Pizza or Ice Cream?

by James Adams

This is the third installment of Memory Mondays, where we give you a glimpse into XY Unlimited’s turbulent, glorious, and frequently embarrassing past. You can compound our shame or bolster our pride by leaving a comment below. 

[We published this scandalous secret as part of our May 2013 bid to be #1 on ArtistSignal]

Ian Malcolm

Little known fact: Macain does a jaw-dropping Jeff Goldblum impression. We are perpetually impressed.

Today, we finally reveal how XY stays entertained for entire 4-8 hour car rides on tour. Once Macain stops doing Jurassic Park character impressions, it can get pretty mind-numbing to stare at miles of open road; we’ve collected the following standbys to ease the long hours:

1) “This or that.” A simple but effective game of elimination, this or that pits our favorite things against one another to see what we truly value. For example, I might ask “basketball or football,” to which Michael answers football, Macain answers basketball, and Zack answers basketball just to piss off Michael because he has no preference. Basketball wins, and football is eliminated – FOREVER. Basketball then goes up against, say, unicorns, unicorns win (obviously) and basketball is also then eliminated. Unicorns then do battle against something else…you get the idea. Endlessly entertaining!


Would you? WOULD YOU????

2) “Would you for $50 a day?” For $50 a day, would you drink an entire gallon of milk every day? Would you chase a rabid gerbil through your house until you caught it with your bare hands – every day? Would you watch the same episode of Teletubbies three times a day? When sleepyville starts to hit, we keep one another awake with these important considerations.

3) “Notes from Hell.” Once our brains are mush and we can no longer play games that involve thinking, we resort to more drastic measures: turn on the radio, find a nice pop or country song, and then see who can sing the most awful, insanity-producing note over it. Simple, and deadly.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into our exciting lives on the road. Who knows what wonderful advances in driving entertainment Christian will bring! Of course, we can use new ideas from whoever has them. What do you do to stay entertained when you’re pulling long travel hours?

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Will Canada Greet XY With Fireworks?

by James Adams

This is the third installment of Future Fridays, where you find out what XY Unlimited dreams about when it’s sleeping. Sometimes you can change the future by leaving us feedback about our plans!


Look at all that peninsula!

Vancouver is exactly 1,294 miles away from Los Angeles. Google maps says it would take us 425 hours to walk there, but we’re hoping to drive.

That’s right: XY is currently in the process of booking our first international show (!!!) as part of our November 2013 West Coast tour. Michael is chatting with a Vancouver acapella group right now about setting up a joint performance.  It’s not official yet, but that still qualifies it for Future Fridays material.

Needless to say, we’re excited for this XY milestone. I was pondering this potential show earlier and staring obsessively at the map above, and I noticed some exciting things:

Vancouver Skyline

Dear Canadian Government: it’s not too late to give us the welcome we deserve. Please consider fireworks.

  • Vancouver is right next to Burnaby and Surrey which, though I know nothing about them, sound delightfully British.
  • The entire city is surrounded by water. I took the liberty of finding some actual images of the city, and they look amazing. Case in point, our new blog header.  –>
  • Canada’s major interstate highways are marked with a fancy green and white maple leaf logo. Excellent choice!

The possibility of our band crossing a border has already got us thinking about where we might go next. Should we tour the African Savannah on the backs of Rhinos? Should we make a Bollywood movie about “Carmen” using an all-Indian cast? Should we somehow become really, really popular in Japan?

What do you think?

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Leveling Up, XY Style

by James Adams

This is the third installment of What’s Happening Wednesday, where you find out what XY Unlimited is doing right now – or at least right now-ish.

This Autumn is full of dangerous quests, and we’re working hard every day to make sure we’re ready for all of the boss battles we might encounter. Here are three things we’re doing this week to increase our strength, endurance, and magic abilities:

Getting Pumped

Getting PUMPED UP in a USC practice room thanks to Christian’s ninja moves.

