In the fall of 2010, armed with nothing more than their iPhones, the New York quartet—Luke White [vocals], Philip Galitzine [bass], Eric Espiritu [guitar], and Tobias Smith [drums]—boarded a crowded New York City B train for an "impromptu" performance of their single, "Take Me Out". A captivated subway car watched as they expertly played the song using only their smartphone apps with White singing his heart out from his seat. Being prescient 21st century rockers, they filmed everything and uploaded it to YouTube immediately. The clip became a viral phenomenon, exceeding 5 million views and making "Take Me Out" a bona fide hit. However, that's only a snapshot of the band's journey thus far.
Their Universal Republic Records debut, The Moment, dropped in stores on November 22nd, 2010, and Atomic Tom began to make waves across pop culture beyond the digital realm. They performed "Take Me Out" on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Lopez Tonight, The CBS Early Show, and Rachel Ray, while also appearing on The Today Show, E! News, and Fuse TV’s A Different Spin with Mark Hoppus. The band also toured tirelessly across North America, their on-stage
prowess converting curious concertgoers into die-hard fans.
"Take Me Out" holds a special place in their hearts though. "It's a vulnerable song," reveals White. "It's about letting people into your life and letting them rescue you. It's not easy, but it's something that everyone goes through." That vulnerability pulsates at the heart of Atomic Tom's electro-infused pop rock party. They even managed to instill a little bit of that in their kinetic cover of Human League's "Don't You Want Me" for Relativity Media's heartfelt '80s comedy, Take Me Home Tonight. The song was the lead-off single for the film's soundtrack, and its '80s-tastic music video features the band rocking out with stars such as Topher Grace, Anna Faris, Dan Fogler, and Teresa Palmer. Most importantly, this re-imagining continues a band tradition. Galitzine goes on, "It's possible to reach each and every individual in an eighty thousand seat stadium. You can make an enormous towering sound and still say
something deeply meaningful and musical."
That's something that their newest singles, "Collide" and "Break My Heart Around You", produced by Don Gilmore, also achieve. Weaving together elegant synths, anthemic guitars, and hyper-catchy hooks, both tunes see Atomic Tom perfecting their patented style. "There's a lot of magic on there," adds Espiritu.
Atomic Tom have only begun making "magic" though. White concludes, "We've got something very special together, and it's been amazing to share that with the world. I can't wait to see where this train takes us next."
Luke White - Vocals
Eric Espiritu - Lead Guitar
Tobias Smith - Drums
Philip Galitzine - Bass
"Break My Heart Around You" Single (Sep 2011)
In Parallel EP (Sept 13 2011)
"Take Me Out" Single (Oct 2010)
The Moment LP (July 27 / Nov 17 2010)
Upside Down and Backwards EP (October 2008)
"You Always Get What You Want" (May 15 2007)
"Play That Dirty Girl" (May 15 2007)
Atomic Tom makes surprise appearance at CNN Digital's 'What's Next' presentation
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Atomic Tom made a surprise appearance at the CNN Grill tonight immediately following a presentation ...Atomic Tom made a surprise appearance at the CNN Grill tonight immediately following a presentation by KC Estenson, CNN.com's, general manager and senior vice president. Estenson spoke to the crowded room about 'What's Next' for CNN Digital.
The band played their single, "Take Me Out" on their iPhones. 'Take Me Out' is the same song that gave them international fame after they performed it on the New York City subway B train.
Band plays on subway with only iPhones for instruments
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Don't want to lug all your gear onto the train before a show? Why not leave the drum kit, the guitar...Don't want to lug all your gear onto the train before a show? Why not leave the drum kit, the guitars, the keyboards, even the microphones in your Mom's garage and use the instrument in your pocket. Check out the band "Atomic Tom" jamming on the Subway playing their iPhones! As a frequent mass transit rider, I have to ask myself though, would this be really awesome or really annoying if I was on that train?
If you liked our "Viral Video of the Day" jump over to "Atomic Tom's" youtube page and let them know you saw them on "Morning Express with Robin Meade" on HLN!
