristic gutbucket.
With his curious instrument, creative performances and abundant talent, That 1 Guy soon caught the attention of promoters around the world and began touring heavily, wowing crowds at Big Day Out, Glastonbury, Monterrey Jazz Festival, Lowlands, Wakarusa and numerous other festivals.
Is he strange? Perhaps. But as Billboard noted, "In the case of Mike Silverman's slamming, futuristic funk act… the normal rules of biology just don't apply." It suits That 1 Guy just fine.
"I like being my own person," he says. "I didn't set out to be a weirdo but I'm starting to embrace it."