The Secret to Finding a Rehearsal Space

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.
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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.

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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.

Conclusion
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!

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Hey Neighbor! Meet: Chieftain

Not exactly sure if they qualify as “neighbors” so much as “roommates” in our shared practice space — but we love them, even if they do use all the shampoo to maintain their sweet locks. 

Hey Neighbor! Meet: Chieftain

Chieftain band pic

Courtesy: Chieftain

 

How long have you been a band, and what made you decide to seek out shared rehearsal space for band practice? What is your favorite part about rehearsing at Bandwidth?

We started this band in 2012 after a short break from our previous projects.  We practiced out at the turkey coops all the way until early summer of 2015 when we were asked to move.  That’s when Angel and my old/current Bill the Welder drummer Shane, offered us their space when it opened.  We spent a month in a warehouse that Mitch was able to provide until Cohere Bandwidth opened and we commenced the rocking at their sweet space.

CohereBandwidth_05

Courtesy: Craig Okraska

What do you do for work … and play?

Derek is an Environmental Compliance Technician for work and enjoys fishing, riffing and fun.  Kris sells guitars at Guitar Center Fort Collins and is a freelance illustrator/graphic designer.  He enjoys hanging out with his rad wife, drawing, painting, playing bass, watching live music, playing video games, camping and hanging out with these jerks.  Brian is a landscape foreman. His favorite thing to do is watch his favorite bands play with all his buddies.  Mitch brews beer at New Belgium.

What makes your band unique?

Chieftain is a culmination of all our influences and previous projects (Mashadar, Fear the Vacuum, Bill the Welder, Pterrordaktyl, BeastLeg).  We are unique because we blend 70s rock n roll, stoner metal and sludge that is so common these days with a heavier thrash metal, punk edge that brings a lot of fun dynamics and newer takes on some of the standard or classic type riffs.

Who are the members of your band?

Derek Hall – Guitars & Vocals

Kris Hodgell – Bass

Brian Leavitt – Drums

Mitch McGuire – Guitar

chieftain

Courtesy: Chieftain

 

How did you meet?

Kris met Derek at Guitar Center Ft Collins in 2007.  They started hanging out outside of work where Derek introduced Kris to Brian.  Brian was the drummer in Brian and Derek’s band Mashadar.  Kris was in Fear the Vacuum at that point and those two bands started playing shows together.  Both of those bands eventually ran their coarse and fell apart.  Shortly after Derek and Kris started a speed punk project called Pterrordaktyl, which lasted about two years.  After that project fell apart Brian, Derek and Kris started jamming and working toward what would become Chieftain.  Mitch says he replied to a flier that was in the mens restroom at Surfside that said “looking for long haired gentleman to get down with”.  When in fact, he has been a friend of ours for some time who we asked to join the ranks, thus Chieftain was born.

Are there any other local bands that you find inspiring?

There are many bands past and present: Bronze, Men of Letters, Descendants, Wretch Like Me, Deadspeak, Fear the Vacuum, Bill the Welder, Wire Faces, Crow, The Echo Chamber, John Hodge, Native Daughters.  We’re forgetting lots of bands, no doubt.

Current soundtrack to a day in your life?

Thin Lizzy, ZZ Top, Uncle Acid, Misfits, The Sword, Intronaut, Between the Buried and Me, Graveyard, Mastodon, Opeth, Joe Bonamassa, Witchcraft, Revocation, A Wilhelm Scream, Propagandhi and Black Sabbath all day every day.

Any goals you’re working toward as a band?

We are planning on recording a demo with about 3 tracks very soon.  After that, we would like to record a full length album but we need to save up a bit more for that one.  We want that full length to be the best sounding/feeling record any of us has ever made.  We are always writing new material and are working to finish up our newest song. Several more riffs await their time to shine!  We have new art and merch on the way too.

kris and mitch

Courtesy: Chieftain

 

What’s the most important thing you accomplish at band practice?

Ever since we started this band, before it even had a name, we made sure we would keep one thing in mind at all times: have fun and write badass tunes.  It sounds a little cheesy, I know, but we have all been in other serious bands that have had their shares of band issues or drama or whatever you want to call it.  Every practice is a great time.  We may dial in our sets for gigs one practice, where another practice focuses almost entirely on a new song.  We are always striving for progress towards writing new songs and playing around with different styles while capturing all of our individual sounds and techniques. Yes there are frustrations and things of that nature, but it’s always for the good of the song and the band. It’s always fun.