Live: Four iPhones on a B train
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Who needs instruments? When Atomic Tom's were stolen, the rock band broke out their Apple (AAPL) iPh...Who needs instruments? When Atomic Tom's were stolen, the rock band broke out their Apple (AAPL) iPhones. Here are they are performing "Take Me Out" on a New York City subway.
A more polished version, with guitars and drums, is available here. You buy the album on iTunes.
Band Plays Subway Concert Only Using iPhones
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?Brooklyn band Atomic Tom thought incorrectly when their latest video would be just another blog pos...?Brooklyn band Atomic Tom thought incorrectly when their latest video would be just another blog post, according to Billboard.
Atomic Tom performed their song "Take Me Out" on their iPhones three times while riding a New York City subway. The concert was intended to be a publicity stunt, and considering most standard subway performers don't make it onto CNN, these guys have really got a viral video on their hands.
By using the Shred, Drum Meister, Pocket Guitar, and Microphone iPhone applications in place of real instruments, the band drew a crowd. The footage of the performance was filmed on iPhones as well.
And you thought The Train Tracks light rail gigs were cool! The concept of performing a whole song as a band with only iPhones as instruments is a bit of a phenomenon. Could this lead to Brooklyn hipsters forming iPhone bands that play club shows and become a traveling iPhone band/circus of sorts? Well, if it's hip, probably.
Atomic Tom: iPhone Subway Concert Video 'Was Intentional'
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Atomic Tom has made music for roughly three years, but the Brooklyn four-piece only started making h...Atomic Tom has made music for roughly three years, but the Brooklyn four-piece only started making headlines over the past three days. In a video posted to YouTube last Friday (Oct. 15), the group performed its single "Take Me Out" on a New York subway using just iPhones. Since then, the clip has earned nearly 1.3 million YouTube hits and helped the song jump to No. 86 on the iTunes singles chart.
"Since this video launched, it immediately became the most intense thing this band has ever experienced press-wise," says lead singer Luke White. "The response has been incredible, and beyond our wildest expectations."
White says that guitarist Eric Espiritu's brother Ben originally came up with the idea for the performance over a month ago. Treating the project as another entry in the band's series of video blogs, Atomic Tom used four different iPhone applications (Shred, Drum Meister, Pocket Guitar and Microphone) to recreate their respective instruments.
After rehearsing for nearly a month, the group filmed the performance on three different iPhones on Oct. 8 as the B train crossed the Manhattan Bridge. "We were on the last take, and people started getting out of their seats and crowding around," says White.
Although White swears that the project was "completely top-secret," with no label or publicity involvement whatsoever, he has no problem admitting that the performance was a calculated publicity stunt. "We're a band that is trying to reach out to new fans," he says. "Of course it was intentional. Of course we rehearsed it. We're creating our own story and get ourselves out there."
The singer says that Atomic Tom's label, Universal Republic, was approached by Apple soon after the "Take Me Out" clip began earning thousands of YouTube views over the weekend, and a partnership is being discussed. The group's debut album, "The Moment," was featured on the iTunes Store home page and hit No. 11 on the iTunes albums chart.
"That's been so meaningful to us, to see that people actually appreciate the performance enough to go buy the record," says White. "The Moment" was released digitally in July, but White says that Universal Republic will give the album a physical release in the next few months.
Before the release, Atomic Tom will capitalize on the video's success by heading out on the road this fall. Although the group will play "Take Me Out," and the rest of "The Moment," using real instruments, White would not be opposed to the group performing on their iPhones in concert. "I'm sure we'll be requested to do so, and we'd be happy to oblige," says White.
Atomic Tom YouTube video propels band to success on the B train and iTunes
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So, what's a hip Brooklyn band to do? How's it supposed to set itself off from all the other hip ...So, what's a hip Brooklyn band to do?
How's it supposed to set itself off from all the other hip Brooklyn bands, which are as commonplace these days as bedbugs?
Talent and a cool name and a catchy single aren't enough.
The guys in Atomic Tom discovered that when they released "Take Me Out."
A video of them singing the song at Northeastern University drew all of 83 views.
