After much cajoling, I decided to add on to the back of our garage in our home- not a ton, but enough to have a single performance room and a very small "control room" to sit a mixing board and some Tascam DA-88's in, and that would be enough. Over a very short amount of time, I outgrew that and needed more room, so my performance room became the control room and I built out my now-famous drum room, much to the chagrin of my wife and neighbors......actually, my neighbors have never complained.
It was a pretty simple plan, but I designed the drum room to have no square walls (alleviates standing waves) and a cantilevered ceiling (more squashing of standing waves). I added a 5' x 3' window, ran 16 channels of XLR to it along with 8 channels of foldback (to a small Mackie mixer for a headphone box) and voila! We're in business! To date, I've produced somewhere in the neighborhood of 65 albums using that room, and have received rave reviews from drummers around town- their kits sound amazing- and, I've even recorded 3 top-10 singles and won an award for Best Produced Independent Christian Record in 2005 for Todd Koeppen's "No Ladder" album. Very cool- the room has worked like a charm - so well, in fact, that I didn't even put treatment up in that room for almost 10 years because I really liked the way it sounded. (It sounds even better now that it's treated.)
But- there's a problem. Because of my studio layout, it's nearly impossible for me to record a live group here. I'd have to remotely record bands at other, larger studios in town- but that got really expensive and added quite a bit of hassle for me, since there would have to be audio conversion. I kind of got used to it, but then a really unfortunate thing happened- one of the main studios that I used frequently for live tracking had to move and scale down, and became more of a "post-production" studio. No big drum room and a really strange layout.......darn it.
Since I really don't advertise my studio all that much, it wasn't really a problem for me. I could just do what I always did and track a drummer and maybe myself on bass and a keyboard player for basic tracks and overdub like a mad man. That works, but it makes scheduling a PITA since I have to do multiple sessions for each instrument/vocal.
But, in mid-2014, the word got out that the stuff that was coming out of my studio sounded really good, and I got busier. Juggling the logistics of a small room and a large amount of work meant that a breaking point was soon to happen. It was just a matter of when. When my good friend, Mark Bittler (he and I played in the funk band, "Bump Kitchen" for a few years together) recorded his first album, "My Name Is Mark" here, we encountered a lot of space issues- which I worked around, but the hassle factor was pretty high. Mark's album marked a milestone for me, personally, as I think it's probably the best sounding record I've done to date, and it turns out that others have really latched onto it. So much so, that Mark scored a label deal with a small, boutique local label here in Seattle, and the album is already doing very well, in spite of the fact that it was just released a few weeks ago.
And, here comes the breaking point: people have noticed that record. I've been getting absolutely hammered by people asking me to produce them- which is great!!! But, I'm out of space.
So- I'm going to have to expand. I posted on Facebook the other day that I am expanding and had a bunch of friends start deluging me with questions, so I posted something today to show what I'm going to be doing and got asked to write a blog about the expansion- so, here we go on that.
I'm posting pictures here to show you just how crowded it's become in here- remember, that I work out of this studio all day, every day- for both music and my day-job as a developer for a "somewhat large software company in Redmond that you may have heard of before" so making this space work for double-duty is pretty taxing. There's SO much stuff- it's stupid. Maybe if I can spread out a little, I can get even more work done!
Enjoy the pictures, folks- these are the "before" sets. I'll try and post the "during" when we start the construction in about 2 weeks.
|Here's the control room as of today. Note the headphone distro box sitting on top of the near-field. Not optimal.|
|Another view of the control room. It's a disaster in here.|
|My "vocal booth" which right now serves as storage for amps, mikes, tools- everything but vocals.|
|This is outside the drum room- and where the new room will be built.|
|The other side of where the new room will be- hopefully a better place for my Hammond M3.|
|The drum room- acting as storage for my kit- because I had to track a vocal in there the other day and there's nowhere else to put the kit!|
|More of the drum room with crap everywhere.|
|New floor plan. The new room is the 12' x 12' on the upper right.|
|Rendition of looking from the new room into the drum room.|
|Rendition of looking from the control room through the drum room into the new room.|
|Looking from the drum room into the new room. Control room is on the right.|
|Leaving the control room into the new room. Drum room is behind the sliding glass door.|
|Wider angle from inside the new room. Door on the left is into the control room, with the drum room to the right behind the sliding glass door.|