Archive for Thursday, April 24, 2003

What once was ‘Red House’ now is painted ‘Black’

Recording studio under new ownership; undergoes renovations, changes

April 24, 2003

A Eudora recording studio and regional musical landmark has undergone colorful changes ranging from the paint on the wall to its name.

In December, chief engineer Ed Rose and the five members of the band The Get Up Kids took over ownership of Red House, changing the name to Blacklodge, adding equipment and revamping the studio's apartment for visiting bands.

Co-owner Rob Pope said new ownership meant much better recording gear, and Rose said they hoped to expand a second studio into the other half of the historic downtown building Eudorans can remember being both a grocery store and funeral home but which is probably best remembered as Charles Pilla's department store. Needing a second studio is a testament to the amount of business the studio does -- Rose said in January he had two or three days off.

"It's pretty much going on six days a week," he said.

With new ownership, Ryan Pope said he and the other owners hoped to make the studio more functional and use as much space as possible, which will mean finding uses for a few nooks and crannies in the old department store.

Ryan Pope said while The Get Up Kids -- which also includes Matthew Pryor and Jim Suptic -- were working with Rose they'd talked about getting into the business of recording music, not just making it, and Red House came up for sale. Moreover, Rob Pope said, it was much easier to get into an established studio than to try to build one from the ground up. Getting into the recording end of music seemed a natural transition because as an album-prolific band they'd been exposed to it, which Rob Pope said gave them another advantage.

"We've seen how not to do it," he said.

Having worked with different people during the Red House days, Rose said he gained experience from the best and the worst and learned to tell the difference.

"I've seen how a studio should operate and how it should not operate," he said.

A recording studio ended up in Eudora in the first place because of affordable real estate, but the owners said having a studio in a small town had benefits aside from the friendly people.

"Trying to record in New York, L.A. and Chicago, there's a big difference," Ryan Pope said. "(In Eudora) the distractions are less."

Rose joked, "The only way you can get into trouble in Eudora is spending too much time at Cutter's."

Moreover, they said Blacklodge, with its exposed brick walls, open rafters and what they concede is at times a "creepy" basement, was no modern Hollywood-type studio.

"The building has character," Ryan Pope said.

Perhaps unlike other studios, the owners said Blacklodge and its predecessor, Red House, relied on word of mouth rather than flashy advertising. Yet Rose estimated 90 percent of the bands the studio attracted were from out-of-state. Because of the atmosphere and lack of distraction, Rose said, the out-of-area artists had no problem coming to a small Kansas town to record. If they sought distractions they are less than an hour's drive away from Lawrence and the Kansas City area.

What bands do need, however, is an affordable and comfortable place to stay because, Rose estimated, the average recording stay was anywhere from 10 days to two weeks.

"They get to know Eudora and Lawrence well all that time," he said.

That's where an upstairs apartment comes in handy. Complete with a washer and dryer, patio, kitchen and computer, Rose said the apartment gave bands a comfortable place close to the studio where they'd spend lots of time. Remodeled by the new owners with some help from a former tenant, the apartment has exposed brick and stone walls, large planked wood floors, white woodwork appointments, modern furniture and brightly-colored walls.

Rose said the rooms' colors, although seemingly well-coordinated and edgy, were quite by accident. He said they discovered improperly mixed paint ran only about $5 a gallon, but with the caveat the color would be a surprise. He said their style guide was "how to do it as cheaply as possible." More photos can be found on the studio's Web site, www.blacklodgerecording.com.

Although the rest of the studio went under extensive renovation when Red House first moved in, the apartment didn't get the same treatment. According to the Web site, the apartment now looks more Architectural Digest and less "Fight Club."

"It looked like the Manson family lived there," Rob Pope joked.

Although the apartment is pretty much put together, the owners have plenty to keep them busy with dreams of adding a second studio, master studio, office and filling in the other nooks and crannies.

"It will never be finished," Rose said. "It will just keep getting better and better."

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