Even after they got on Fox TV, the YouTube clip got only a couple of thousand hits, less than your basic pet trick.
Then the younger brother of 29-year-old lead guitarist Eric Espiritu thought up a stunt that involved trading instruments for iPhones and hopping the subway.
The resulting video shot aboard the B train on the Manhattan Bridge got a million views on YouTube in three days.
The single hit No. 83 on the iTunes chart, ahead of Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance." And the band's first album hitiTunes' top 10.
"It's pretty crazy," said Benjamin Espiritu, the 24-year-old with the big idea. "I mean, honestly ..."
On Oct. 8, Benjamin and the band rendezvoused at the W. Fourth St. subway station with friends who had not yet been told whatwas to come.
The band had kept it hush-hush for fear somebody else would do it first. The only hint had been a question when they were recruited to join in.
"We just said, 'Do you have an iPhone?'" Benjamin said.
On a Brooklyn-bound B train, Benjamin positioned the friends to shoot video with their iPhones while he did the same with his own. He was making his very first serious video.
"I don't have film experience," he said later. "This is kind of like my first big thing I was doing."
As the train clanked onto the Manhattan Bridge, theband began performing"Take Me Out" with iPhones connected to lunchbox-sized amplifiers.
Eric Espiritu used a guitar app, lead singer Luke White used a microphone app, bassist Philip Galitzine used a bass app and drummer Tobias Smith had a drum app.
They made a second take and then a third, the last ending as one of the friends' iPhones ran out of juice.
"I probably should have told them ahead of time it might be a good idea to charge them," Benjamin later said.
The third take was the keeper, with footage from the three phones employed as cameras. The audio was a continuous live recording of surprising quality and richness.
"It sounded much better than I thought it would," Benjamin said.
He figured he would make it even more appealing by adding a fictitious prcis that turned the snippet of vrit into a fairy tale.
Armed With Only iPhones, a Rock Band Goes Viral
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Armed with only iPhones, an inventive rock band has gone viral by way of the subway. The Brooklyn...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 Apple Inc. 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 Google Inc.'s 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-yeaer-old Espiritu said.
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."
Viral Video: Atomic Tom's Guerilla-Style iPhone Performance Rocks the B Train
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This latest instant video sensation comes from a little-known Brooklyn band called Atomic Tom, whose...This latest instant video sensation comes from a little-known Brooklyn band called Atomic Tom, whose take on subway busking involves an elaborate iPhone performance of their debut single, "Take Me Out." The clip garnered 20,000 hits and the attention of the tech world within hours of its release on Friday. The self-described "uber geeks" fully acknowledge that it was a meticulously organized publicity stunt, although their label, Universal/Republic had no idea of its existence until the morning when it went viral. And that's just the way the band wanted it.
"We decided to do this and not tell anyone--not our lawyer, our manger, the label," explains singer Luke White. "We wanted to be able to say we came up with this idea independent of anybody else and it's working."
The Williamsburg-based foursome, whose debut album "The Moment" was released on July 27, used four iPhone apps to recreate the individual instrument tracks -- Shred by Frontier Design, Drum Meister by Seungyi Lee. Pocket Guitar by Bonnet, Inc. and Microphone by Von Bruno. The performance, which the band ran through three times on Friday, October 8, was shot using three iPhones and edited together without any audio enhancements.
THR tracked down the band, which is currently in L.A. writing, to talk more about how they pulled off the B Train feat, and what inspired them to do it.
The Hollywood Reporter: Tell us how the idea came about.
Luke White: We were sitting around our table about a month ago talking about our record. We know that the world pays attention to a lot of these things that get out there via YouTube, Twitter and Facebook and we consider ourselves pretty adept technologically so we came up with this idea of performing the song on iPhones. Then we started thinking OK, where do we want to do this, and thought we'd try it on the subway and see what would happen. We've been rehearsing the song like crazy for a month.
THR: How long did it take to get it right and which train were you on?
