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.”