A DIY Musical Instrument For The Zombie Apocalypse

Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

If you're anything like Rocks Off you're worried about two things: a) That jars of olives are somehow sentient and plotting our demise; and b) that when the dead rise and life becomes a bitter struggle between the living and the zombies there will simply be no time left for music.

Thanks to one man, Christopher Michael David Herron, we no longer have to worry about such a thing. Herron was inspired by a contest to produce a musical instrument out of garbage or trash - the contest's administrator, a morbidly obese man named Albert, could not be reached for comment.

Herron decided that he would utilize what will surely be the most common objects post-World War Z, namely the spent shell casings dropped by desperate defenders before the ghoul hordes pull them down. The result is a fully functional pan flute, and Herron has even been able to pull off Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" using the instrument.

Clearly, we're dealing with a prophet and a genius, so Rocks Off fired off some emails to Herron's hollow volcano lair in Colorado to question him further about the music of the future wasteland.

Rocks Off: What gave you the idea of making the flute?

Christopher Michael David Herron: I've always gotten a kick out of making something for as cheap as humanly possible just to prove I could. So when a member of a prop maker forum proposed a contest to make an instrument from junk I jumped all over it. We had a $20 limit plus whatever we could scrounge up for free. My first two ideas were a PVC didgeridoo and a tin-can fiddle.

The idea for the pan flute actually came to me a few days later when I was cleaning out some bullet casings I had picked up at a shooting range. As I blew out the dirt I noticed they made a whistling noise so I lined up a few different sizes and one thing led to another! My first rendition looked a little funny but after I took off the shotgun shells it started to look pretty good.

RO: How important will music be in the postapocalyptic world?

CMDH: Imagine a world with no radio, Internet, cable, not even - thank God - Twitter. With the constant stress of finding non-radiated water or running from giant insects we would have to have a form of recreation. I think music would be our biggest past time next to fending off mutated zombies.

RO: Are there any important safety tips for people following your instruction? Could one get lead poisoning from using it?

CMDH: The casings themselves don't contain lead, it's the slug you have to watch out for. Clean it out really well and you should be fine. If you are obtaining your bullet casings at a shooting range just be aware of your surroundings and stay safe.

Bullets can ricochet, and not everyone with a gun pays attention. As for the build, just don't glue your fingers together like I did.

RO: Will you be selling any yourself through something like Etsy, or do you just want to show people how to make one?

CMDH: I would but I change projects on almost a daily basis. One day it's a high-caliber pan flute the next it's a sonic screwdriver. Ingenuity without purpose can be a curse. If I ever had anyone request a reproduction of one of my projects I would most definitely consider it, though.

RO: Will you make any other similar instruments?

CMDH: I made a Post Apocalyptic Didgeridoo that looks like a prop from Mad Max and some day I'll get around to making a Double Flute. What I would love to make is an electric cigar box bass guitar.

RO: Do you have a background in music?

CMDH: I played classical bass for seven years and dabbled with the electric and acoustic bass guitars. My parents were always very supportive of both my sister and myself in our musical endeavors. Sadly, I've let it slip for some time now, but eventually I plan to brush the dust off the old amp.

Follow Rocks Off on Facebook and on Twitter at @HPRocksOff.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.