White: It was the B train between Grand Street and Atlantic Ave. We did a test run the day before we shot it, and did it three times last Friday and the third time was amazing. That took about two hours. The whole thing is performed live and filmed on iPhones. We're all plugged into these little Berringer battery-powered amps under our seats. They were about a $100 a pop and it's funny, we thought we'd buy these, do this right now and then return them, but then after doing it and the response we received, we were, like, maybe we won't return these.
THR: So what was the response like? Did anyone throw you some loose change?
White: No change, but the people on the subway all got out of their seats and were crowding around us freaking out. The response was awesome. It was a lot of fun. In New York, people can be very stoic. It shot them out of that world and that was very cool to see. We were even contemplating going into different subways in different cites unannounced, even internationally like Paris or London. See if we can get ourselves in trouble.
THR: How much post-editing was involved?
White: Just editing the three iPhones together, it was all live audio. The director, Ben Espiritu, who's our guitar player's brother and the primary conjurer of this idea, was the main shot and he did a great job thinking of all the little details and essentially producing the whole thing. We edited that film on Monday and put it online last night and the day has just gone crazy. Apparently, it worked.
THR: Are these apps you use with any regularity?
White: No, we went after these apps when we started the video idea. We searched long and hard for the apps with the best sound and we were pretty impressed with these.
THR: Some comments on YouTube are saying that this version of "Take Me Out" sounds better than the one on the record. How does that sit with you?
White: I would say wait until they see us live. I'm really happy with the recorded version. I think there's a performance aspect to the studio that you don't get.
THR: There's a back-story that your instruments were stolen...
White: Our instruments were not, in fact, stolen. We've been doing these video blogs where we play these characters that thought that was a story that sets up the video well. But our instruments are safe and sound.
THR: So you don't make any apologies for this being pure marketing.
White: Not at all. I think ultimately we're very proud of the performance aspect of it and that we worked our asses off for a month. We're hoping, of course, that it reaches lots of people and they hear the song, enjoy it and tell their friends. That was the intent behind the video.
THR: Is that the OK Go model?
White: Those guys are geniuses; they have their finger on the pulse. We've learned in the past three years being in the music industry that the song is the first thing--you've gotta have the song--and the whole marketing aspect is a completely different world than it was 20 or 30 years ago. You've gotta be willing to take that risk of going into the subway and possibly embarrassing yourself or getting yelled at by a cop or whatever.
THR: This is one hell of an ad for Apple that didn't cost them a dime, have the gotten in touch?
White: I will cop to the fact that the entire band are Apple freaks. We always have been. There's not a PC in the group. When we first self-released the album on iTunes, a guy there became our champion but there's been some banter back and forth now, we'll see what happens.
THR: And you didn't tell you label ahead of time?
White: They found out about the video this morning. But everyone felt really good about what's happened. It's all very surreal. It was more because we wanted to completely surprise everyone. When people are surprised they tend to react more strongly, and as a result, tell more people than if it was preempted by something.
THR: You've poked fun of the music business in other video clips, how is that not biting the hand that feeds you?
White: We love making fun of ourselves and I think we feel very lucky and blessed to be where we are at Universal/Republic--[label head] Monte Lipman threatened to cut off my balls if we signed with anyone else! We are such a new band and haven't experience a lot of the dreaded horror stories of the music business; we're very aware of that and I think it makes us smarter in that respect.
ATOMIC TOM: Handy-Konzert in der U-Bahn
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Um als New Yorker Band aus der Masse herauszustechen, muss man sich schon etwas Besonderes einfallen...Um als New Yorker Band aus der Masse herauszustechen, muss man sich schon etwas Besonderes einfallen lassen. Die vier Jungs von "Atomic Tom" hatten eine neue Idee zur Eigenwerbung und setzten ihren Plan erfolgreich in die Tat um: Die Band gab das erste "iPhone"-Konzert der Welt in einer New Yorker U-Bahn. Ohne Instrumente, nur mit ihren Smartphones und entsprechenden Instrumenten-"Apps" ausgestattet, spielten sie Anfang Oktober bei der Fahrt über die Manhattan-Bridge ihren Song "Take Me Out".
