iPod Saves Chicago Band Midstates

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Apple’s video iPod joins Chicago band, Midstates; new device becomes band’s stand-in drummer, keyboard player and guitarist.

Chicago rock band Midstates recently welcomed Apple’s new iPod as the group’s sixth member while on tour this last November. The hot new device played drums, keyboards and guitars and even made sure audiences could visually experience the unique skills of the group’s drummer. This is probably the first instance of an iPod being used to recreate not only an audio performance, but also a visual performance.

Midstates, touring in support of their upcoming release Boxing Twilight, recently found themselves in a bind -- how to tour with popular combo, Wheatus, for three weeks without three-fifths of their members? With the tour falling around the holidays and three members unable to carve out enough time from other obligations, Midstates’ Paul Heintz and Steve Munoz needed a solution and needed it fast. To further the dilemma, drummer Angel Ledezma’s highly-charged live performances are always a crowd pleaser and the group felt his absence would detract from the shows. Enter the new Apple iPod with video capability, which had just hit the shelves just before the band was scheduled to hit the road.

“I bought the new iPod right when it came out to keep me entertained on the road. Then I found out that Angel, Sasha and Dahlman couldn’t make it,” explains Heintz. “We spent a lot of time working up to this record and live show. Touring with Wheatus was a great opportunity. I hated to see it lost.”

Then one day, while considering various solutions, the light bulb popped on.

“Why not record Sasha and Dahlman’s parts and then videotape Angel playing his drums,” Heintz says. “We can mix it all down and project Angel behind us.”

Using a digital video camera and their studio, Spectra Kakarot, the band put together a video of Angel playing drums in time with the rest of the band. Using Videora, a free converter application, the band converted the video and music to iPod compatible backing tracks. They ran the iPod through the board and a video projector and played along with the tracks and Angel’s video all while controlling the order and volume of the tracks from the stage.

Will the iPod ultimately replace Midstates’ errant members? “Probably not,” says Heintz. “But, it’s much easier to stretch out in the van with the iPod on board.”

About Midstates:

Midstates is a five-piece avant-space rock band from Chicago. Their new album Boxing Twilight is due out February 21 on Mental Monkey/Reincarnate Music.

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