JAM SPACES IN CALGARY

jamKNOWING THE RIGHT SPOTS

Practice. It’s one thing that every band needs to do but not every band can afford. Unless you’ve got tons of money to drop into a custom soundproof job in your basement or garage, then chances are you’re just like everyone else: scrounging around the available commercial spaces waiting for something to come up or furiously marking up the drawing board to think up an alternative.  It’s gotten even worse now that The New Black joined The Soundloft in rehearsal space heaven.

But fret not, because there are options within our glorious city. You just need to know where to look. In the following paragraphs you’ll find five worthwhile options to explore for you and your noise pollution.

1. Slaughterhouse Studios – 4223 – 16 St. SE: The main one. The big one. Slaughterhouse has been a staple of the Calgary musician community for close to 30 years. The former slaughterhouse (actually) is run by old bluesman and all around nice Bob Richardson, and should be the go-to place for just about everyone by now. Slaughterhouse comes equipped with five separate rooms, supplies gear if you need to rent, and is a local rarity in that it does hourly payments. In addition, they also have a fully functional studio to churn out demos and decent quality full-lengths, as well.

2. Dynamite Studios – 3021/3023 – 21 St. NE: Dynamite Studios, run by a man named Jonny Vincent, functions as a traditional studio, but also has six rooms that they rent out at a monthly rate. Unlike Slaughterhouse, only the main room of the building comes equipped, while the other rooms are left for bands to stock themselves. The two smaller rooms come at 130 square feet and $450 a month, while the four bigger rooms come at 225 square feet and $650 a month. Vincent noted that he already has the rooms full at this point in time, but plans to expand his clientele in 2014. If you’re interested, it would be best to get on the waiting list now.

3. Private Rehearsal Room: This is a new option that has been popping up on the Internet lately. Operated by Darren Gilbert, this lone room also charges by the hour ($35 per) and comes fully equipped with all the gear you could need. There is also the bonus of no rental fees and they can do live-off-the-floor recording at $200 for three hours. Contact tcanstudios@gmail.com.

4. Monthly Storage Units (Self Storage, Budget Storage, Sentinel Storage): It sounds sketchy, but it’s definitely an option if you’re in a crunch and have no other place to go. It’ll be difficult to squeeze everyone in within an 100 square foot box and not injure your band mates, but these places are generally deserted most of the time, so you don’t have to worry about noise complaints. The benefit to this kind of thing is that you have a guaranteed lock up and don’t have to worry about gear destruction from shoddy storage units or other bands.

5. Basements/Garages: If you’ve got a full house to work with and can’t afford to go full-fledged, top-tier with your soundproofing, then there are some things to do to your own space to avoid irate neighbours and periodic visits from the police. Among the things you can do include: Green Glue + custom cut sheet rock, sleeping bags and mattresses, egg cartons and stray carpet. There are a whole bunch of good DIY guides available if you’re willing to put in the time and effort. This kind of operation won’t set you back much financially, either.

So there you have it, musician friends. Although it is true that the rehearsing situation in Calgary is pretty bleak in comparison with some of the other major cities in Canada, there are always ways to go about and people to call if you really want to make something happen. Just be sure to be respectful to the room you do get and help keep the big name places busy so we don’t have any more impending foreclosures to deal with.

By Brandon McNeil
Photo; Courtesy of Hellborn Death Engines

One response to “JAM SPACES IN CALGARY

  1. Great article! Off the T-Can is a really excellent option with a ton of different amps. Darren is an excellent guy.

    If you are working on making your own space, understand that there is a difference between sound treatment and sound proofing. Sound treatment alters the way sound behaves within the space (frequency balance, amount of reflections, etc.). Sound proofing affects how much sound leaves the space. The only way to actually reduce transmission of sound is with mass and/or dead air space. If sound has to pass through double walls, lots of earth, or concrete it will be greatly attenuated. This is why basements are great.

    Carpeting your walls is not sound proofing (and is actually often detrimental sound treatment). Egg cartons are neither sound proofing nor sound treatment. You can buy or make your own sound panels to treat the space or, if you’re on a tight budget and simply need to deaden the room a bit, you can drape blankets or canvas on the walls or ceiling.

    If you need to reduce sound transmission out of the room, the first thing to look for is air gaps. It’s amazing how much you can achieve by tossing a towel in front of a large under-door gap. This won’t help with bass frequencies, but it will make a difference for vocals, guitars, and cymbals.

    Also, try to orient your setup in such a way that loud or bassy instruments are as far as possible from irritable neighbours. If you communicate with your neighbours about your respective needs it opens a discussion where improvements can be made. In one band house, our north neighbours had no complaints but our south neighbour was very sensitive. As soon as we moved the drums and bass to the north side of the basement she stopped commenting.

    Hope this helps!

    Ben Nixon
    Locomotive Ghost/Mossy Rock Productions

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