Das dazugehörige Video stellten die geschäftstüchtigen New Yorker sofort via YouTube ins Netz. Hier sieht man die digitalen Instrumente deutlich auf den "iPhones" der Musiker, vom Schlagzeug bis zur Gitarre ist alles dabei. "Atomic Tom" ließen sich zudem eine nette Geschichte einfallen und behaupteten einfach, ihnen seien die Instrumente geklaut worden. "Zum Glück wissen sie, wie man improvisiert", ist im Video zu lesen. Gegenüber dem Musikportal "Billboard.com" gab Sänger Luke White jedoch zu, dass die Band über einen Monat für den U-Bahn-Auftritt geprobt hat.
"Die Resonanz ist unglaublich und übertrifft unsere wildesten Erwartungen", sagte White. Er bestreitet jedoch, mit dem Smartphone-Hersteller "Apple" einen Werbevertrag zu haben, es sei ihre Idee gewesen. Allerdings habe "Apple" sie nun bereits für eine Kooperation angesprochen. Kein Wunder: Mittlerweile wurde das Video der bis dato eher unbekannten Band schon 1,6 Millionen Mal aufgerufen, ihr Album steigt bei den "iTunes"-Charts ständig nach oben.
Es ist der Beweis, dass man mit originellen Ideen auch heute noch via YouTube berühmt werden kann.
New York: un concert d'iPhones dans le métro fait fureur sur la
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Un groupe new-yorkais utilisant des iPhones comme instruments de musique a séduit des millions d'int...Un groupe new-yorkais utilisant des iPhones comme instruments de musique a séduit des millions d'internautes.
«Atomic Tom» a organisé un concert dans une rame de métro à New York. Le groupe a ensuite eu la bonne idée de mettre sa musique sur le Web, le 14 octobre dernier.
Dix jours plus tard, la vidéo avait été visionnée plus de 2,5 millions de fois sur YouTube. Les musiciens ont utilisé leurs téléphones comme batterie, guitare et piano pour leur tube «Take Me Out».
Topher Grace of "Take Me Home Tonight" and Luke White of Atomic Tom Go '80s for "Rogue on Rogue"
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"I finally have a taste of what it's like to be a musician, and I don't like it," chuckles Topher Gr..."I finally have a taste of what it's like to be a musician, and I don't like it," chuckles Topher Grace while on a promotional tour for Relativity Media's Take Me Home Tonight in Boston.
Even though life on the road might not be Topher's calling, he's got a lot in common with Atomic Tom singer Luke White. The two met when Atomic Tom created a fast, fun, and fiery cover of Human League's "Don't You Want Me" for Topher's hilarious and heartfelt new '80s comedy, Take Me Home Tonight. At the song's music video shoot [watch the video here], the two instantly connected. Both artists share a dedication to their respective crafts that's both infectious and inspiring. Luke's careful attention to the detail of the song's recording mirrored Topher's involvement in every aspect of Take Me Home Tonight from starring in the film to his role as a producer. Both of these guys care about every little thing, and that's why Atomic Tom's debut album The Moment and Take Me Home Tonight are both modern classics.
For this exclusive ARTISTdirect.com "Rogue On Rogue" interview, Topher Grace of Relativity Media's Take Me Home Tonight and Luke White of Atomic Tom spoke to ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino about Take Me Home Tonight, optimism in '80s pop culture, party nights, their similarities, and so much more.
Don't miss Relativity Media's Take Me Home Tonight when it hits theaters March 4, 2011! Also, pick up Atomic Tom's debut album The Moment now! Pick up Take Me Home Tonight's soundtrack March 29, 2011!
What was your initial reaction to meeting each other?
Topher Grace: I haven't met a lot of bands. I've got to say Atomic Tom are the nicest band though! Everyone was so cool when we did the music video for "Don't You Want Me." I guess I was nervous; I didn't know if you guys were going to come in and throw shit and piss all over stuff [Laughs]. You were nicer than actors though!
Luke White: We considered it [Laughs].
Topher Grace: Certainly, I could tell that something was brewing underneath everything. Everyone was awesome though.
When did you both discover your respective art forms? What spoke to you when you were young?
