Is this fake?
It’s funny…we expected a few “how’d you do this?” questions; we never for a second thought the overwhelming question would be “is this fake?” While we definitely take this as a compliment, we can assure you it’s very real.
Perhaps it’s the quality of the sound that raises flags. If the recording seems *too* good, it’s because we took great pride in capturing the audio with high-end equipment.
Perhaps people think it would be too hard to perform. While it’s no easy feat, we’re lucky that a majority of the people we call friends happen to be musicians too.
But I see people playing multiple beer bottles…is that right?
Yes, everyone was in charge of (at least) two different notes. While this definitely made things more difficult for the musicians, it was the only way to have a full-sounding arrangement with a reasonably small group.
How did people know when to play?
Each person was handed personalized sheet music to learn their part. Once we practiced enough, we were able to put the sheet music away. For the performance, there were large color-coded pages of sheet music on the wall behind the camera for reference…and when we say large, we mean 5′ x 3′ pages. See our photos section for a visual.
How long did you practice?
Believe it or not, everyone was handed their part for the first time when they came over for the event. Granted, there was a considerable amount of preparation before the band arrived; the arrangement, music parts, and beer bottles were all prepared ahead of time. Luckily, we have some ridiculously talented musicians (see our band page), and are able to sort everything out in very little time!
How did everyone have the correct pitch?
The bottles were tuned earlier in the day…and it’s a surprisingly painstaking process!
Who came up with the arrangement?
One of the band’s co-founders, Matt Bowen. It’s a challenging task to write an arrangement where everyone can play exactly two notes and have a realistically doable part, all while having a full-sounding piece of music. Luckily Matt is a composer and has a love of mathematics, so the Sudoku-like puzzle is quite fun for him.
How did this idea come about?
Most good ideas are either thought of on a road-trip or on the toilet…luckily, for sanitary reasons, this one was conceived on the road. Matt and Summer were driving up the California coast in 2009 when their baby fell asleep for a couple of hours, leaving them to have a thoughtful conversation. Years before, they started the tradition of recording a Christmas carol each year, just for fun. They started thinking about something “different” to do, when Summer simply said “Wouldn’t it be cool to play a Christmas carol on beer bottles?!” About an hour of brainstorming later, the idea and all the logistics were solidified. We knew we couldn’t pull it off ourselves, and we knew it had to be videotaped without an edit…otherwise, nobody would believe it was real (some people still don’t for whatever reason!). And so, the Bowen Beer Bottle Band was born!
Have more questions? Let us know!