Armed With Only iPhones, A Rock Band Goes Viral

Armed with only iPhones, an inventive rock band has gone viral by way of the subway.

The Brooklyn band Atomic Tom has scored an Internet hit with its self-created video to the song “Take Me Out.” In the video, the band members ride a New York City subway while performing entirely on iPhones, with apps for each instrument.

In the video, the four crouch on subway seats, specifically the B train while it crosses the Manhattan Bridge. Singer Luke White clutches an iPhone like a microphone, guitarist Eric Espiritu and bassist Philip Galitzine strum chords across iPhone screens like tiny instruments, and drummer Tobias Smith taps on a drum app.

It has been watched by more than 2 million on YouTube since debuting last week.

“All I’ve wanted to do for the past few days is just stare at the YouTube page and keep refreshing it to see how far it will go,” the 29-year-old Espiritu said.

Photo: AP Photo/Universal Republic Records

The band began forming in 2006, and their debut album, The Moment, was digitally released earlier this year by their label, Universal Republic. A physical album release is planned for later this year.

For a young band, finding a way to attract attention via the Internet is as integral as playing a club gig. All of Atomic Tom’s members are Twitter users, too.

“The Internet changed everything,” Espiritu said. “It’s kind of an exciting time because it forces everyone to adjust and be creative and find new ways to get your name out there.”

The idea for the video came from Espiritu’s 24-year-old brother Benjamin, who’s hoping to go to film school.

“I’ve seen a lot of these music apps and they’re kind of fascinating to me,” Benjamin Espiritu said. “I thought, ‘What would happen if iPhones kind of took over the world? If there could actually be a band that played straight through with iPhones, what would that look like?’”

They shot the video – with iPhones also serving as video cameras – on Oct. 8 in three takes, using the last one. The band also tried a performance in Union Square, but were stopped in the midst of playing because they didn’t have a permit.

Conceived to help Atomic Tom garner attention, the video has been an unqualified success.

“The YouTube views are translating into album sales,” Espiritu said. “We’ve seen the jump.”

Their album has flirted with being in the top 10 albums on iTunes, and the single is also charting on iTunes.

Will their fans start cheering for iPhone-only performances?

“We’ve gotten the most exposure and the most fans that we’ve ever gotten through this, so I wouldn’t be surprised if fans are going to want to see that,” Espiritu said. “We’re definitely open to displaying it. Hopefully we won’t be known as only an iPhone band. I think we put on a really good rock ‘n’ roll show with real instruments.”