10 Cheap Recording Studio/Jam Space Hacks

Owning a studio, even a modest basement one, is as expensive as owning a boat. Just a dynamic mics, a computer, and an interface can set you back a couple grand. Here are some cheap hacks that won’t break the bank, so you can go back to saving up for that Neumann U-87.

  1. The Over the Door Shoe Organizer for Mics and Percussion.

This is perfect for storing cables, mic clips, maracas, kazoos, power supplies all the shitty little— things that keep getting underfoot. The clear plastic makes finding stuff a breeze. I just screwed mine to the dry wall with some anchors. Chinese takeout containers make great organizers for little stuff like screws or mic clips.

2. Flexible Cell Phone Holders for Drum Sets.

Want to film yourself giving that all import paradiddle tutorial or play along to the new Viagra Boys album on Spotify? Just wrap this around thingee around your rack tom instead of your shoulders. I can’t believe it doesn’t rattle when you hit the tom, either. A camera shakes a bit  but in a cool way and on beat. They cost about twenty bucks. I found mine at Goodwill.

3. Use A Looper for Setting Your Own Levels.

Ever wish you could play your guitar and dial in your preamp, all at the same time, with no one’s help? Now, you can loop yourself playing a sick riff, step away, and get a good gain structure all by your lonesome. Then you can hook up a mic and loop yourself saying, “Who needs friends?” over and over again.

4.Cheap Shotgun Boom Mics Make Great Universal Mic Clips.

Originally designed for mounting mini booms on cameras, these shock mounts are fantastic mounts for anything from small diaphragm condensers to Shure 57’s. They cost bout ten bucks each online. Try finding a standard shockmount for that price. The brand ZRAMO makes a good one with the mic clip end instead of camera tripod.

5. The Carol Kay Foam Trick.

Venerable studio bassist Carol Kay (Beach boys, Simon and Garfunkel, Mission Impossible theme song) would place a small piece of foam under the bass’s bridge and slide it up and down  to adjust the sustain. Genius. I’ve heard that the dirtier the foam is, the better the tone.

6&7. The String of Usefulness with Color-Coded Electrical Tape.

I learned this trick from a gaffer during my summer as a grip. The string keeps misplaceables such as scissors and tape together, so they don’t run to opposite sides of the room when you aren’t looking. Perfect for clamps, bottle openers, and color-coded electrical tape. 

Along with the standard black electrical tape uses, you can use colored tape to mark the ends of cords, making identification a snap. Not more plowing through the octopus’s garden to find the end of a wonky XLR cable on your snake! 

8. Laptop Stand as a Portable End Table.

I’ve used this stand for pretty much everything but laptops: drinks, picks, cell phones, basically all my pocket litter. It’s cheap insurance against some doofus spilling a drink all over your vintage Farfisa organ. They can also work as speaker stands in a pinch.

9. Interlocking Foam Mats.

Far superior to carpeting, these mats absorb a ton of muddy sound reflections and are a breeze to clean if the water heater goes kaput and floods your basement. (Worst day ever!) Like kitchen stress relief pads, these mats are also comfy to stand on for long periods of time. And I can’t count the times they’ve saved my headphones and mics from accidental drops.

10. Golf Gloves . . . For Drumming?

Apparently, all the billions of dollars worth of R&D that make golf gloves feel like second skin also makes them perfect drummer gloves. (Stupid fucking eczema messing up my hands!) Stewart Copeland from the Police uses Nike, Bun E. Carlos from Cheap Trick sports Wilson, and Carter Beauford from the Dave Mathew’s band has his own signature Footjoy gloves. I just can’t handle the white ones, because they make me feel like a mime.

Help! The Pandemic is Lifting and I Can’t Stop Going To Shows.

I semi-sincerely apologize to anyone who thought this image was a real upcoming event. To be fair, this fantasy concert kinda/sorta happened for me with just a couple months’ wait between bands. (Just like your standard metal show. So many bass drums and full stacks.)

Shannon and the Clams 

w/ Delicate Steve and Electric Candlelight @ The Union Transfer

October 23 2021

Playing my favorite song!

It was nice for me and the better half to just chill on the balcony with the other old heads including my buddies Chip, Eggs, and Kate.

