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Thursday, November 1, 2007

Your Mouth and the Microphone

posted by on November 1 at 12:27 PM

germs.jpgMicrophones are breeding grounds for germs. Rappers and singers sing and yell. Mouths and throats are opened. Saliva is sprayed and spread. Spit flies—right onto the mic. And there it festers. There it meets spit from the eight people who were on the mic before you. During your set, you unknowingly touch your very own mouth to that mic.

Meet Rick. Rick was on the mic before you and was coughing up a lung. Rick is the bass player for a Southern metal rock band called “Crowbar.” Rick enjoys methamphetamines, Budweiser, and nude women. Crowbar has been on the road for six weeks and Rickís not too prone to wash his hands, or himself. In a gas station bathroom on the way to the show, Rick peed, flushed, and picked his crotch. He bought Goobers and Doritos and after he ate them, he licked his fingers. Then he spat all over the mic that you touched your mouth to.

beach.jpgOn a microscopic level, microphones are like the beaches in Brazil where itís legal to have sex at night. Anything goes. Your mouth and Rickís cells, all over each other.

A Dr. Smith at Swedish Medical Center spoke:

Cold and flu viruses can survive outside the body for up to 48 hours, depending on the specific virus and surface type. They survive longer on nonporous surfaces such as plastic and metal.

How can you guard against mic germs? You can bring your own mic or use a foam mic cover. But will you have time to hook your mic up? Will you remember it in the frenzy of breakdown? There are also sanitizer sprays, but I canít see sound engineers being too happy about having their mics sprayed.

Singer / songwriter, Daniel G. Harmann says:

My mouth always touches the mic. I donít like to think about the germs. I just think of it as a brotherhood of saliva. I try to eat right, take vitamins, and have a strong immune system. Those spray sanitizers make the mic taste terrible. Itís like drinking air freshener. Iíd almost rather have the germs.

SaniGuard Sanitizer Spray says:


The next time some slobbering drunk, or sick person hands you back the microphone, spray on SaniGuard and kill those harmful germs within 45 seconds, leaving your mic germ free and keeping you healthy for your next gig!

SaniGuard ģ is a dry on contact sanitizer spray perfect for: telephones, remote controls, toilet handles, light switches, door knobs, refrigerator handles, food preparation surfaces, keyboards, microphones and thousands of other contact areas where germs and airborne disease may spread by contact from person to person.

Happy cold and flu season. Itís a fight—your immune system vs. Rickís germs. Heís not going to wash his hands, so you should get your own mic.

RSS icon Comments


Stupidly, I have never given too much thought to how gross it is to share a mic. When I am performing, germs are usually the last thing on my mind. Setting up gear, remembering words, adjusting to the sound of the time to worry about germs. I recently acquired my own vocal mic to take to shows with me - not because of germ issues, but now that I am thinking about it I am really happy I will now have my own mic with my own germs!

Posted by Zera Marvel | November 1, 2007 12:51 PM

I remember one band who's soundguy came out with mouthwash and a toothbrush and scrubbed each microphone before they took the stage.

Maybe the mixture was more than just mouthwash, but something more powerful, like anti-bacterial super-rubbing blue alcohol or whatever hairdressers dip their combs in. That stuff.

There should be more of that at rock shows.

Posted by matthew fisher wilder | November 1, 2007 1:10 PM

I want a toothbrushing assistant. To scrub everything. That would be sweet.

Posted by trent moorman | November 1, 2007 1:17 PM

Great post Trent.

I have a "don't ask, don't tell and don't look" policy when it comes to mics.

Seriously? Ever take a look at a mic? They are disgusting and crusty. Ever taken one apart? I've seen bongs that are cleaner.

So the next time that crusty garage punker, who just spent 45 minutes slobbering over the mic hands it to you, think twice where you put it next.

Posted by Jeff | November 1, 2007 1:24 PM

If you're worried, buy your own mic and bring it with you. i try to keep mine clean but it's fighting a losing battle a lot of times. it makes me gag seeing some of the crap that comes out of the windscreens when i clean them. would it be too much to ask to have you brush your teeth after eating that big load of garlic pasta before you get on stage???
and maybe a mint or some gum might make your own breath not quite so putrid when you smell it coming back at you off of the mic.

Posted by Jim Anderson | November 1, 2007 1:25 PM

I shouldn't have done this post. I'm seriously sick to stomach now.

"Seriously? Ever take a look at a mic? They are disgusting and crusty."

That is totally grossing me out. I'm ordering the SaniGuard right now. And I'm going to eat an apple.