1) We’re making new music and tightening up our usual material for the tour. Christian continues to learn parts at such an astonishing rate that scientific research teams from around the globe have begun to attend our rehearsals and take measurements while he sings.

2) We’re finishing up the ArtistSignal rewards from our May/June 2013 campaign. After a live-streamed voter concert plus nearly 200 custom haikus, Happy Birthdays, CDs, and Twitter shoutouts, we’re down to less than 100 t-shirts, postcards, notes, lyric sheets, and cover videos. I just sent the t-shirts, and Michael will send the last of the lyric sheets before Friday. If you’re still waiting for a reward, hang in there – we’re almost through!


Not even gonna lie – this is what I imagine when I think of expanding the XY team.

3) We’re adding members to our small but fearsome team of XY allies. I won’t name names yet, but pretty soon we might have a talented individual helping to manage and unify our online content. That means instead of me writing these blogs, this new team member will build a robot with my personality to write them so I can drink root beer floats in Tahiti, take spear fishing lessons, and receive massages from an extremely overweight Tahitian man.

Sigh…well, I can always dream.

On a serious note: we’re thinking about putting together an XY street team, and we need a good name for it. We know some of you out there are creative types. If XY puts together a street team, what should it be called? Let us know in a comment below!

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The XY Lemonade Affair

by James Adams

This is the second installment of Memory Mondays, where we give you a glimpse into XY Unlimited’s turbulent, glorious, and frequently embarrassing past. You can compound our shame or bolster our pride by leaving a comment below. 

[We published this infamous tale as part of our May 2013 bid to be #1 on ArtistSignal]

One of XY’s most tragic moments came tumbling out of a plastic lemonade pitcher.

Color coordinated outfits

Look at that color coordination!

It happened back in our early street-performing days, when we would set up our instruments on Downtown Santa Monica’s gritty streets every weekend and play for passers-by. It’s hard to get someone’s attention on a busy street, and we frequently tested new ways to make folks pause momentarily and listen to our music: Popular covers, cute stuffed animals, comics featuring band members, exceptionally color-coordinated outfits…we experimented quite a bit, and occasionally got the desired results.

One day, Michael mentioned that he had a top-secret idea, and, in his Michael way, would only tell us that it involved lemonade. Unbeknownst to us, Michael planned to make an entire pitcher of homemade lemonade –for the first time in his life – and offer free cups to anyone who stopped and listened to us. Since he had never made lemonade before, Michael had no idea how many lemons or how much juicing it takes to fill an entire pitcher (hint: a lot, and a lot). He began his lemon quest at 11pm; four sweat-and-lemon-juice covered hours later, Michael finally possessed a beat-up plastic pitcher filled to the brim with organic lemonade. He carefully recorded the lemonade’s ingredients in brown sharpie on sickly yellow scotch tape plastered to the pitcher’s exterior.

XY Lemonade

A lemonade product that takes “DIY” design to the next level!

We had an early performance scheduled that morning, and Michael and I had agreed to meet beforehand to pick up the band’s sound equipment. I arrived at our storage location right on time. In an unusual turn of events, Michael did not – in fact, he was quite late. I called multiple times and received no answer, but I assumed he would show up shortly, so I took the time to lightly snooze in my front seat. I awoke as Michael’s silver SUV screeched past my left side and swung into a parking spot a few cars in front of me. I sensed trouble. Sure enough, I heard the car door open, something clatter to the ground, and Michael scream an unspeakable expletive at the top of his lungs, shattering the morning tranquility and undoubtedly frightening a number of neighborhood sleepers.

Inigo Montoya

“Fezzik! Fezzik! Listen. Do you hear? That is the sound of ultimate suffering. My heart made that sound when Rugen slaughtered my father. Michael Kohl makes it now.” – Inigo Montoya, from The Princess Bride

It turns out that Michael couldn’t pick up my phone calls because he had been holding his precious lemony beverage wedged between his left thigh and the car door, left hand on top of the lid, right hand on the wheel. He placed it there after a couple of bad spills had already depleted the hard-won liquid, which prompted him to find a safe haven for his treasure. When he arrived at our meeting point, however, sleep deprivation, anxiety, and frustration conspired against him: he opened the car door without thinking and, in a single moment, gravity foiled Michael’s hard work and high hopes. Not to mention a good pitcher of lemonade.