Electric Candlelight started the processions with a mellow, trippy set. Delicate Steve kept that vibe going with instrumental guitar music.

Shannon and the Clams didn’t fail to deliver their go-go goodness. Damn, that girl doesn’t really need a microphone. What a powerful set of pipes. If she yelled at me, I’d run.

The guitar player, Cody Blanchard, wore an awesome caped costume while Shannon looked stunning in her knee-high boots and retro-sixties garb.

I was surprised how similar Shannon and Blanchard’s voices are. Sometimes, it sounded like he was doubling her vocals, not unlike classic Ray and Dave Davies. I hope the Clams argue less backstage. 

Snapped Ankles 

W/ Gloin and Lady HD @ Johnny Brendas

March 10th, 2022

Sorry, I was too busy getting my groove on to take any footage. The band was as good as they were at this show though, I swear.

I went with my buddies Jay and Pete. Jay just got a new job, so he treated us all to the best Italian place I’ve ever been to, Murph’s Bar. (Yes, you heard me correctly. An Irish Pub has the best Italian.) Then we killed time at Barricade, drinking beers and dropping tokens into Double Dragon and Burger Time.

Johnny Branda’s is probably my favorite Philly venue. I think it’s because I saw Pere Ubu a couple years ago and that show was so transcendental that part of my soul left me and got stuck in the woodwork.

Snoring at our table, my buddy Jay fell into a pasta coma during the Gloin set. But then, halfway through, the band kicked into overdrive, rousing Sleeping Beauty. I wish I remembered what song they played that turned the crowd around. Jay was so into them that he wound up buying a record. 

Irrefutable Photographic evidence proving Jay bought their album. That leather strap isn’t just for his bass, btw.

Up next was Lady HD. They were a good time and are on my list of bands to further explore.

Rhythm is Snapped Ankle’s business and they were clocked the fuck in. Although it’s hard to see their faces under the costumes, Snapped Ankles seemed to have as much fun as the audience. They sound like a battle between Devo and the Daleks from Dr. Who. Glow-in-the dark band members waded through the audience, playing percussion. It felt like more of a happening than a show, but I dug it.

The Chats

W/ Mean Jeans and THICK at The Foundry at The Fillmore

May 8, 2022

My man is pissed! And not the good kind.

When we bought tickets for the Chats right before lockdown. My wife had a dream that we wouldn’t get to see them for two years. She was right. I think she may be a witch.  

Two years later, we arrived at the Foundry at the Fillmore. The atmosphere reminded me of upstairs at the Trocadero. (RIP)

At the beginning of her set, I thought that the guitar player from THICK was the worst solist I’ve ever heard in my life, but by the end her wackadoo style grew on me like mold. (Mould if you are Australian.)

Mean Jeans have definitely worshiped at the altar of the Ramones with just as much energy, speed, and catchy hooks. Their singer had a lot of personality. I don’t remember what he said, but he made me laugh a couple times. 

When the Chats hit the stage, I was reminded why Philadelphia can’t have nice things. From throwing snowballs at Santa Claus at sports games, to ringing the Liberty Bell with a hammer, to unsuccessfully trying to boo Bill Burr off stage, it’s not the friendliest city. I’ve seen L7 storm off stage and vow never to play “this fucking shithole town again.” Most touring bands hate playing Philly and they should. It’s like going through a frat boy hazing ritual, but without getting any sweet job connections.

In true Philly form, some douche-nozzle pegged singer/bassist Eamon Sandwith in the back of the head with a water bottle before the band even started playing. It still had water in it, so it must have hurt like hell. (More of Will Smith slap trickle-down, if you ask me.)

I don’t know what was up with security at the event, but someone dickhead kept fucking with  Sanwith between songs. Of course, an Australian redhead can only be expected to endure so much bullshit. Sanwith finally shut the heckler up with an attempted boot to the head. 

Totally justifiable, in my opinion. I just wish that his Doc Martins had connected and knocked some smarts into that asshat.

Anyone could tell that incident ruined the whole night for the boys. The Chats steamrolled through their set. I know they have been flirting with a more hardcore sound, but “Smoko” was almost unrecognizable at the clip they played it. The Chats ended early and skipped the encore. Total bummer, but I can’t fault the band. I hope Philly didn’t blow it and The Chats come back again.