Where can people find you/your music?

We’ll post updates about our recordings on our Facebook page .  Our next show will be at the new Surfside 7 location on November 12th.

Hey Neighbor! Meet: Wake Breakers

Not exactly sure if they qualify as “neighbors” so much as “roommates” — since they have become our first Cohere Bandwidth member band! We plan to see Wake Breakers quite a bit in our shared rehearsal space in downtown Fort Collins. Possibly in their bathrobes, or in whatever they feel comfortable wearing around the house. Like pirate-punk eye patches.

Hey Neighbor! Meet: Wake Breakers

Landlocked - Hey Neighbor!

Wake Breakers taking a moment to pose at our private opening party. Photo: Chromatic || Craig Okraska

How long have you been together as a band?
Since February 2015.

What made you decide to seek out shared rehearsal space?
Because the conditions were bad in our past space: no air conditioning, small, not enough equipment.

Editor's Note: Here's a "before" picture of Landlocked at practice. Hot. Cramped. Decidedly not five-star.

Here’s a “before” picture of Wake Breakers at practice. Hot. Cramped. Sad pirates. Photo credit: Mom

What do you do for work … and play?
Group hacky sack. Video games. Abe teaches uke. Trip and Parker have dreams. (<<Editor’s Note: this is what we *think* this read; the interview sheet was completed with a certain amount of youthful zest. We hope Trip and Parker have dreams. Everybody has a dream.)

Who are the members of your band?
Trip: Vocals and guitar
Parker: Lead guitar
Abe: Bass
Sam: Drums

Band Manager: Michael Goldstrom

How did you meet?
School.

What makes your band unique?
Pirate Punk
Young — and with talent and publicity
Editor: they’re not kidding about the publicity — see below for a photo of  Wake Breakers at band practice celebrating their front page Coloradoan feature story:

Landlocked - Coloradoan

And here’s a story via the Rocky Mountain Collegian complete with a video interview:

Any goals you’re working toward as a band?
More publicity
More gigs and $

Current soundtrack to a day in your life?
FIDLAR
Jack White
The Growlers

Are there any other local bands you find inspiring?
The Burroughs
Wire Faces

What’s the most important thing you accomplish at band practice?
Improving music and band coherence

Where can people find your music?

Upcoming Shows: playing Northern Colorado Pride
(Pride OUTside – August 1)

Connect Online:

Rehearsing: at Cohere Bandwidth!

Yes! We are OPEN.

317 Jefferson St. Fort Collins

So happy we’re glowing.

All in all, it was a good weekend for celebrations. Two and a half years after two of our best-loved local bands had all their gear stolen from their deplorable turkey-coop-turned-practice-space, Cohere Bandwidth opened its doors. For real! On Friday, we took some time to celebrate and had our friends, family and amazingly patient community supporters come take a look. It looked like this:

allthefeels

When the first band struck up a tune, Angel burst into tears. Dani burst into cheers. Adrian thinks we’re weird. He’s not wrong.

In addition to all the emoting, we got a chance to spend time with our families (both immediate and extended). Angel’s Mom made Tang and Chex Mix, in keeping with our neighborly Mister Rogers’ gestalt. Julie’s sister Jeanie tapped the Pateros Creek Brewing keg. Shane and Adrian celebrated like drummers do, by frantically hauling in a bunch of gear and setting it up, then gazing upon it adoringly.

kitkisses

This is the teaching kit that lives in our Side B rehearsal room. Shane can’t wait to bring his students in.

Several of the downtown Fort Collins neighborhood vendors who offer discounts to Cohere Bandwidth members stopped in to wish us well. Brandon from Music Go Round was on hand with guitars galore for the bands to try out; the store is also providing something we call the “Oh Sh*t” box — filled with items musicians might find they need should things at practice not go as planned. Also, two of our kick-ass photographer friends, Kirsten Cohen and Craig Okraska came all the way from Boulder and Laramie, respectively, to show their support and then have their photo taken inexpertly by us:

photogs

Craig and Kirsten take much better pictures than this one, and are incredibly generous, supportive artists. We’re pretty smitten.