Luke White: Let's see! My dad forced me to play piano at four, which I'm so very thankful he did. At about 12-years-old, I started writing music. I was like, "Oh, this is cool. I love music and I'm writing these hilarious songs which I hope will never see the light of day." [Laughs] I was in various garage bands in my teen years through high school. Then I went to college. I was studying management and marketing and never going to class. I was actually sneaking off to the jazz department instead. That was the point where I realized I'm wasting my money going to school when I want to play music and I know I want to play music. I ended up moving to Boston, and I started my first band where I was singing and writing all of the material. That was the trial by fire for me. Boston's such a great music town. It's intimate, and you get to know every working part of the industry there. When you get to a certain point, you realize you want more, and that's when you have to leave Boston.
Topher Grace: That's interesting…
Luke White: I'd always wanted to move to New York City. So I moved to New York and I started Atomic Tom there. That's basically where the real shit happened.
Topher Grace: I have the opposite story. I was not passionate about acting or even really that into it. I was in a play during high school. I actually wasn't in many plays. I had just sprained my ankle playing tennis so I couldn't play that year and I joined the spring musical. The parents of the girl who did the sets saw me. They were big time producers and they said, "Can we call you because we know you're going to USC in L.A.?" I was a real jerk. I said, "Sure, babe, have your people call my people. We'll do lunch." [Laughs] I thought they meant for me to be a PA or something. I had no idea what they were talking about. They called me about a year later, and my first audition ever was for That '70s Show (TV Series). I'm lucky that I like acting because I signed a six-year contract to do it [Laughs]. I actually saw a lot of similarities between myself and Luke. They don't arise from how we started, because I don't think our beginnings could be anymore different. When we were doing the music video, Luke said, "Wow, you really got focused there!" Then Luke really got focused. I saw you in the studio. You were a part of every single thing! I was the same way in that I produced the film and the music video. I really wanted to be a part of every little thing about it. I don't know how you feel, but the genesis of that for me is once I started acting on That '70s Show, I loved it. I'm not the kind of person who needs to know how stuff works. I don't look at a lawnmower and go, "How does that work?" I don't care. If it mows the lawn, I'm good [Laughs]. About filmmaking, I wanted to learn everything though. That's what the Take Me Home Tonight experience was about to me even down to the marketing, doing this music video and choosing Atomic Tom as the band. Luke did absolutely everything with the song.
Luke White: I think that's pretty accurate in terms of what you were doing, Topher. You definitely took this, ran with it, and made it happen. That's how we were involved. I respected what I saw when I came on the set because you were intense and focused. As a band, we had absolutely no clue what it would be like coming into this project. They flew us out after we did the demo of "Don't You Want Me," and we had no idea what anything would be like. We were very pleasantly surprised, and it was great to see. Everything was set up as it should've been. I respected watching Topher orchestrate the whole things with the strings on his fingers [Laughs].
Do you feel like you both strike some of the same emotional chords with Take Me Home Tonight and The Moment? There's a lot of heart inherent in both.
Topher Grace: Luke, I don't know if you know this, but a friend played me your "Take Me Out" video that went viral. Obviously, it was really cool idea. I also thought the song was great. Then Kathy Nelson, who's the real hero of our soundtrack, brought Atomic Tom up. For me, there's something about "Take Me Out" and "Maybe I'm Wrong." There's an eternal quality in some music that makes you say, "This song's going to be as good as it is now in 20 years." There's some chord that it strikes. We wanted to do that the way that John Hughes movies did that. That was our mission with the film. You're right…people have been saying there's a surprising amount of heart in the movie. We wanted to do all of the party and raunchy stuff. Movies like Dazed and Confused and American Graffiti had a lot of heart and that made them different from other time-specific movies or party-all-in-one-night movies. They strike a chord. I knew that Luke wasn't going to shy away from that, and it was going to be something new. I like the original "Don't You Want" me a lot, but I wanted more of that timeless feel. If Luke had done a cover of this song five years ago or five years from now, I think it still would've been as big of a hit.