Michael spiraled into an unshakable gloom. Out of respect for our wounded comrade and because Sri Lankan parade floats had unexpectedly taken over our usual performance space (true story, it was a Sri Lanka festival), we called off that day’s performance. Just as we were all about to leave with our heads hung low, saying our goodbye’s around Michael’s car, he burst out laughing with the abandon only three hours of sleep and utter disappointment can bring. Chuckles soon overwhelmed us all, and before we parted ways we exchanged hugs and smiled hard at life’s ridiculousness.


Life gave us lemons, and we made lemonade. Then we spilled all of the lemonade, but we had each other. So that was alright.

Do you have your own “lemonade” story? Have you ever had to laugh off an utter disaster? Tell us about it below!

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Will XY Ride a Buffalo?

by James Adams

This is the second installment of Future Fridays, where you find out what XY Unlimited dreams about when it’s sleeping. Sometimes you can change the future by leaving us feedback about our plans. 


Apparently, this state really likes carving the likeness of famous bands into their mountains. I see potential here for XY.

We just booked the first date of our Fall 2013 West Coast tour – in Vermillion, South Dakota!

That’s right, we’ll be playing for a healthy helping of buffalo, and maybe a few select students, in the University of South Dakota’s Muenster Center at 8pm, Wednesday 11/13. Okay, okay, so it’s not EXACTLY the West Coast; but c’mon, we weren’t about to turn down an invite to knock two new states off of our touring list. (We fly into Omaha, NE)

Top five things we’re excited about for this first date:

Bison Attack

What Michael and Christian probably think is going to happen in South Dakota.

Buffalo Ride.

What I hope will happen in South Dakota.

  1. We’ll get to show off our new band member for the first time.
  2. I will try to catch and ride a buffalo.
  3. Michael and Christian will probably try to prevent me from catching and riding a buffalo.
  4. We’ll get to name our rental car something badass and Western – like the “XY Rodeo Warrior.”
  5. We might actually find a not-creepy hotel to sleep in, which wasn’t so easy in rural North Dakota.

Know something else we should be excited about in South Dakota? Want to suggest another bizarre stop for our West Coast tour? Leave a comment for us below!

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Band Member Lost, Band Member Found

by James Adams

This is the second installment of What’s Happening Wednesday, where you find out what XY Unlimited is doing right now – or at least right now-ish.

Losing a band member is hard work.

First off, all of your pictures immediately become obsolete. Sure, you could just photo shop new faces onto existing bodies, but some authenticity is lost along the way. And you have to watch out for all sorts of snags like physique, skin color, amount of body hair…it’s just not worth it. New pictures are your only option.

Los Angeles

Look at that – you can almost see the talented musicians crawling around, can’t you?

Then you have to find a new band member good enough to replace the old one. NOT an easy task. Right now you might be saying to yourself, “but XY lives in LA, a city crawling with ambitious twenty-somethings who can sing, play an instrument, learn complex harmony parts, and not creep out everyone they meet on tour!” Well, my friend, go put an ad on craigslist to that effect and have fun finding out just how wrong you are. 😉

Finally, when a band member leaves, you realize that you’ve actually spent more time over the last year with that person than with most of your immediate family, and that you are REALLY going to miss that band member, no matter how much you wanted to punch him that one time he took a really embarrassing picture of you sleeping.


We thought Jamey looked good in the jacket. What do you think?