Molchat Doma

w/ Wassup Gina at Underground Arts

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

We are Ready!

I’m usually not a big fan of DJ’s unless I’m bearing glowsticks, but Wassup Gina has her charm. 

My wife described her best. “I love how she half-heartedly dances around, like she’s too cool for her own music.” 

Gina ended her set with Joy Division, the perfect segway for the headliner. 

The singer of Molchat Doma has everything you want from a Darkwave band: He’s Eastern European, he dresses like an unemployed  grave digger, and he sings in Russian. I have no clue what homeboy is saying, but it’s mournful and vodka soaked. Dracula would give this guy a hug.

It always creeps me out seeing a band with a machine instead of a drummer. Hey Molchat, when you guys are ready to take your sound to the next level with a real drummer, hit me up. Paradoxically, the less English you know, the easier it will be to hang out with me.

Ever notice that there is always some big head blocking everyone’s view, wearing a stupid ironic hat that guarentees he will never get laid? Notice how his side to side dance provides maximum blockage for the vertically challenged. 

The Viagra boys

 W/ Provoker @ The Underground Arts 

 Apr 2, 2022.

I wished I had filmed this footage. Yes, being there was as fun as it looks.

I really dug Provoker live. I liked watching their drummer play a Alexis drum pad while wearing  long disco ball earrings that swung with every beat. Each member of the band had cooler hair than me.

The Viagra boys brought the ruckus. It was singer Sebastian Murphy’s birthday and, as a gift, Philly dropped the poor guy on his head the first time he stage-dived.

After limping back on stage Murphy said, “You guys drop me on my birthday, Philly? Come on, I’m fat but I’m not that fucking fat!”

Clearly a man who learns lessons, Murphy only jumped into the crowd about six times after that.

Here he talks about Philly, telling us what we wanted to hear. The new song was “Ain’t No Thief.”

I don’t think this guy ever stops practicing his sax, not even on the plane.

Śmigus-dyngus!! Today, April 12th, is Dyngus Day. Prepare Thy Pussy Willow Switches!

Dyngus day is a Polish tradition celebrated on the day after Easter Sunday. Men dump water on women or dunk them in a river. The women retaliate by hitting them with pussy willow switches, throwing crockery at them, or least interesting of all, giving them gifts of hard boiled eggs. The ritual represents the spring rain, fertilization, and, well, making whoopie.

So my wife and I celebrate it every year. She always forgets but I set a phone reminder. 

When my alarm went off today she was playing on her phone so I postponed my attack. I bided my time like a ninja assassin in the living room and watched Storage Wars. Ever the neat freak, she rolled her eyes, entered the living room, and brought me my glass. “Steve, why are you leaving glasses of water laying around?” 

“Śmigus-dyngus!”  I threw the water and nailed her. (No, I didn’t hit her in the face. I missed and hit her stomach.)  

“You handed me the glass! This is the best Dyngus day ever!” I said, getting my gloat on.

She laughed and said, “You mean the best Dyngus for me!”

 Little did I know she had a pussy willow switch stashed under the couch.  

(Note to self: never Śmigus-dyngus in your underwear again! Ouch!)

I encourage everyone to celebrate Dyngus Day in their own way, disregarding the traditional gender rules as necessary.

After all, Dyngus Day only comes once a year.

You decide! Which Religion Produces the Best Musicians?

Mormonism

Representative: The Osmond Brothers Band

Song: Crazy Horses

Check out a young, presumably uncaffeinated Donny Osmond crushing it on keys! All his brothers look like recessive prototypes of him, just like with me and my older brothers.

Islam

Representative: Mdou Moctar

Song: Afrique Victime

They don’t call this dude the muslim Hendrix just becuase he is also a left handed guitar player. The guy is a maniac. And like Hendrix, his entire band’s shreds too. Even the venerable Marky Ramone would struggle to keep this pace up. (“Hold my spaghetti sauce . . .”)

Buddhism

Representative: Dharma (Taiwan)

Song: No freaking clue.

Satan, you look like you put on weight! Were you hanging out with Buddah again?

Famous Buddhist converts include David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, John Cage, and Adam Youch from the Beastie Boys.

