Is it really a construction project if you’re not late, over-budget or both?

Day 4,234 – The war drags ever on. Okay, that was an exaggeration. But it’s now March 3rd and we’ve been building a recording studio (for a full recap, refer to my previous blog post) in beautiful San Luis Obispo all 63 days of 2019 so far. Of course, we’ve juggled construction with our day-jobs and “normal” lives, which has proven to be at least as challenging as anticipated, although our significant others have been real troopers throughout the process (my dog has been less understanding, but I’ve bribed her with lots and lots of bones and squeaky toys).

At the time of this writing, the live room is finally finished and is sufficiently acoustically “dead” to record in, and soundproofed thoroughly enough to satisfy the most finicky of neighbors (like ours). I can’t tell you what a relief it was when the decibel reader confirmed that the room was more than quiet enough for us to rehearse / record at all hours (including 9-5, M-F) in the industrial area of San Luis Obispo where our studio is nestled. Even though our first run-through of songs we’ve been playing forever would be generously decribed as “rusty as all hell,” I couldn’t help grinning like an idiot just be jamming and cranked up again.

I’d like to take a moment to rockognize the herculean efforts of our drummer and all-around workhorse, Mike Hamilton for doing the lion’s share of the construction work involved, and more often than not, with a smile on his face.

For those of you who are curious or are thinking about building something similar (take my advice: don’t!) here’s a brief outline of what we did. (Keep in mind, “we” means mostly Mike, but Dylan, Alejandro and I helped a bit)

Step 1: We built the frame of the jam room, a box inside our warehouse space, with storage up top and a nifty stairway to get up to the storage area. That was all done last Autumn, while I was on tour with Gruesome.

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Insulating the ceiling was the easy part. Figuring out how to screw in 8′ sheets of drywall up there was when shit got real. 

Step 2: We framed a wall on the right-hand side (the one with the finicky neighbor) with 1 layer of rock wool (insulation), and one layer of drywall.

Step 3: We did a layer of rock wool and two (!) layers of drywall on the ceiling.

Step 4: On the right-hand side wall, we left a 2″ air gap, then framed another wall, with another layer rock wool and three (!!!) layers of drywall.

Step 5: We framed the back and left-hand walls with a layer of rock wool and 2 layers of drywall.

Step 6: We framed the front wall / doorway, then left a 2″ air-gap and framed the inner front wall / doorway, both with a layer of rock wool and with 2 layers of drywall on the inner wall and 1 external layer of drywall on the front wall. We also lined the space between the two doors with foam and hung foam on the inside of the doors themselves.

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So much drywall. At this point, we’re one hanging-light-bulb-on-the-fritz-swinging-back-and-forth away from really capturing that “serial killer’s homemade prison” aesthetic.

Step 7: We carpeted the floor.

Step 8: We covered the right-hand side wall with sound-dampening foam, and then built sound traps – basically wooden rectangles insulated with, you guessed it, rock wool, wrapped in fabric, and hung them around the room to deaden as much sound as we could.

Step 9: We built a 3″ drum riser, insulated the bottom with (wait for it…) rock wool, sealed the bottom. We also lined the bottom with pieces of rubber from a (non steel-belted) tire in 1″ intervals.

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Mike’s insulating the door here, but you can see the sound traps and the half-way finished drum riser. I think this is the point when I started getting really impatient.

Step 10: AKA, the fun part – we moved in the gear.

Jam room
Ready to make some fucken noise! (in a way that’s respectful to our neighbors and is acoustically sound, of course!)

Now – we’ve furnished the control room, received delivery of our (admittedly dated) Pro Tools rig, and have ordered all of the myriad cables, microphones, monitors, mic clamps and accoutrements necessary to actually record the mountain of new material that we’ve accumulated for this next Exhumed record.

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The soon-to-be-operational control room. The view may suck, but we got an entire set of office furniture for $45 – who says Craigslist is just for tweakers and sexual deviants?

Because my philosophy is “if there weren’t deadlines, nothing would ever get done,” we have until April 2nd (when we board our flight for beautiful Monterrey Mexico to begin a 20 day Latin American tour which will be immediately followed by a week-long West Coast tour) to record a new album and EP. So in one sense, a huge amount of work is complete, which allows us to undertake another daunting task – recording the fucking record.

A month sounds like plenty of time right? Except that we haven’t been able to rehearse while the studio has been under construction. So there’s a fairly significant wrinkle in the equation. But fear not, dear readers – that’s never stopped us from undertaking a recording before.

I’ll keep you guys posted next time I come up for a breath.

Excelsior true believers!

Harv and the lads

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