Snap the Power

Dimmer switch socket and fan speed control for the aircon

The electrics are going in. The control room will have a fan speed control so we can adjust the flow of cooled air into the room. The lights will have a dimmer – for those ‘Barry White’ sessions, I imagine. The control room lighting will consist of eight directional spots, flush-mounted into the ceiling. We don’t quite have enough ceiling height in the live room to do the same so we’re going for three flush circular dome lights in a line along the centre of the room – you can see the location of the furthest one in the picture below.

Back wall of the live room, with light location in the ceiling.

Back wall of the live room, with light location in the ceiling.

Not too Aston Villa, I'm hoping?

We ran out of green hessian to do all the walls in the live room – we could easily order more, but the batches might not have matched perfectly, and it would have held up the project. So we’ve decided to go with all-green walls (including the bass traps, but maintaining the claret ‘V wall’) in the control room, and choose a different colour scheme in the live room. The live room walls will be blue-grey, and the ceiling will be the same light blue as in the control room.

Jeff’s away setting up their next job, and Artis is finishing more of the frames of the interior walls. Here’s one under construction – this is the grey-blue colour we’re using for the live room walls.

Once the frame is made, Artis stretches the hessian over it and staples it in place.

Once the frame is made, Artis stretches the hessian over it and staples it in place.

The frames are made in situ, up against the wall, then once they’re the perfect shape & size they’re removed and the hessian is stapled to them. I was on my way to the shops today and asked Artis if he needed anything picking up. He requested sticking plasters, as the friction from hessian-stretching had scraped several layers of skin off his knuckles. He had been using gaffer tape as hand protection. Very ‘rock’, but I imagine quite painful. We got him the most cushioned plasters we could find.

And here's the same frame resting up against the wall, ready to be nailed to the MDF/rockwool stud wall. In this pic you can see the different blues - greyish-blue for the walls, lighter blue for the ceiling.

And here's the same frame ready to be nailed to the MDF/rockwool stud wall.

The cool thing about this kind of commitment is that the guys don’t have to do it – they could stretch the hessian much less, and it would still look OK. But they know that over time the fabric will settle, and eventually the walls will start to look wobbly. I’ve seen this look in a few studios so it’s great to know they’re future-proofing the interior so well, albeit at the expense of their knuckles. Ouch.

True colours

Don't mess with the Sandworms - they can bite your arm off.

Don't mess with the Sandworms - they can bite your arm off.

Firstly, a quick thank you to everyone who’s made suggestions about bringing the studio and phone box projects together (see ‘categories’ on the right hand side). The best suggested studio-related uses for the phone box include shower for sweaty musicians, vocal booth for agrophobic session singers, and banjo booth (need not contain an XLR socket).

The aircon tubes have gone in (the silver snakes that look to a man of my vintage like David Lynch’s sandworms from Dune). These will carry cooled air in from the refrigerated lobby area along the side walls, inside the baffles, and into the live and control rooms respectively. Today also (day 2 of phase 2) Jeff and Artis have constructed the front wall that will eventually have the fake garage doors stuck to them. The original plan was for this exterior wall to be made of concrete, but we learned that the asphalt driveway outside the original garage doors has no foundations under it – so eventually a concrete wall would, er, sink!

Jeff told me a story about a client to whom this had happened a few years back – the guy had assured him that the foundations were sound, so Jeff dutifully constructed a heavy exterior wall. After a few weeks, it sank ever so slightly during one of the client’s studio sessions, preventing the heavy acoustic door from opening and locking the client and his musicians inside. Jeff was called from another site to come and let them out – he had to cut through the door to get in; they were stuck in there for around 7 hours, and apparently got really bored (lightweights – I can spend that long editing a vocal!).

So, if I’m to be potentially imprisoned, what colour should my cell walls be? Now that we’re well on the way to choosing a sofa, here’s another chance for you, dear reader, to influence the design of the studio. Essentially, we have two colour decisions to make (walls and ceiling) and four colours of hessian to choose from (these are rough photos of the fabric rolls, and the colours don’t come up great, but you get the idea – for info the green is slightly deeper than this). The walls and ceiling have to be different colours – a single block of colour will look ‘orrible. Scroll down, and vote now!

Light grey

Light grey

Red

Red

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Light blue

Light green

Light green

Aircon pipe feed on the left-hand wall of the live room, seen here from the lobby.

Aircon pipe feed on the left-hand wall of the live room, seen here from the lobby.

It takes two

The ceiling now has two layers of plasterboard – one widthways and another lengthways. Right now there’s noticeable isolation in the room, even with thin garage doors forming one of the walls.

Jeff pointed out that the raised floor in the lobby gives us a bit of a dilemma. If we raise the floor level, we won’t have an interior step up. This means the cosmetic/fake garage doors on the outside would have to be some two or three inches off the floor – creating a ‘lip’ at ground level that wouldn’t suggest to an observer that this was a garage for anyone but the owner of the most rugged of 4x4s – who liked a bumpy offeoad experience when putting the car away at night.
So in order to make the studio look suitably garage-like from the outside (to avoid advertising the nickable guitars therein) we may need to rethink the interior step.

In order to create the ceiling height specified in Howard’s drawings, Jeff has decided to raise the roof one more time. Not by a whole block’s worth, but just by a couple of inches. In the picture above you can see where the roof has been screwed to the wooden batons, and the batons fixed to the concrete with metal strips.
According to Jeff, the guys haven’t really started work yet; “All this is just basic construction – we haven’t made the boxes for the actual rooms yet. We’ll have this finished in a day or two – THAT’S when we’ll start building you a studio!”.