Paganism

Representative: Dar Williams

Song: “The Christians and the Pagans.”

I don’t know how Dar brought the christians and the pagans to the same table, but I bet ten bucks that whatever she served them was vegan and gluten free. 

Methodist

Representative: Nina Simone

Song: Mississippi Goddamn.

Her mom was a preacher. As if you couldn’t tell. She used His name in vain after four children were killed in a racially motivated church bombing.

Catholicism

Representative: The Innocence Mission

Song: Warm as Yellow

Featuring Lancaster County Pennsylvania’s finest guitar player/ teacher Don Paris and his wife Karen on vocals, the Innocence Mission were always a treat to see live at the Chameleon Club (RIP). I was in a band that shared a rehearsal building with them and they were always super nice to us and everyone else. 

Born Again Christians

Representative: Jermey Enigk (Sunny Day Real Estate)

Song: Return of the Frog Queen

Nothing like a good mental breakdown to cause a hotel room conversion. 

Atheism

Representative: XTC 

Song: Dear God

Apparently, Andy Partridge isn’t very appreciative of his God-given musical talents and used them to write a song against Him. What a dick!

Satanism

Representative: Ghost 

Song: Secular Haze

When it comes to being Satanists, they guys are the Satan-IST. These guys really walk the walk and talk the talk, with songs that are downright pretty. That’s how they lure you in. They use the dark lord’s honey instead of Beelzebub’s wicked vinegar.

Church of the Subgenius 

Representative: Devo

Song: Uncontrollable Urge

If you don’t know, now you do.  Devo believes that man didn’t evolve from apes. They believe we de-evolved from those hairy superior lifeforms.

“I don’t practice what I preach, because I’m not the sort of man I’m preaching to.” J.R. “Bob” Dobbs, leader of the Church of the Subgenius.

Hare Kirshna

Representative: The Cro-Mags

Song: We Gotta Know

The kings of Krishna-core, up to their usual hijinks.

Scientology 

Representative: The Apollo Stars 

Song: You need to hear the whole damn record.

All the players were hired guns. L Ron Hubbard was a huge jazz fan and engineered the record himself, so there is some crazy panning shit straight from the planet Xenu.I like to picture Tom Cruise rocking out to this on the treadmill.

Judaism

Representatives: Buddy Rich and Sammy Davis Jr.

Song: Dance/drum battle

Judaism might have been represented by the The Beastie Boys  or Leonard Cohen, but as you remember from the Buddhism section, Ad-Rock and Leonard converted.

So, instead, you get Buddy Rich and Sammy Davis Junior locked in a drum/tap dancing battle in a three way battle against a very stoned gentile, Mr. Gene Krupa. Who wins? Everybody.

Weird, Obscure, Strange, and Overlooked Bass Lines that Shred.

Photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels

Infectious Grooves-Violent and Funky. Not sure of what ever became of bass player Robert Trujillo but I hope he is still able to eek out a living with music.

XTC- Helicopter

“Hey man, can you make your bass sound like a helicopter?” “You got it, Andy.”

Roxy Music-Love is the Drug

Real drugs are also fantastic. I’m not sure what is up with the eye patch, either.

Porno for Pyros-Good God’s Urge

Mike Watt doesn’t play bass. He works it. My man is always clocked in.

Besides filling in on bass for the Stooges, he also played in fIREHOSE and the legendary Minutemen. The breakdown part at 3:10 gets stuck in my head for days at a time. The eagle-eyed will notice that this is the second song to feature drummer Stephen Perkins.

Pere Ubu -Small was Fast

Devo, Pere Ubu, Brianiac. . . Ohio sure produces a lot of strange music. One of the best live bands I’ve ever seen.

Meshell Ndegeocello-If That’s Your Boyfriend.

She used to play bass for some dude named David Bowie and can probably slap your damn face off with her thumb.

Spizz Athletico 80-Where’s Captain Kirk?

Everyone’s favorite Star Trek Tribute band from the 80’s. (If you don’t shed a tear listening to “Spock’s Missing”, then it is time to seek online therapy, you monster.)

Sonseed- Jesus is my Friend

Satan may inspire the best metal musicians, but it looks like Jesus might own ska.

Try to deny that breakdown at 1:22. I double-dog dare you.