Luke White: We got to screen the movie right after recording the song, and we didn't know what to expect. We found ourselves laughing throughout the whole thing. At the end of the movie, we all agreed it was genuinely funny. It's not funny in any sort of spoof sense, but it felt like a real measurement of the '80s in a great way. I was born in 1980. From 1985 I was cognizant of everything. For the rest of my life, I've been revisiting the '80s. For whatever reason, it always struck a big chord in me, especially the culture and music of that decade. All of my favorite bands from that era are people that I continue to listen to. In a huge way musically, Atomic Tom is influenced by the synth elements of the '80s and the guitar elements. Eric's [Espiritu, guitarist] favorite artist is Eddie Van Halen. Those elements are constantly in rotation in our heads. They're fun, interesting, and influential. It's fun to have that influence. To be honest, the '90s weren't as much of an influence. I wasn't huge into the grunge era at all. It wasn't really until the pop elements returned at the end of the '90s that I started to get excited about music again.
There's a strange optimism to '80s pop culture. There some happy songs and movies that came out of that era.
Topher Grace: That was something we really wanted to do. Luke hit on it. We wanted to be the first movie about the '80s to not spoof the '80s. It's funny because our video is a total spoof. It was our moment where we said, "This is where we have the cast." Clearly, Anna Faris is really great spoof. Arguably, she's the best performer besides Leslie Nielsen ever to be in that genre. Dan Fogler is really hilarious at it. We were psyched to use that as our opportunity to spoof it. For the movie itself and the song, we wanted to have no elements of spoof. We just took a time machine back to the '80s and made a movie there. You're right there was a lot of celebration in that time that has never been addressed in films. It's always making fun of it or getting really down on the '80s. We wanted to get more real about the characters.
Luke White: To a certain degree, I feel like a lot of the songs from the '80s were reactive to the optimism that people wanted to have.
Topher Grace: Plus, they were all making a lot of cash and doing a lot of cocaine. So that made it very easy to be optimistic [Laughs].
Have either of you had a crazy night like the one in the film?
Topher Grace: I'm going to let the rock star answer this…
Luke White: To be honest, we're not the biggest partiers as a band, which I hope will reflect on us putting albums out for the next twenty years if we can [Laughs].
Topher Grace: Because if not you're going to wish you partied harder, right?
Luke White: Exactly! [Laughs] When I moved to Boston, that was a huge, freeing moment for me to step out on my own and figure out what I was about. There were definitely few nights that carried on to the morning. There was never this huge debaucherous element or anything like that. It was a fun, exciting, and figuring-out-myself kind of night alongside other people. There's a bonding to those kinds of nights and a memory that everybody has. It's worth writing songs about. There's one song called "We Were Never Meant To Be," and it's about finals week and staying up all night, not studying at all, carrying your friends up the stairs, and doing chair-racing down the halls. It's just good fun times.
Watching Take Me Home Tonight, did you guys see pieces of yourselves in Topher's character Matt?
Topher Grace: It wasn't based on me when we made it. Then you go, "Alright, I have a 'story by' credit on the movie. I did work at Suncoast Video. It's probably going to surprise you; I wasn't the biggest winner with girls in high school." It makes you think if it's totally autobiographical. I had a very different mid-20s than Matt did. I knew that I was doing because I was on the show. I'm lucky. Before I got that call to audition, I had no idea what I was doing. I was totally undecided in my major. I think it's like an alternate universe version of me. I'm not as bright as Matt. We wanted to make him hyper intelligent, and he's over-thinking everything. He could easily work anywhere, and he's protesting by having the Suncoast Video job whereas I probably would've been working there for real [Laughs].
Luke White: Matt is where I was in my teenage years. I had coke bottle glasses from about eight to sixteen. I was a total geek. I spent more time with computers. Matt was definitely not a geek. I felt the same kind of inability to commit and go after what I wanted. Matt goes through that transformation where he does know what he wants and he commits and it's an awesome night.
Would you two want to collaborate again?