Jim, is the spray stuff bad for mics? Would you be pissed if you saw someone spraying your mics?

Posted by trent moorman | November 1, 2007 1:31 PM

Herpes is a word that comes to mind. Alcohol wipes help, too.

Posted by jimmy | November 1, 2007 2:09 PM

Trent - Sick Genius Award. The Brazilian beach is what gets me. That is not the image I need the next time I step to the mic. Just people fuckin out there on the beach. Mixed with all the gnarly spit and bad bong water. Great.

Posted by Daisy | November 1, 2007 2:09 PM

foam mic covers are the cheapest way to deal with this...
damn i'm glad i don't sing!!!

Posted by dan | November 1, 2007 2:13 PM

Have to say, this reminds me of the last part of the movie Creepshow. Where the guy is paranoid of germs and he's all anal retentive. He sees a roach and goes ape shit.

It ends with him going into his vacuum chamber room to get away from all the roaches. But roaches start coming out of his mouth!!! And the bust up through his stomach. It's awesome.

Posted by Roaches | November 1, 2007 2:14 PM

I'm not sure about that particular product. However, when I worked as a karaoke host (a story for another time), the owner insisted that once every two weeks I unscrew the tops of the microphones, separate the foam liner from the mesh cap and soak them both for a few minutes in a simple bleach-water solution.

I've also had performers bring their own microphones and while most do it simply because they prefer their own, I have had a musician or two say that it's strictly for germ-related phobia. Me, I'm from the school that if you use a cleaner to get rid of germs, you can still get something from the packaging. Who knows who else touched it before you?

Posted by Jason Josephes | November 1, 2007 2:52 PM

Here's another spray cleanser. I can't really figure out how you use it. They have a mic stand with this spray cleaner hooked up to it. Clubs are going to love this stuff. How not rock is this?

Oh, and I love how the first part of the ad immediately jumps into a thing about Herpes. Fear based marketing:

SingClean -

"IMPORTANT NOTICE: Help stop the spreading of Herpes! Did you know that 4 out of 5 people have Herpes today? Make sure you use a SingClean whenever and wherever you sing!

Why pass a friend the flu, or worse yet, get sick yourself? The SingClean (a one-hand microphone press system) is celebrating its seventh year in the marketplace, and in that time we have protected thousands of singers from passing viruses and germs on the microphones they use when performing."

Posted by trent moorman | November 1, 2007 3:32 PM

There's a simple solution to this. Rock so hard that the germs are obliterated (accomplishing this is easier if you're drinking high octane fire water between songs).

Posted by harder | November 1, 2007 4:38 PM

Good reminders until the diseases ease, everyone better head up.

Posted by Tante | November 1, 2007 5:40 PM

EEEEEEWWWWWW. I never thought about the inside of microphones. You are right. That is completely sick. Yeah, I would think strong acohol is the only way to combat this.

Posted by Bobber | November 1, 2007 6:09 PM

And just so you know, maybe you didn't know -

There is band, from the South, called Crowbar. They look and sound exactly how you think they do:

Trent, do you know these guys? The bass player's name is Pat though.

Posted by Bobber | November 1, 2007 6:16 PM

Trent IS those guys.

Listen, it's not like you're aren't already wading through that shit on the bus, in the bathroom (El Corazon? Hello...), or at a million other stops along the way.

At least with a microphone, there's a good chance that there's a decent amount of booze on it.

Posted by Daniel G. Harmann | November 1, 2007 6:49 PM

I'm fairly certain I have microphones to thank for contracting both mono and strep throat. After having my tonsils the grow to the size of golf balls a couple months ago, I now pack my own mic.

Posted by JJ Hellgate | November 2, 2007 12:24 PM

Trent, i'm not so sure the spray stuff would do that much good. it might be a short-term fix, but it doesn't do anything about the CHUNKS of shit that are lodged in the little piece of foam lining the wire mesh of the mic ball.

chewed food particles that are being broken down by saliva.

and you blame ME because the mic smells bad.

screw off. i'm buying a biohazard suit and moving to the arctic. no germs in the deep freeze!

Posted by Jim Anderson | November 2, 2007 1:38 PM

Siiiiiiiiiiick. Nooooooooooo. Jim you can't go. We need you to help fight mic germs!

Posted by E Mansion | November 2, 2007 1:56 PM

If you play after Tullycraft, you better change the mics because you mos def will get either the hiv or the GAY.


Posted by Harold Reynolds | November 3, 2007 3:35 PM

this is why many of us bring our own mics! you will hardly ever get sick on tour if you do this.

Posted by maggie | November 6, 2007 4:12 PM

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