The Get Up Kids have spent their career making records in Chicago, Los Angeles and even Bridgeport, Conn. So it seemed about time they should make one closer to home.
What better way for the Lawrence/KC act to achieve this than by purchasing and renovating local landmark Red House Studios?
The five band members and longtime Red House producer/engineer Ed Rose bought out the venerable studio from owner Sam Platt in December. Since then, they've been busy transforming the Eudora-based property into a state-of-the-art facility.
"All it really needed was a little love," jokes Matt Pryor, singer/guitarist of The Get Up Kids.
"We've done a bunch of records and we've all gotten into home recording and stuff," he recalls. "And we've been hanging out with Ed forever. We know how talented he is, and we decided we want to work with him more. So we were just looking at Red House and thinking, 'Man, we should see if Sam wants to sell this place.'"
Rose says of his rock star partners, "They were at a point where they'd made the big major-label records and had gone to fancy studios. Now they were like, 'You know, doing one around home would be cool. Owning a studio would certainly be a great way to make a record and funnel money back into our pockets.'"
- Thursday, May 8, 2003, 7 p.m.
- Liberty Hall Cinema, 644 Massachussets Street, Lawrence
- All ages / $15
The group chose the name Black Lodge as a reference to David Lynch's warped TV series "Twin Peaks." Plus, it slyly presented a paraphrase of the opening lines of the Rolling Stones classic "Paint it Black. ("I see a Red House and I want it painted Black.")
"We like the idea of calling it a lodge," Pryor elaborates. "We're in the process of trying to find a 12-point buck to put up in the main room. Then we all should get smoking jackets."
The concept of a lodge environment is echoed by the studio's location. Eudora (population 4,307) provides a tranquil setting for bands tempted by the sinful enticements of a big city.
"There are fewer distractions," Rose says of the studio, which opened in Lawrence in 1989 and relocated to Eudora in 1997. "Because it's a little bit isolated it's tough for guys in bands to wander off and do things. It keeps people around and involved in the recordings. And it keeps people out of here, honestly."
Adds Pryor, "You're close enough to Lawrence that you can have all the comforts of home, but you're far enough away that you can still stay focused. The negative aspects of it? There's not much of a selection of food in this town. There's the Chinese/Mexican place that's two doors down. Then there's Cutter's across the street, which is bar food. Oh, and there's Sonic."
Those visiting Eudora will now learn the real meaning of sonic.
Black Lodge has upgraded much of Red House's equipment. ("We dumped a big pile of money into fancy new gear for the place," Rose says. "We're running the latest, greatest version of ProTools. It's an HD system; it'll do anything you want it to.")
However, the building itself has received the most amount of reconstructive surgery. The 5,000-square-foot site at 701 Main St. has accommodated a hotel, tavern, pizza parlor and even a funeral home during its 120-plus year history. It's a vast space filled with many secluded rooms, staircases and brick or stone walls.
"Cosmetically, we've cleaned the main studio part of it up considerably," Rose continues. (Images of the remodeled endeavor can be found at www.blacklodgerecording.com.) "But the huge thing we've done is the apartment upstairs, which has been totally redone ... Ninety percent of the stuff we're doing now is bands from out of state. Having a place for them to stay makes perfect sense."
Although the studio itself is owned by a local band (and managed by Kill Creek guitarist Ron Hayes), so far it has catered more toward national projects. Orange County ensemble Limbeck booked the month of January. Epitaph Records act Motion City Soundtrack claimed February, while Seattle's Emery took up most of March.
The drawback with this scheduling is that is has often squeezed out area artists from recording at Black Lodge.
"For me to go back and do more local stuff when it's mainly people looking to book weekends -- and they're trying to get 400 songs done in 10 hours -- that's just not that appealing anymore because I've done it for so long," confesses Rose, whose first session working at Red House was producing Nic Cosmos in 1991. "As long as I've got people coming in with enough money for two weeks to a month of my time, I tend to want to do more projects like that."
However, the proprietors say that Black Lodge will be more local-friendly in the coming months. They are in the process of building a B room that will be $100 a day cheaper than the A room. The search is on to locate engineers to handle the bulk of the B room work, which will likely be comprised of Lawrence bands and other regional acts.
"We're very pro local," Pryor says. "We honestly haven't had the chance yet -- because we've been booked solid since the day we opened -- but we're gearing up to have our Local Band Appreciation Month some time this summer. We're going to offer reduced rates to have local bands come in and do their demos. If I'd had that when we were starting out, who knows where we'd be now."
Learning to juggle
One thing The Get Up Kids are confident about is that this business venture will not curtail focus on the active band itself.
Just this week, the group -- which also includes guitarist Jim Suptic, bassist Rob Pope, drummer Ryan Pope and keyboardist James DeWees -- returned from several dates in New York City. And this Thursday they will perform along with DJnotaDJ, Approach and The Casket Lottery at Liberty Hall. The event is part of the Lawrence.com launch party and will benefit the Lawrence Schools Foundation.
"We all have so much other stuff going on in life, it's just a matter of scheduling," Pryor explains. "But if you got to go on tour, you got to go on tour."