Start an instrument-free band

We’re pretty late to the game on this one, but on the slim chance you haven’t seen it — check out Atomic Tom performing their song “Take Me Out” on a New York Subway car:

The band’s “stolen instruments” claim is just a concept for the video — their instruments weren’t actually stolen. However, what they show is that a band can produce decent music simply using iPhone apps. (The video was even shot using three iPhone 4s.)

To create your own iPhone band, all you’ll need is $11, some practice, and the following apps:

17 Comments for “Start an instrument-free band”

  1. posted by Vando on

    I also got curious to know how they connected all the stuff to the Macbook that can be seen on the video…

  2. posted by Erin Doland on

    I don’t know if the iPhone cables are feeding data into a program like GarageBand or if the MacBook is simply supplying power to the iPhones so they don’t die half-way through the song. In a recent interview, Atomic Tom said the video was the third take of the song (which also explains the non-interest of the other riders on the Subway). Had they not been able to get the video they wanted in just three takes, I can imagine them thinking they might need extra power to survive filming.

  3. posted by Mary C. on

    That was so cool! 🙂

  4. posted by Molly on

    When I saw the title of this post, I was hoping to see some innovative instruments made out of household objects. Instead, I’m seeing what appears to be a commercial for Apple. I’m sorry these guys lost their instruments (especially the drums because the canned drum sound is atrocious) but this is not a solution, it’s a gimmick.

  5. posted by Living the Balanced Life on

    I think this is pretty cool. Even if they are using electronic instruments, it took a lot of practice and planning to get this right!

  6. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Molly — In our post it clearly states “their instruments weren’t actually stolen.” This is a music video — it’s a gimmick the same way Michael Jackson playing a zombie was a gimmick in “Thriller.”

    And, in my opinion, being able to produce these sounds on hand-held telephones is truly amazing. The science and engineering making it possible is the very definition of innovative. Have you ever seen how large and bulky the original Moog synthesizers were?

  7. posted by PatGLex on

    It’s device multitasking. I don’t have an iPhone, but I do have an iPod Touch that I use for lots of things besides playing recorded music (secondary use), and it does have a piano app on it. I used it last year to practice my part daily on a choral piece that I needed to learn in 3 weeks. I also use the calculator at work (it’s more handy than my work one), and the timer is awesome. I think I may have to take this idea to some folks in my choir and see what they think. Thanks for the link.

  8. posted by Erin Stanfill on

    Your costs don’t include the price of the iPhones themselves and the monthly fees associated with them. This is only cheaper than real instruments if everyone in your band already has an iPhone. Once you pay for a guitar, you don’t have to spend > $50 every month to continue using it.

  9. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Erin Stanfill — Fair enough. But, if you already have an iPhone, $11 in apps is considerably less expensive than the price of a piano, bass, guitar, drum set, microphone, mixer, amplifiers, and a video camera to shoot your next music video. And, don’t forget, there are continuous expenses related to musical instruments — guitar and bass strings, picks, piano tuning, drum sticks, drum head replacement, humidifiers, etc.

  10. posted by Robert on

    Erin: You don’t have to pay $50+/mo to keep using an iPod Touch, and this video could have been produced identically as well using four of those instead, or iPhones with unpaid bills and disconnected accounts. Absolutely no monthly fees, or additional services, are required to run “fake instrument” apps. The money you’re referring to is for making phone calls – a task which I didn’t see occurring, nor needing to, anywhere in this video.

  11. posted by JJ on

    I think it’s a very clever way of using a device you already own. Neat video!

  12. posted by Molly on

    @Erin: You’re right, I missed that line in the post about their instruments not actually being stolen. My apologies.

    I can definitely see the value of an app that allows you to practice a musical piece on the go. When I was in a band (ages ago) I would have loved a piano app so I could have played outside of our practice space. But I don’t see this as a solution to fully replace instruments.

  13. posted by Nacho on

    Why is my last message erased?, censorship?

  14. posted by Julia1060 on

    Erin, thanks for finding such unique and interesting pieces to share. I really appreciate the thought and effort you put into the site and these conversations – I’ve been a follower for some time. Keep writing!

    As an artist, I’d say that they have instruments – their iPhones. Certainly there are limitations, but fantastic opportunities as well. Creativity always finds a way. Bravo!

  15. posted by Leonie on

    This was way cool!! Thanks for sharing!

  16. posted by Volker on

    There’s a big differences between instruments and electronical gadgets which make noise.

    Ask a piano-player why they don’t play on a keyboard, they have multiple reasons, including the feeling and behavior of the instrument. There are keyboard-like electrical pianos, but the keys act like on a normal keyboard. The next point is how the music-waves behave… And this is not just with pianos.

    A friend practice alone while practicing for his band with his iPhone (not on his iPhone), but I wouldn’t believe if some real musicians would “Start an instrument-free band”.

  17. posted by April on

    I wonder how many people on the train thought they were a bunch of random dudes being annoying, even if it was talented annoying-ness. 😉

    (I.e., I wonder if any of them were surprised to find out later this was a real band, not just kids singing something they heard on the radio.)

Comments are closed.