Local ‘Rope Man’ feels the pull of reality TV
BY MIKE THOMAS email@example.com May 10, 2012 6:30PM
Graham Czach pulls ropes to play guitars and percussion instruments during his take on “Moves Like Jagger” before “America’s Got Talent” judges.
Updated: June 14, 2012 8:05AM
What do you get when you take a bunch of acoustic guitars and electric basses, cymbals, a kick drum, a hi-hat and a snare drum — up to 15 instruments in all — and lash them together with strategically positioned rope and PVC piping?
Beats us. But Chicagoan and professional musician Graham Czach taught himself to play it.
Not only that, but “Rope Man” — as Czach, 32, has dubbed himself — scored a spot on NBC’s popular variety show “America’s Got Talent.”
After his video audition passed muster with producers, he performed Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger” for celebrity judges Howie Mandel, Sharon Osbourne and newbie Howard Stern. His pre-taped segment could air as early as Monday, when “AGT’s” new season starts. Or it might not air at all; last-minute cuts aren’t uncommon.
“Howie really liked it and he understood it, I think, and saw the potential,” Czach says of his “crazy side project.” “But over all, [they] didn’t think it was a million-dollar act in Vegas.”
In order for his invention to function more easily and musically, Czach says, it needs a pricey technological overhaul. At present, though, he’s a bit short on funds.
Ideally, instead of pre-tuning his axes and slapping them with makeshift mallets, he’d be able to “play multiple notes, multiple rhythms.”
And doing so would be far less taxing.
“It was very laboring physically,” says Czach, a regular performer at Chicago clubs who wears fingerless black gloves to grip an array of ropes like a puppeteer. “I’d practice for five, 10, 15 minutes and it felt like I was practicing for hours. It almost made me physically ill because it was so hard to do.”
The chaotic environment at his “AGT” outing didn’t help matters.
“I think the performance went OK,” he says. “I couldn’t really tell — it was so loud and crazy that I don’t even know what happened. On top of trying to concentrate and perform the whole thing and get it together and load [everything] onstage and do all this stuff in way less time than was needed, you can’t hear what you’re doing. You’ve got 5,000 people yelling at you — either cheering you on or booing you. It was just madness.”
Still, he’s grateful for the shot — even if Rope Man is an unlikely candidate for long-term residency at the Mirage.
“It was just a really fun, experimental thing I did that I never thought would [get] to be on national television. And regardless of what happens, I think it’s pretty awesome that I made it that far.”
Graham Czach and his band will appear at 8 p.m. May 18 at the Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace. Tickets, $7-$10; 21+ over. For information visit www.abbeypub.com.