Topher Grace: Yeah! I'm not going to speak for Luke, but I would love to! It was the easiest part of the entire movie. The best part was when they were finalizing the song, I was allowed to go in and ask Luke a couple questions. I probably have to work with Luke again because I've been spoiled as far as rock stars go [Laughs]. I'm pretty sure I've heard a lot of them are difficult and maybe I'm ruining some kind of rock 'n' roll image…
Luke White: Not at all!
Topher Grace: But it was so easy and great! I'm so happy with it. The video was incredible. You guys are the first band I know!
Luke White: One of our motifs as a band is "It doesn't pay to be an asshole." I know you know this, Topher. It's so hard to find people who you feel like you can genuinely work with more than once in this industry. There are a lot of egos out there. When egos and talent don't match, it's like, "Okay, why do we want to do this?" We have absolutely no reason to be assholes especially when we're in a van [Laughs]. Hopefully, that won't change when we're making money!
Topher Grace: You guys could be a little bit meaner [Laughs].
Luke White: Topher was super easy to work with because he was intense and focused. He knew what he wanted and that kind of resolve gets shit done. That was fun to watch and be a part of.
Topher Grace: I love it dude!
Atomic Tom looks to blow up alternative rock charts
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Since forming in Brooklyn in 2006, Atomic Tom steadily has been ascending to the top of the alternat...Since forming in Brooklyn in 2006, Atomic Tom steadily has been ascending to the top of the alternative rock world. Bolstered by radio-ready hit single “Take Me Out” and a clever viral video, the foursome’s first full-length album The Moment garnered international attention and comparisons to Franz Ferdinand and The Killers. tableau caught up with lead singer and guitarist Luke White as the band tours the nation and adjusts to life as rock stars.
tableau: First off, congratulations on all of your recent success. How have you and the other band members [guitarist Eric Espiritu, bassist Philip Galitzine and drummer Tobias Smith] handled your rise to fame?
White: It’s been good; everybody’s handling it really well. It’s great that we’re in the back of a lot of people’s minds, but we still want to get ourselves out there on the road and get ourselves on the forefront of people’s mind.
tableau: How did you get the idea for playing “Take Me Out” on iPhones in a New York City subway car and posting the now-famous video on YouTube?
White: Well, we released the single in April 2010. We realized we had to create our own story; the environment in the music industry today is one where if you’re not the top group you have to really put yourself out there to get the music heard, so we came up with the idea of playing our single on our iPhones. We wanted to do a public performance, and we found a B-train in New York City that goes over the Manhattan Bridge with a six-minute interval in between stops. The reaction was a lot of fun — we were definitely not expecting the reaction we got. We were expecting 10,000 views or so, but now it has over five million views on YouTube.
tableau: What is your favorite part about making a living as a musician?
White: It’s definitely playing shows. Being on stage, there is a certain thrill to reaching out to new fans with performance and that interactive element. They’re reacting because you’re performing. There’s an energy that you can’t get anywhere else, and it’s very spiritual and unique. I love that aspect of what we do.
tableau: How did you get involved with the soundtrack for Take Me Home Tonight, the upcoming romantic comedy starring Topher Grace and Anna Faris?
White: My manager called me and said, “Hey Luke, could you create a demo for how Atomic Tom would do [Human League’s 80’s hit] ‘Don’t You Want Me?’ by 3 a.m. tonight?” I crammed until about four in the morning, and then sent it off to production. It was fun doing a cover of a song that we all enjoyed from that era.
tableau: What are your upcoming plans?
White: We’re always working on new music and going into the studio to cut a couple songs. Really the goal for 2011 is to tour our asses off and keep playing the United States and reach out to as many people as possible. Basically, we want to conquer the music world. We want to be playing in arenas, and I think we have the right sound to do that.
Atomic Tom will be playing [at] Jammin’ Java in Vienna, Va. March 4. The Take Me Home Tonight soundtrack drops March 4 as well.
I'm Coming After You
Let Let Go Tonight
Break My Heart Around You
Don't You Want Me (Human League)
You Always Get What You Want
Red Light Warning Sign
Play That Dirty Girl
We Were Never Meant to Be
Take Me Out
Maybe I'm Wrong
This Is How We Like To End
There are no upcoming dates at this time.