Finding a solid place to rehearse with your band can be a long and often disappointing process. Lock-out rooms are few and far between in Fort Collins and the low vacancy rate in rentals means that your neighbors are always close by to hear what you’re up to and they’re never shy about calling the cops.
“The police came once to warn me. The second time I was issued an “unreasonable noise” violation. That ticket carries a $1000 fine. I went to court and had it reduced to $250 with the understanding that if the police were called again I would be fined the remaining $750. If I am contacted twice in the next 2 years I will be labeled a “public nuisance”.” -Craig Powell, Drummer, Unreasonable Noise
Craig did a smart thing and joined Cohere Bandwidth before he could get that second violation. Hopefully, you never have to be in that situation so we’ve put together this handy checklist so that as you visit the many shared rehearsal spaces in Fort Collins, you can make an educated choice that will benefit your band.
Is this a legit practice space?
Aka, not a turkey coop or storage locker or abandoned warehouse? Is it branded as a rehearsal space? Are there any other business operations in the space that give you pause to wonder what the hell is up? Massage parlors, spare warehouse spaces or barns are always a risky proposition. If the space isn’t rehearsal space 90% of the time, this should give you pause. The owners probably aren’t properly insured, equipped or even helpful when you keep tripping the breaker every 15 minutes.
Is the space in a neutral zone?
By neutral zone, we mean that it doesn’t belong to anyone in your band. Your buddy’s basement or your girlfriend’s garage do not count as neutral territory. Why does this matter? Because when rehearsal happens at a band member’s house, that band member is doing all the heavy lifting. They most likely store a lot of your stuff. Your stuff probably isn’t insured when it’s in your friend’s basement. They bear the burden and police record for any noise complaints that come in and rehearsal ALWAYS has to work with their schedule, their partner’s schedule and the neighborhood.
If your band likes to hang out before or after rehearsal, is the neighborhood conducive to grabbing a beer or slice?
One of the potential drawbacks of using a shared rehearsal space is that you are paying for the time so your band will feel less like having a beer for the first hour and you could miss out on that valuable bonding and creative time. Using a rehearsal space that is super close to your favorite haunt ensures that you band can still bond and you won’t lose any budgeted rehearsal time.
Does the space appear to be professionally sound proofed?
We’ve heard stories about rehearsal spaces being lined with used mattresses from a nursing home (cringe-worthy) to painted egg crates and blankets tacked up on walls. While there are certainly many online resources for DIY sound proofing, you’ve got better things to do with your time than combing message boards for whether MLV actually works.
When you tour the space, ASK about how it is sound proofed. Any rehearsal space owner or manager should be super knowledgable about how their space it built, why it matters and how you won’t have to worry about pissing off neighbors while you rock.
Is the space and gear in good repair/clean?
You don’t need to be able to eat off the floor but a practice space with clean bathrooms, solid equipment and nice lighting will save you time. If you think you might have to spend time scraping mouse droppings off the snare drum before rehearsal, run.
“Hands down, most pleasant practice experience anywhere! The backline is tremendous (Fender Hot Rod Deville 410? Gimme that!), the rooms are clean but not fussy, booking time is easy, and the vibe clears all the brush to get back to what we love most about playing music. 10’s across the board.” -William Knudsen, Singer/Songwriter
What vibe do you get from the staff?
We encourage you to visit and try out all the different rehearsal options that are in Fort Collins. You’ll likely find that your band just “clicks” with a particular community. Don’t force it and don’t feel bad if you want to play the field so to speak before landing on your favorite. Staff should be helpful, friendly and bonus points if they are in a band! No one can help your band better than another musician who is really familiar with shared practice spaces.
Are the rules of use clearly outlined?
Do you know what’s expected/allowed in the space? There’s no worse feeling than accidentally breaking a piece of gear and worrying about what horrifying lawsuit will come down on you. Ask about any problems the community has had with gear, damage or people in the past. How was it handled? We’ll tell you all about how we handled a missing microphone a few months ago.
Are there any reviews of the space online?
Do they sound legit and not generated by robots? The Fort Collins music community is fairly well-known. Were any of the reviews written by your friends or bands you admire?
“Great place and space to rehearse! Sound quality is awesome. Setup is quick and easy. Reasonable prices! And a safe place to practice!” Stacy Sevelin, Senorita Sometimes
Does the space offer any value-adds? Is any gear included?
It’s important to think hard about your band’s goals. Is your band still getting established and needs a lot of services like photography, stickers, graphic design or a demo recording? If so, look for spaces that help you connect to resources that you need most. If your band is well-established or on tour, a space that just provides space without any fluff may be perfect for you.
Deciding to practice in a shared space is a big decision and can be a big change from what a band is used to especially if you’ve been in a lock-out space or at home. We really encourage you to give shared rehearsal space a try. You’ll probably find that your rehearsals CAN be super productive even when you’re not at home. Schedule a tour and check us out!