Talking Heads- Sugar on my Tongue 

Tina Weymouth sure got a phat tone from a short scale bass. I love how her bass line is almost a duet with the vocals.

The Kinks- Sunny Afternoon

Maybe not the most obscure bass song, but when you run a Magazine called Next in Line. . .

A Sure Fire Hack that Makes Everyone Want to Jam With You.

Don’t Worry. This method has nothing to do with scale, modes, or time signatures. Technically, It doesn’t even really have to do with making music. But I guarantee, if you just follow these two simple steps, your jam card will always be full. Your bandmates will love you, and so will every sound engineer that you encounter live or in the studio. Heck, you may even snag some session work off of it. And you literally have to do nothing. 

Step One: Stop making noise and STFU when other people are trying to talk or trouble shoot gear around you.

Step Two: Repeat as necessary.

Who hasn’t been in this situation? The guitar player is showing the bass player the chords, while Keith Moon in the corner is thrashing away at full volume, trying to decide between a paradiddle, a double paradiddle, or a flamadiddle to lead into the next chorus. 

But, of course— and this isn’t said out loud very often— it’s not always the drummer’s fault. If only there was a way for the guitarist to doodle between songs without getting on everyone’s last nerve. Sigh.

But Wait! There is! We have the technology in the form of a new fangled device called the “volume knob.” (see picture below.) 

First try playing a power chord with the volume knob turned up all the way. Then ask your lead  singer how much back rent they owe their landlord. It’s not easy to discern the amount, is it*? 

 Now, turn the volume knob completely off. Notice how you are the only one who can hear the guitar now, and people around you can enjoy a conversation without shouting? Volume knob technology has also made its way to keyboards, Omnichords, Stylaphones, and even bass guitars! 

But what about Acoustic instruments, you say? They don’t have volume knobs. Drummers can play air drums or on your knees. Guitar players can just strum quietly. Didgeridoo players, use a didgeridoo mute. Everyone around you will be so much nicer to you.

Think you got it down? Take the quiz:

  1. You are waiting for an engineer to finish setting up your drums mic. His ear is located right next to an 24” Paiste Rude ride cymbal and he isn’t wearing hearing protection.

Should you: 

A. Do your best Meg White impression and wail on the edge of the cymbal.

B. See how your rim shot technique has come along. Is it loud enough yet? How about now?

C. Do nothing but stare blankly into space.

2.  Your keyboard player spilled another beer on her $650,000 vintage Farfisa organ. 

Should you:

A. See if you can get your sax to squeal like Big Jay McNeely.

B. Play the Benny Hill theme while she scrambles to find canned air to dry out the insides.

C. Do nothing but stare blankly into space.

3. The front of the house engineer yells “kick” and starts tweaking the gate on the drummer’s bass drum. Should you:

A. Jam along with kick drum ¼ notes, because what is drums without bass? Boring!

B. Tune your four-string at full blast for the whole audience to enjoy.

C. Do nothing but stare blankly into space.

Please forward this to anyone who needs to read it.

Answers: C. The answer is always C.

*This was a joke. Any lead singer worth their salt has no idea how much money the landlord is owed. That’s what roommates are for. That and toilet paper. And peanut butter. And . . .

Chinn and Chapman: Two Guys You Never Heard of Who Wrote Your Favorite Songs.

One part London rich kid, another part Australian waiter, songwriting duo Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman’s songs have more hooks than a pirate convention, scoring number one hits on both sides of the Atlantic. Helping to define glam rock by writing for bands like The Sweet, Mud, and Suzi Quatro, Chinnichap combined retro 50’s rock and rock with 1970’s long haired drugs. They also scored some surprise hits in the 80’s and 90’s with Tina Turner and Huey Lewis. Chinn still pens songs for folks like Ariana Grande, one was featured in some Disney movie.

Here are Chinn and Chappman’s greatest hits, along with a couple great misses thrown in. 

The Sweet: Ballroom Blitz

One of the cornerstones of glam rock, The Sweet made this one a classic. Remember Tia Carrere’s version in Wayne’s World?

Toni Basil: Hey Mickey

Besides singing this one hit wonder, Philly girl Toni Basil is also a respected choreographer. Pushing 80, she still shakes her tail feather at her dance studio. Also check out her amazing cover of Devo’s “Be Stiff.”