Somehow, we’ve dealt with this process four times now. We lost our first high tenor, Felipe, to love (and marriage and responsible fatherhood). Tony, our subsonic bass, got fed up with Los Angeles and fled back home to Western MA for his sanity. Jamey, our replacement for Felipe, decided that he no longer looked good in the XY blazer. He could not be convinced otherwise, though we tried to bolster his self-esteem with all the compliments we could muster.

But this isn’t Memory Mondays, this is What’s Happening Wednesdays, and what’s happening is this: after long consideration, Zack decided to step down from full-time status and pursue a more stable artistic/philanthropic/sustainability-oriented job. Either that, or buy a yurt and become a farmer. This seeming contradiction comes as no surprise to those who know Zack’s brain.

Zack leaving the main orbit has been hard, and it’s gonna take everything we’ve got to recover. However, there are two things you should know:

1) XY will go on. I can say this with confidence because

2) By some miracle, we already found an amazing new band mate.

Christian Stranne

That soul. That torment. That red curtain.

The mighty hand of Zeus guided USC grad Christian Stranne to our ad on Craigslist. We’ve received approximately fifty replies now, and Christian’s immediately stood out: he sings, he plays keyboard like a boss, he writes songs, he arranges for a cappella groups, AND he’s a sociable, friendly, intelligent human being. We invited him into a rehearsal a few weeks ago, and within an hour we had cranked out one of (I think) the best cover arrangements we’ve ever crafted. Pure magic.

We’re still waiting for Ashton Kutcher to show up, tell us we’ve been punk’d and take Christian away to the sound of laughter and applause. You’ll be hearing more about our newest full-time member in the months to come, and no doubt watching him onstage with us once the new XY is ready for the world.

Zack, meanwhile, will join the ranks of XY warriors past, who we still call on from time to time to fight for the cause. We are blessed to have many such team mates out there, and to have such amazing fans that help lift us through tough times.

XY Warriors

XY Warriors from across the ages [clockwise from bottom-right]: Ian Brekke, Robert Dietz, Felipe Garcia, Tony Belanger, Brian Kim, and Zack Avshalomov.

We can’t wait to share what this new configuration has in store. Have any questions about our plans or what we’re doing to prepare for a whole tour with a new member? Ask away below.

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“A Really Weird Threesome”

by James Adams

This is the first installment of Memory Mondays, where we give you a glimpse into XY Unlimited’s turbulent, glorious, and frequently embarrassing past. You can compound our shame or bolster our pride by leaving a comment below. 

This bit of XY lore was published as part of our May 2013 bid to be #1 on ArtistSignal:

We have a really hard time describing our genre. Have you ever experienced the same problem (with us)? Here are some catch phrases we’ve tried in the past, and why they didn’t work:

Team of heroes

Our first band slogan was almost as awkward as this photo.

1) “Five voices. One unforgettable sound” [obsolete, movie-trailer-esque]

2) “We’re like a modern Crosby Stills Nash and Young meets Toto!” [Crosby who Nash and Dorothy’s dog?]

3) “Like a cappella with instruments!” [a shocking amount of people only heard “a cappella,” stopped listening, then later mentioned how much they loved XY Unlimited, their favorite a cappella group! facepalm.jpg]

4) “Fallout boy meets Glee!” [our current go-to. Much to our chagrin, fans of one frequently do not like the other. Insert jazz hands of failure.]

Stephanie Casstevens

Stephanie Casstevens, blogger/college booking agent/ninja/friend.

Fortunately, our great Illinois ally Stephanie recently came up with this gem on her blog:

“…it’s like an acapella group, Miles Davis and a sexy boy band you loved in high school had a really weird threesome that made a beautiful musical baby called XY Unlimited.”

Fitting? We think so. What do you think?

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Will XY Help Abandoned Pigeons?

by James Adams

 This is the first installment of Future Fridays, where you find out what XY Unlimited dreams about when it’s sleeping. Sometimes you can change the future by leaving us feedback about our plans!

A wise man ponders.

A wise man ponders.


A wise man once asked the universe, “what be a band if that band doth not tour?”

