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The Clark Howard of indie rock

Michael Oakley of the Silent Kids first became interested in budget home recording while attending the University of Georgia. He elaborates:

"My friend Andrew Rieger [Elf Power] bought a four-track recorder. Every time I called to see what was going on, he was staying home, recording songs all night. I thought that was a bizarre way to spend a Friday night. Later they released those recordings as their debut record, and I realized the potential of cheap home recording."

Oakley moved to Atlanta after graduation and formed the Silent Kids. He traded a video camera someone had given him for a used four-track recorder. "We didn't have a place to practice, so we would rehearse by running our instruments through the four-track and listening through the headphones."

For the Silent Kids' debut CD, Tomorrow Waits (scheduled for re-release early next year on Atlanta's Two Sheds label), Oakley invested $600 in an eight-track cassette recorder. Cassettes for it cost $2 each.

For the song "Lost in the Petrified Forest," Oakley wanted a maraca sound but didn't want to spend $20 on a pair for a 10-second part. "I grabbed a small plastic container full of oregano and shook it into a microphone," he laughs. "The result sounded fine to my ears."

For all the guitar tracks on the album, Oakley used a $125 guitar bought from a co-worker. "For an acoustic track," he says, "I used our bass player's father's guitar that was sold by Sears in the '60s. It probably cost him $10."

Not surprisingly, Oakley shops at thrift stores when the band tours. "In Alabama I bought a tiny old Casio keyboard," he says. I used it to make some of the 'spaceship exploding' sounds on the record. I used the button on the keyboard labeled 'Popcorn' for that."