SHARE
Junior Spencer Bohlinger, sophomore Joseph Harvey and junior Montie Mont­gomery practice at the new recording studio at Par­liament, an off-campus house. Courtesy | Brian Freimuth

It’s 3:30 in the morning and sophomore Tyler Sechrist is running on full adren­aline. Lay­ering the dif­ferent ele­ments of the song, the drums, the bass and rhythm guitar, and the vocals, all recorded last night, Sechrist finally comes out with the final product: a cover of “Little Black Sub­marines” by the Black Keys.

Blasting it the next morning, he wakes up his seven house­mates, but instead of the normal indignant responses at being woken up so early, the band “Gulf” listens in excitement to the fruits of their hard work.

“Everybody came out and was like, ‘oh my gosh,’” Sechrist said. “It was so much fun. It’s that kind of excitement, knowing this is an oppor­tunity to record that doesn’t come around often.”

This kind of “recording high” is thanks to the equipment that the members of the off-campus house called “Par­liament” have been slowly accu­mu­lating over the last semester, which includes mul­tiple key­boards, drums, two sound­boards, and two pianos.

After junior Montie Mont­gomery broke one of the pedals of his pianos when moving in, the studio became known as “Broken Pedal Studio.”

One crucial piece of equipment was missing, though: A MOTU LP32, which records the dif­ferent instru­ments and sounds and indi­vid­ually inputs them into a com­puter, giving the sound the kind of clearness heard in pro­fes­sionally-recorded songs. This par­ticular piece cost $500, and the members of Par­liament were finding it very dif­ficult to scrape up the money on their college budgets. However, donor Don Tocco pro­vided them the funds.

Sechrist had pre­vi­ously worked with Tocco, editing some of his speeches at the college, and after inviting Sechrist to breakfast, Tocco offered to cover the cost.

“Over the course of breakfast he asked what I did for fun and I said: ‘Well I’m starting this recording studio, but we just ran into a road­block and we’re all kind of broke at this point,’” Sechrist said. Tocco offered to cover that cost.

With that piece, the small, humble studio at Par­liament went from a room of instru­ments and musi­cians to a pro­fes­sional recording studio, capable of recording any­thing from rock to R&B or hip-hop.

Sophomore Asa Hoffman and Sechrist both hoped to create a place for the musi­cians on campus to record without the high costs and stress of recording with a “high­fa­lutin pro­ducer,” as Hoffman put it.

“The studio is open to record for campus bands,” Sechrist said. “The goal is to make it affordable for college stu­dents. It won’t be the high end cost of a pro­fes­sional recording studio around the area. The goal is to make it so that stu­dents can actually record.”

Hoffman says the studio has “all of the upsides of a pro­fes­sional studio without the down­sides.” Working with a pro­ducer in a studio can often limit the cre­ative license of the artist, since the fin­ished product of a song typ­i­cally diverges from the artist’s vision.

“That dia­logue between pro­ducers and musi­cians is really special,” Hoffman said. “One of most enjoyable things I’ve done is working with artists and helping them find a direction for their song, espe­cially if it’s an original song. That can be cool to see the journey a song goes through, from when you listen to it to when it comes out.”

Junior Brian Freimuth is part of both “Gulf” and “The Panes,” two bands which have recorded at the studio. According to Freimuth, being able to record in a studio which allows for more indi­vidual license and time to create can vastly change the expe­rience.

“Because we’re still on the learning curve, we can move stuff around and try new things,” Freimuth said. “When we recorded with “The Panes,” we found that jamming all at once worked well, even though all the noises from the instru­ments flooded into the micro­phones. For recording with Montie, we could layer sounds.”

That level of freedom in the cre­ative process inevitably creates a kind of adren­aline.

“You hit that learning curve, as you climb that you think, ‘dang that is so cool,’” Freimuth said.   

Although no music has been offi­cially pub­lished yet, an original song has been pro­duced by “The Panes,” of which Hoffman is the lead singer, and a few songs have been recorded.

According to Sechrist, the studio is expecting to host a country western band, and a singer-song­writer doing an acoustic remix of an electric song.

“We are willing to work with people whatever style they prefer, whatever direction they want to go,” Hoffman said.

Both Hoffman and Sechrist hope to start a recording club on campus so that learning about the tech­nology and even­tually using it will not be a priv­ilege for only those who cur­rently live in Par­liament.

“The goal is that once all of us graduate, the studio doesn’t die,” Sechrist said. We’re still working on putting that together. The goal would be that the upper­classmen in the club would be able to work with the low­er­classmen in the club so that there’s a cycle.”

Mont­gomery, who also lives at Par­liament, has been cre­ating music in the last few years and after signing to a label this summer, is planning on pro­ducing an album with his band “Gulf.” Now that he has the oppor­tunity to record with better equipment, pro­ducing music will be much easier, Mont­gomery said.

“Now I can also just sit down and mic up my com­puter, and sit down for three to four hours, plunk around with pieces,” Mont­gomery said. “It’s easier. It allows for more artistic direction, it allows for better clarity. Before, there was a really low-fi sheen.”

According to Freimuth, the recording studio has opened up new pos­si­bil­ities for him and other artists.

“I wish we had more oppor­tu­nities to play and have gigs,” Freimuth said. “Some­times the floor breaks and you can’t, but that’s fine. Now that we have the recording studio, there’s less of a pressure to play gigs. You can also get a kick out of recording, and showing people.”

  • Jen­nifer Melfi

    audio pro­duction is a hobby of mine as well. Glad this pastime is being pursued by current stu­dents.

    I hate to tell them though, that even in fra­ter­nities, it is hard to keep tra­di­tions going. Outside of that formal oblig­ation, it almost never happens once the charis­matic leader of the off campus house leaves.