Suzi Quatro: 48 Crash

Oh my God, I love Suzi Qautro. One of Joan Jett’s Idols, she was most famous in the US for portraying Leather Tuscadero on Happy Days. She also played herself on Absolutely Fabulous. Hell of a Bass player too.

The song was written on a dare, after Chinn and Chapman boasted that they could write a song about anything and still score a UK number one. They silenced the haters when they wrote this hit song about the US stock market crash of 1848 combined with a naughty subtext about erectile dysfunction.

Exile: Heart and Soul

Did you know this Huey Lewis tune was a cover? Neither did I. One of the best riffs in history. 

Here is the original version which the News faithfully followed.

Tina Turner: You Better be Good to Me 

I’ve always been good to you, Tina. Chinnichap added collaborator Holly Knight to write this one. 

Mud: Tiger Feet.

I have no idea what tiger feet are either. It was the 70’s. No one does.

The Arrow: Touch Too Much

Speaking of Joan Jett, these guys also wrote “I Love Rock and Roll.”

Smokie: For a Few Dollars More.

Here a tear-jerker about a honky tonk angel.

Peter Noon Shoo Be Do Ah

The Herman’s Hermits frontman croons this ode to nostalgia. 

Racey: Lay Your Love on Me

Wow. I think Mongomery Burns did the choreography for this one. Great chorus and organ riff though.

New World: Rooftop Singing

I know it’s only Rock and Roll…

Check out “Period” in the Latest Issue of Antihumanist Magazine.

The Antihumanist Third Edition. Cover by Zuzanna.

Next In Line would like to congratulate Steve for being published in the best magazine from down under, The Antihumanist. (“Period” page 53)

Download a free copy here.

While you are at it, check out Joel Schroeder’s story “Howie Showie.” (Page 19). A friend of Next in Line Magazine, Joel tells stories of the sureal that always come highly recommended.

The Science is in: Every Cover of “Alone Again Or” is Awesome.

According to a 2021 independent study hosted by Next in Line Labs*, there are no terrible versions of the Love classic Alone Again Or. The lab has many theories as to why this is. Some point to the melody, some to the lyrics, while others to the greatest mariachi trumpet solo ever written, one so respected that nobody tries to put their wacky spin on it, playing it note for note with reverance in every version.

According to head researcher Dr. Lee Stephandoski, “You gotta be good enough to play the damn guitar part and you gotta be cool enough to know the damn song. And the Damned cover.” (Folks, this is EXACTLY why we at Next In Line leave the puns to the professionals.)

You be the judge! Know a shitty version of Alone Again Or? Drop us a line at Nextinlinemagazine@gmail.com

Arthur Lee. Let’s get this party started right. Yeah, yeah, he was in Love so this technically isn’t a cover, but I still don’t technically care. Look how badass he looks with the top hat/bandana combination.

The Damned. This was the cover heard round the world, the one that educated the punk rock masses.

Calexico. This is the cover that all the kids talk nowadays. I have no quarrel with these dudes.

The South Sea Alternate Choir and Friends. Not gonna lie, I thought this was going to be the first sucky version, but even the flutest proved me wrong. I own the same brass snare drum, but don’t play it nearly as well.

Gold Lake. When the ladies first started singing, I thought they were too talented, and would ruin the song by putting their fucking art into it, running up and down the scales like Steve Vai, pissing me off. But they kept it very tasteful, dark, and mysterious.

Ian Leith. Nice! my man practiced this one. This guy has as many friends as I do. To be unfair, this was the worst trumpet solo so far.

UFO. Buckle up.
Cocos Lovers. Also, no Trumpet.

Low Cost Covers. They use keyboard trumpets, but I’ll allow it. I love the singer’s voice.

Sneeze. Old heads keeping it real.

The Boo Radleys. Mariachi meets shoegaze.
This Random Uke Player with No Name. I thought she was going to suck, too. Playing this is hard enough on guitar, but she rose above.
Another Project with No Name. They should hook up with the Uke player above and form a supergroup with no name. I like the trumpet solo on guitar.

*Next in Line Labs is a subsidiary of the Next In Line Corporation and is no way affiliated with Next In Line Magazine.