Squirrel Nut Zippers Discuss Their Success

KURT: Also marching to a very different drummer is a new band from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, called "Squirrel Nut Zippers." The name might lead you to expect a lot of things, but probably not the old-timey jump-and-jive the group pumps out. "Hell," the single off the band's album, "Hot," pretty much states the case.

TOM MAXWELL, Vocals, Guitar: I think it's [the music] indescribable because there's so much going on you can't say the Squirrel Nut Zippers sound like 1933 and they play their saxophone like the guys did in 1933. We're just all over the board and we'll throw in stuff that's got very strong dixieland or 20s horn band roots and then instantly switch to --

CHRIS PHILLIPS, Drums: -- a Stax-Volt, Motown, whatever.

MAXWELL: To us, all the musical styles and gestures we put in the songs are appropriate and intuitively fit.

KEN MOSHER, Guitar, Saxophone, Ukulele: It was really kind of a bunch of band members from different bands

get together and have a summer project and do a little art project... Here we are.

MAXWELL: Once we started getting the Olympics and certainly the Inaugural Ball, that's when my parents... My parents have always been behind the thing, but they thought I could actually make some money off of it.

MTV: The money could start rolling in now that the Zippers have gone to hell, literally. Their snappy calypso tune about the perils of the afterlife was researched by singer/guitarist Tom Maxwell.

MAXWELL: I was just reading this book about the history of hell and I was just reading all this stuff that I didn't know about hell's role in our culture and all these other cultures. There used to be traveling morality plays where they would go to each town to set up, and they would do things from the Bible, and after a while they just stopped doing heaven. And hell got more and more elaborate and they had all of these costumes and smoke bombs going off. Finally the church

just made them stop 'cause it was all hell and the devils were farting, cracking jokes and the whole things was completely burlesque after a while. People just ate it up.

KURT: Squirrel Nut Zippers will be hitting the road at the end of the month. Keep an eye out.