And in an adorable demonstration of cross-pollination, Cohere Community members pitched in to help with the opening party, too. Amanda lent us the perfect Tang pitcher, Janelle helped us get set up for the event, Kevin came by to see the real-life use case behind all the website programming he’s done for us, and Suzi made stoplight-themed Rice Krispies treats (that hopefully someone took a picture of before we scarfed them all down).

In the midst of all this, our neighbors at the Downtown Artery opened their new cafe and venue right next door to us. It is spectacular. You should go see it. Opening night was beyond our ability to describe adequately; just go subscribe to their YouTube channel so you don’t miss out (Stella Luce and Itchy-O pretty much burned the place down. Metaphorically, of course).

The Very Best Part

The bands! They’re the very best part! Several of our musician friends came by on Friday, including Matt Mahern, YettieChieftan, The Lonelyhearts, and an unprecedented number of drummers, from Mama Lenny & The Remedy to (multiple) Wiredogs. We also got a chance to meet our very first member band, Landlocked, in person. Here’s Angel presenting them with their membership cards, moments before they started playing and she started crying:

landlocked

Wishing Landlocked a warm welcome.

On Saturday, Itchy-O got a chance to check out our Side A “green room”, mostly because a 31-piece marching band needs a place to stash their burkas, antennae and lighted sombreros. Duh. Stella Luce and Super Bummer stopped in, too. And then on Sunday, our very first hourly band came in to practice. They are an emerging band currently without a name, so we’ll let them reveal themselves to you when they’re ready. But here’s a picture of their feet in the simulated lawn in Side A. Yes, it so clean you can roam around barefoot if you want.

greenroom

Gathering their creative forces.

Later, the band was spotted in Old Town getting a post-practice beer … another thing to love in our neighborhood. Life on Linden and Jefferson is pretty awesome right now and we expect it will only get better and better.

We. Are. Open. Best three words I’ve been able to type in this last 900+ days. Please take a peek around the website and schedule some practice time! Feel free to hit us up if you want a code for a free hour to give things a try before you buy, or if you would like to schedule a tour of the space. We would love to see you, local bands, friends and neighbors. We made this with you, for you, and we’re ready for you to come play!

“Often, when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.” – Fred Rogers

Cohere Bandwidth: It’s Official!

Cohere Bandwidth Lease
For some reason, this feels like the Snuffleupagus of blog posts (at least the old-school version, back when Snuffy was imaginary to everyone but Big Bird). But we swear, it’s REAL. It’s news that is so hugeand it’s been such a long time coming that it actually seems somehow anticlimactic now … but still. We’re writing because It’s Official. Cohere Bandwidth has a home! Truly. As evidenced by a SIGNED LEASE for the place where we will construct shared rehearsal space in Old Town Fort Collins. Holy. Cannoli. Amphiboly.

We have shouted this from the social media rooftops already, and have emailed the musicians who have reached out to be on the waiting list, and have told all our initial supporters from our Community Funded campaign. But we figured we’d make it Blog Official, too, just in case this is all news to you, our devoted readers.

Here’s the nitty gritty:

  • Cohere Bandwidth will be located in what was the warehouse portion of the recently closed Colorado Drum & Percussion store at 256 Linden St. (the corner of Linden and Jefferson)
  • our contractor is working on permitting, which is right now taking 4 – 6 weeks
  • we’re aiming for a demolition start date of 10/2
  • construction should begin 2 – 3 weeks later
  • we signed a 10-year lease — we are committed to being in the community for a very long time
  • we’re sharing a building with the Downtown Artery which makes us feel like this … in 2015 you can look forward to a building that houses artists, gallery space, musicians, rehearsal space, a crash pad/hostel for visiting artists and a new venue/cafe for ~100. We also plan to host events and classes to encourage musicians to meet up and talk shop. Squeeee!!
  • the plan is to have two hourly shared rooms with backlined equipment: PA + microphones, drum kit and throne (includes hi-hat and 1 crash), bass amp and guitar amp
  • we’re shopping for some other neat things while we wait for construction to get underway; you can email Angel or Shane if you have equipment advice, requests or curiosities. We want your feedback. And your input. << we can’t stop with the music and sound lingo, now that we’re “in the biz”
  • The moment we open, we anticipate we will be able to serve at least 42 bands. We need your help to help us spread the word to the musicians in our community! 

Pep Squad
So. Nearly two years later, away we go. And by “away”, we mean HOME. We are so very grateful to you for hanging in there with us. Our goal is to get this thing built and regularly occupied before anyone gets frostbitten during band practice.

