Cohere Bandwidth: A Practice Space’s First Year in Review

We’ve compiled data on how many Fort Collins bands rehearse at Cohere Bandwidth, which bands practice the most and our goals for the next year.

Cohere Bandwidth: Work Interrupted

 

Wire-Faces-pic

As independent professionals, we all hit a point where taking conference calls at our coffee table no longer makes sense for our brand or our sense of accomplishment. It’s the same for musicians. At some point aimless noodling doesn’t make sense for the band or great accompaniment.

Freelancers join coworking communities to add some routine to their day. It turns out that musicians need the EXACT SAME THING. A little structure in rehearsal makes all the difference.

So we wondered, what happens when a band goes from no plan to A Plan? I interviewed Shane since Wire Faces has a pretty great rehearsal system to get songs from draft to DONE.

What elements make your rehearsal so damn effective?

  • Shane-The most important thing is having a consistent schedule. Randomness does not breed harmony. We plan ahead what we’re going to work on: whether it’s to work on these specific songs or to work on an idea. I also prep the practice space in advance to record the rehearsal or we plan to rehearse acoustically depending on what type of venue we’re practicing for.
  • The next most important component is to set a goal: several rehearsals lead up to a finished product whether that’s a finished song, a finished album or prep for a show.
  • We email/text/call in advance what we’re going to be doing so everyone has the right equipment and can prepare. Depending on what we’re preparing for (a show or the album) we’ll practice the whole set from start to finish (and edit accordingly) or record and tweak a song over and over to get it right. There is tremendous value in listening as “3rd party” objective listeners and giving feedback to one another or myself to make revisions. It’s a very iterative process. Someone has to be the engineer to keep the process moving forward towards the goal.

What made you start taking yourself seriously?

Shane-I like to get things done and have finished products. I want to have something to show for all the work and time put in. It’s fun to capture the moments in your life as they go by. They reflect the different eras of my life.

Focus Groups

How will Cohere Bandwidth support musicians in this process?

Shane-The best thing about using hourly rehearsal space is taking all the members out of their comfort zones (living rooms) and into a more neutral space so everyone is more focused. There are fewer interruptions from neighbors, friends and family.

You’ve had some experience at an hourly space in Denver. How was that for you?

Shane-Paying for this great hourly space made us even more focused and we got more done than usual. We were able to stay  on task better because we knew how valuable the room was. You get too comfortable when you live with your jam space. Interruptions would happen all the time: neighbors dropping by, looky loos, they don’t realize that this practice isn’t just a hangout, we’re working.

Shane-The most valuable part of adding Cohere Bandwidth to Fort Collins will be having a sense of insulation from outside distraction in order to focus and create. It’s nice when people can’t drop in on you because they think there’s a secret venue that they’re missing out on.

If your band is ready to take it to the next level, sign up on our wait list. You’ll get first dibs at our schedule when we open. Meantime, enjoy this lovely from Sour Boy, Bitter Girl.

Cohere Bandwidth: Kicking It Into Gear

If you’re wondering what all that racket is, well: we’re movin’ and shakin’ over at Cohere Bandwidth. Not so very long ago in the saga of shared rehearsal space, we were getting giddy about structure and infrastructure, and waxing poetic about Magic Mick, of acoustic architecture fame. (Update — digging up the dough to hire Mick has been the smartest money we’ve spent thus far, by far. As in, spend a little, and save a LOT in the long run, that kind of smart.) Since we’re feeling pretty solid about our sound decisions, it’s time to spend some more money, this time to outfit the practice spaces with gear. But what to buy first?

The heart of the band seemed like a good place to start, and to bypass any potential arrhythmia in the process, Angel decided to immediately purchase one of the more critical components of our backline equipment: the drums. To neatly evade any repercussions we might experience from making ill-informed choices, she also immediately enlisted some expertise. She hired this guy:

Shane

Actual drummer! Not to scale.

You might remember Shane from such escapades as “the time we shut him in a portable room to play drums in sub-zero temperatures” or “the time we made him practice in the living room while we listened outside from the curb”. In addition to being a cheerful test subject and one of our favorite actual drummers, Shane also happens to work next door at the drum store and not only knows what he’s talking about, he knows where to get it. Angel went shopping and immediately came home with this sweet kit:

fraggle rock

j/k… she wishes. #notforsale

Making Things Click
As you might recall, one of the primary reasons we started this whole shared rehearsal space project was due to a strong belief that, just like any other businessperson, a musician needs a nice, normal, properly equipped place to work. Angel already knows a thing or two about outfitting a shared workspace, and one of her other strong beliefs is that she, as the owner and community manager, needs to know what’s up with the office equipment. If the going gets tough in Internet land at Cohere, when the com has been cast and the router is pouting, Angel’s the one that endures the tech call required to diagnose the problem. She is the great plugger and unplugger, the one who talks to surly onsite service repairmen, the Restorer of All That Is Right With the World.

