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Bangin' on a trash can

Drummin' on a street light
Doug, "One Little Voice"

You've got music in your soul. You can feel the rhythm, see the crowd, and hear the notes play out even in the most deafening of distractions. But you've got a problem: you don't have any instruments. Maybe you lost yours, maybe there's no way to get them, or maybe, as is sadly often the case, you just can't afford it... either way, it doesn't matter. You can feel the music and you're not going to let something so simple as a lack of instruments stop you.

Anything is possible if you have the ingenuity to do it. Pick up a trashcan, bang on the lid, and makes some drums. Pull together some shoestrings and make a guitar, and break off a lead pipe and make it into a trombone. Pretty soon, you've got yourself a Trash Can Band, and before long the music just flows out.

Compare Everything Is an Instrument and Banging Pots and Pans.

Examples of Trash Can Band include:

Anime & Manga

  • The Triplets of Belleville have quite a few moments like this. And when the composer was invited to perform the main song at the Oscars, his backup band was playing on vacuum cleaners and bicycle spokes...


  • In It's Always Fair Weather, three buddies attach trash can lids to their left shoes and do a wonderful sort of pre-Stomp tap dance number.


  • This troper can't remember the title or author, but knows she once read a picture book about a family where the four kids go down to the junkyard and find a bunch of trash that they use to make instruments. Their father is a painter and wants them to be quiet so he can work, and the parents are also none too thrilled about them building drum sets out of the kitchenware.
  • In the Gordon Korman book Bugs Potter LIVE at Nickaninny, the title character steals pots and pans from his family's campsite to make an impromptu drumset.

Live Action TV

  • A few episodes of Home Improvement had a group of workers from a construction company come onto the Show Within a Show and talk about the weird things they do on the job (like cooking and hygiene). In their last few appearances, they made a band with instruments made mostly from power tools. They performed in their second-to-last appearance, and helped close the show in the finale.
  • A Jug Band, as seen on The Muppet Show from time to time, as well as in Emmett Otter's Jug Band Christmas, is a specific type of Trash Can Band, consisting of a jug, a washboard and a washtub bass.


  • Blue Man Group makes music out of unusual objects, like PVC pipes.
  • Spike Jones' version of The William Tell Overture (also known as Feetlebaum) includes a section played entirely on kitchen implements.
  • Music for One Apartment and Six Drummers.
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Down on the Corner" is about a partial trash can band called Willy and the Poor Boys.
  • The Junkestra is another truth in television example, using various "found objects".
  • The Spinto Band have done a version of their song "Later On" entirely using kitchen implements and food.
  • Non-musical example: for "Breaking the Girl", the Red Hot Chili Peppers members went into a nearby dump and rounded up a bunch of trash cans and other garbage that drummer Chad Smith used as percussion in the song's breakdown.
  • Though they otherwise use conventional rock instruments, the band Skeleton Key have a member who plays "junk percussion" on every song.
  • The music video for the song "Troll Hammaren" by the band Finntroll shows the trolls playing weird, makeshift, "trollish" instruments which nonetheless deliver the sound of normal percussion and guitars.
  • There is a band called the Trashcan Sinatras, although they do not play trashcans.
  • The Duke Louis Sound has a cardboard box drum kit, and saucepan cymbals.
  • Jazz drummer Frank "Josh" Billings, also known as "the Suitcase Drummer", was known for playing a suitcase with brown paper spread across the surface using kitchen utensils.

Theme Parks

  • Disneyland's Trash Can Trio appear to be part of the regular janitorial staff until they suddenly launch into a performance.


  • Stomp IS this trope, turned up to eleven. The musical starts off with the cast making music with brooms, and it gets better from there.
  • "I Got Rhythm" in the Jukebox Musical Crazy for You.

Western Animation

  • ~Cats Don't Dance~ has Danny pull together one of those to help the disillusioned animal actors get their spirit back. It eventually grows into a huge block party, with a montage of all the characters dancing or playing makeshift instruments.
  • Doug, as per the above quote.
  • Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids.
  • Trashin' The Camp.
  • The "Riff-Raff and the Catillac Cats" shorts on the syndicated Heathcliff cartoon arguably qualify.
  • "I Ain't Got Rhythm" from Phineas and Ferb: The drummer of the band disavows his ability to drum even as he's unconsciously drumming on anything in sight.
  • The Little Rascals did this, at least in Hanna-Barbera's animated series.
  • Top Cat and his gang also have done this.

Real Life

  • Truth in Television: Steel drum bands play drums made from steel 55-gallon barrels.
    • Calypso drums started out the same way.
    • Most kids who went to primary school in Australia had at least one day where they learned about "bush bands" and their instruments, which included the "tea-chest bass" and a kind of giant wooden cross with bottle caps nailed to it.
    • That would be the "lagerphone". The "bush band" phenomenon is also found in England, under the name of "skiffle", and in America as "jug bands".
    • In the US (and possibly other countries) there's a rather large number of street-corner drummers who ply their trade using buckets and other random junk. They're usually very good.
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