In the meantime, please join us in enjoying the song we’ve been wanting to post every since we started this project. It’s finally, finally time!

 

 

 

 

Musician Field Report: A Case for Space

(Remember when we went on a field trip to visit Denver rehearsal spaces? Ian paid extra attention, clever musician that he is. We asked him to write this week’s post about his subsequent experience as a happy shared rehearsal space customer, and to fill us in on why a Fort Collins space is as important as ever for bands … and fans).

I have spent the past 10 years actively playing in the Colorado music scene with two different bands, Wire Faces and The Jimi Austin (RIP). Currently we are in our 10th rehearsal space, which daylights as a drum lesson room that sits directly below office space and an apartment. This equates to limited hours, no amplifiers, and no PA system; when we do rehearse, we plug our guitars and mics directly into an interface that allows us to listen via headphones. Although it works, it certainly does not provide one with the necessary experience needed to prepare for a big, loud show.

The rest of the time, we record in our drummer Shane’s bedroom… it’s very intimate, and he has a blanket with cats all over it and Cinderella pillows, which is nice but somewhat incongruent with a band known to play “wild rock”.

musiciansinbed

Each rehearsal space we have had over the years has ultimately resulted in us either being forced out or choosing to leave under some form of duress. We have never been disrespectful tenants, however generally people don’t want loud music next to their living space or place of business. We’ve practiced in living rooms, basements, storage facilities, and gone long periods of time without any place to play at all, which can get weird. Even if I tried, I could not estimate the number of shows we’ve had to play while forgoing a proper rehearsal, or any rehearsal for that matter. Thus creating a possible increase in pre-show anxiety and a much higher potential for missed notes, forgotten lyrics or chords, stick drops, and other unexpected musical blunders.

Subsequently, I have stumbled into seeing the true benefits of a shared space that charges an hourly rate (it only took me 10 years). Although it can be ideal to have a space in which all of your equipment is set up and ready to go the moment you walk in the room, we haven’t been able to find such a place in well over a year – before that we were usually on some sort of wait list or scouring Craigslist for options because whatever we had at the time was insufficient. But I digress. You get the point.

ampcramp

Fortunately, Wire Faces is currently utilizing RocketSpace Rehearsal Studios and Lesson Space, located in Denver. The space has proven to be extremely convenient, and I am not sure what we would have done without the ability to quickly book a few hours of rehearsal time in order to prepare for a big show. Our most recent experiences at RocketSpace saved collective our Wire Ass; without the availability of an hourly room, we would not have been able to rehearse before our trip to SXSW for the Colorado Music Party, or for our recent show for Red Bull Sound Select with The Joy Formidable and The Epilogues last Tuesday. Since we do not currently have access to facilities in Fort Collins that provide us with what is required for a genuine rehearsal, this has been a fantastic option. The downside: it’s not in Fort Collins.

RocketSpace provides a backline (drum kit, bass and guitar amps, a PA, microphones, and cables) and all we have to do is show up, plug in and play. Each room is retrofitted with professional acoustic sound baffling, adequate lighting, and ample electrical outlets and power strips. Did I mention it’s affordable, and they take credit/debit cards? Well it is, and they do. Funk, mariachi, metal, hip-hop, rock, even guitar and voice lessons are some of the diverse sounds emanating from each of the rehearsal rooms. During our last rehearsal at RocketSpace, a nice gentleman gave us his card and asked if we’d be interested in playing a show with his band because he liked what he heard from the hallway. These rooms not only provide a much-needed working space for musicians, but also cater to the inconsistent nature of a musician’s schedule, while fostering both networking and collaboration.

This is why we, via our support of Cohere Bandwidth, are so driven to create a shared rehearsal space in Fort Collins. Although there are already several locations in Denver somewhat consistent with RocketSpace, a counterpart does not exist in Fort Collins. These existing spaces have proven the business model, as well as the necessary demand; RocketSpace is actually in the process of planning an expansion. So although you may be growing weary of hearing what IS NOT (yet) available in Fort Collins, I’d like to remind you what IS possible. We are not giving up until a quality, affordable, secure, shared rehearsal space exists in the Fort Collins area. Our musicians deserve it, and so do their fans.

~Ian Haygood, field tripper, Cohere Bandwidth co-catalyst, Wire Faces guitarist

 

 

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