Tech Support

Actual tech support call! Exasperation not to scale.

So why, she thought, should owning a shared rehearsal space be any different? Without further ado, Angel purchased a non-Fraggle drum kit from Shane … along with a series of drum lessons.

User instruction manual.

Adult Education
Armed with a  fierce determination and a high school marching band background (legacy: the possibility of playing “ironic jazz flute” at Musak-enhanced business networking mixers), Angel is practicing. Practicing assembling the kit, and learning the proper grip and foot positioning (it matters). Practicing patience and persistence in pursuit of improved on-the-job performance. And, practicing, because according to Shane, she might get to learn how to play Billie Jean pretty soon.

Angel Lessons

Keeping her fingers on the pulse of practice space.

Shane reports that Angel is a good student; Angel’s report: “Shane is fun, drumming is hard, and OMG there’s so much to haul!”  Her next move is to buy a throne, as is befitting the new queen of all she surveys. Well, it’s mostly so she can stop sitting on a child’s chair with a pillow in her basement practice space. After that: probably headphones and earplugs and cymbals. But eventually? She looks forward to practicing in a proper rehearsal space. Good thing we have a couple of those on the way.

P.S. wanna take drum lessons from Shane? Email him — he’s accepting new students of all ages.

P.P.S. we’re bringing back the local music track sample in our posts. Hey, here’s one:
Chain of Command by Wire Faces

Crunching Numbers: Sound Choices in Practice Space

As we move closer to construction for Cohere Bandwidth, things are getting real. Really real. Like “sit down and talk to the people who build things” real. Which is precisely what Amy and Angel did last week, spending some quality time with pens, paper, calculators, and Brandon (pictured below), who took some time out from Downtown Artery re-construction to talk through some nitty-gritty rehearsal space details. Mostly: about sound.

Cohere Bandwidth Blueprinting

You know, sound, our familiar frenemy in our quest for shared rehearsal space. We already know more than we ever wanted to learn about constructing soundproof spaces, but Brandon took things up a notch. Not all the way to 11, thank heavens, but — let’s just say it got reaaaal scientific. We talked about green glue (our favorite!) and genie clips and isolation joints and Roxul (<<which, incidentally, may be our new band name) and staggered subfloors and agggghhhhhhhh. But we truly needed this level of detail so we could then ask Brandon to come back again with an even MOAR detailed estimate. So we might then identify places where we *could* cut costs — for instance, perhaps the waiting room needs less attention to sound attenuation than the practice spaces themselves — and places where we under no circumstances should we ever, ever attempt frugality. Like making sure the practice spaces are built so you can get to the electrical and HVAC for repairs without busting a decidedly un-soundproof hole in the wall that you just spent thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars to construct. Smart construction. SOUND decisions. You know.

Because what it boils down to is this:

me: “if we get this right, we’re going to be SO HAPPY.”
Angel: “and if we get this wrong, we’re going to CRY.”

So, we’re using a “measure twice, cut once” philosophy (or a “high-five thrice, cry zero times” approach, if you prefer). Why all the pre-caution? Because Community-Building 101: we want to get this right for the people who are going to use the space, so they’ll actually use the space. Because if we screw up the sound, we diminish the happiness of the musicians. And because, for our little two-room project here, we’re currently talking six-figure construction costs and worrying about band budgets. Because the space we’re moving into is for sure going to have neighbors who have to be kept happy, too, and this has become a little bit more delicate now that those neighbors aren’t going to be drummers after all. Alas, maybe that one was a little too good to be true, but we sure felt extra-lucky there for a bit. 🙁

All that said, we are moving forward. Brandon is sharpening the pencil. Amy and Angel are reminding each other what a beautifully synergistic co-existence Cohere Bandwidth and the Downtown Artery will have for many years to come. We’re planning for green glue shooting parties where the community can invest some sweat equity, and we’re becoming appropriately enraptured by bass traps.

Only moment later, Angel performed a "clap test" -- which just wasn't the same without Ian.

Only moment later, Angel performed a “clap test” — which just wasn’t the same without Ian.

Most importantly, we’re taking our lessons in patience to heart and not being too hasty to make decisions right now that could have disastrous effects in the years to come. Because as anxious as we are to start, we are 500 times more anxious to make sure that what we choose is smart, and that our choices keep the musicians at the forefront, not lost in the background noise.

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