The universe did not respond. “Exactlieth,” said the wise man.

Starting mid-November 2013, we’ll be leaving on our second journey up the West Coast. Last time, we made a beeline to Spokane, WA for our first National Association of Campus Activities (NACA) showcase, which also netted us our first college gigs. It’ll be hard to top that tour, which included:


Yes, it’ll be hard to top that tour…but lord knows we’ll do our best. In order to maximize our chances of awesomeness, we’ve assembled the following objectives:

  •  Play for rescued pigeons at the MickaCoo Pigeon & Dove Rescue. Attempt to become their spokesband.
  • Join forces with some local a cappella groups to break the record for most singers onstage with XY at one time.
  • Return to the western-themed Medford ballroom, and break our attendance record by getting the entire city to show up!
  • Find the dream of the ’90s in Portland.

As you can see, we haven’t got this 100% figured out yet. Do you live on or have you ever been to the West Coast (CA, OR, WA…and maybe AZ)? Know a great venue nearby? Know a great coffee shop, pizza place, or other untraditional venue that might love some XY Unlimited? Do you think we’re doomed? Let us know in a comment below!

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Seven Days of Root Beer – The Sprecher Challenge

by James Adams

Sprecher root beer

Twenty four bottles of sweet, root-y goodness, fresh from America’s dairyland.

This is the first installment of What’s Happening Wednesday, where you find out what XY Unlimited is doing right now – or at least right now-ish.

Isn’t it thrilling to get a care package in the mail? If you’ve ever been to summer camp, attended college, or attracted a stalker, you’ve probably felt those butterflies of anticipation as you open the cardboard packaging and set eyes on the delicious/much needed/hopefully-at-least-harmless contents within.

Some diehard friends of ours from Waukesha County Technical College in WI recently sent us just such a package. When we played a show at their campus this past August they not only spoiled us with love and tacos while we were there, but they also shipped us a hefty mystery box a few weeks later. Though we interrogated and charmed them with every technique in our extensive arsenal, they let slip not a word about its contents.

Sprecher Logo

Happy Sprecher-crow wants you to enjoy a frosty mug!

Upon its arrival at XY headquarters, we eviscerated the shipping tape, tore open the cardboard flaps and peered inside. There before us, carefully packaged into Styrofoam compartments, awaited twenty-four amber bottles of Sprecher Fire-Brewed Gourmet Soda. Two of XYs greatest allies in the Midwest had shipped us their love in the frosty, clinky form of twelve glass-bottled root beers, four cherry sodas, four orange sodas, and four cream sodas.

This is no ordinary soda, mind you: The New York Times voted Sprecher’s the number one root beer in America. And Michael, at least, takes his root beer very seriously. In fact, he asks for it every time we get on a Southwest flight – despite the fact that they never have and still do not carry the beverage. He hopes that his incessant requests will encourage them to reconsider their choice, and Zack finds the pattern so hilarious that he has offered Michael $1 for every time Michael asks a new stewardess for root beer.

So you can understand how sweet and thoughtful this gift was. And we wanted to be thoughtful right back, to show our friends in Wisconsin our appreciation. After taking copious pictures and dancing for joy, we came up with a plan for thoughtfulness: over about a week, we would sample and write short reviews for each flavor of soda we received. We’ll release the reviews on our facebook page starting tomorrow morning, and continue them until next Wednesday. This feat shall henceforth be known as the Sprecher Challenge, and the scribes shall engrave our deeds in the annals of civilization. Or at least someone might share it on Facebook.

Have you ever enjoyed a Sprechers root beer or other soda? Any thoughts or reviews of your own? Think there’s a better root beer out there? Leave a comment and let us know!

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The Dawn of a New Era

The Dawn of a New Era

Okay. It’s time. Our lives are too weird, hilarious, and full of peril to keep to ourselves. Therefore we’re starting a blog. Welcome to XY Adventures!

Look for a new post every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; and leave us comments so we know you’re out there. 🙂

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