by Luis Interior (Revista Don)If you’re in a band, it’s the place where you’ll pass the majority of your time as a musician. Even if the space is being rented by you, remember: it’s not your house. It is the test room. And Edu and Julita, from the fabulous local Pandora's Vox in Madrid, explain how to rent and maintain a rehearsal room in perfect condition.
Ever since Edu, the lead in Hollywood Sinners, was a teen, his dream was to own a space dedicated to rehearsal rooms. He began to keep concert posters from that time to decorate his own business someday. In his imagination, he already had a precise vision: a central location, good material to rent to the bands, a fair price. But, above all, he dreamt of cultivating an unbeatable environment, thanks to a wonderfully decorated bar where people could unwind and connect.
Five years ago, Edu Sinner opened the local Pandora's Vox with Julita Almodóvar, on the side of the Atocha station in Madrid, where of their dreams became a collective reality. Today, Edu’s collected posters decorate the ceilings and walls of this eclectic space.
Within the walls of Vox, on any given day, you can find the sweet sounds of Spanish artists like Hinds, Anni B Sweet, Fangoria, News Carminha or Auryn. You can also find international bands like Gigolo Aunts, Allah-Las, Bellrays, Dream Syndicate or the Long Ryders trying to get some practice time in before the start of a concert, when they’re touring. But what keeps the spirit alive is the mixture of dozens of local bands, unknown yet, independent, who rent their premises, sharing the space with other bands who simply drop in.
Ed and Julita know exactly what goes on within the walls of their premises and they want to share with us their wisdom so that you don’t end up angering locals – or, worse yet, wanting to kill your own bandmates. The key? Finding a middle ground and maintaining that thin line between a space that’s intimate enough to be your house (because you’ll definitely be spending a majority of your waking hours here) and one that’s not quite yours (read: it’s not a trash can or dumping ground and you can’t get as “comfortable” as you would otherwise).
Here they go:
General adviceBefore you start rehearsing: Equalization, tuning equipment and voices can be complicated and takes time. This is key to maintaining your “sound” so take your time doing this part of the process before you play. You want to make it sound as good as possible. When you get it to sound like you like, take a picture of your ideal set up so that you can arrange everything the exact same way the next time you’re in without wasting too much time.
Punctuality: Yes, it's complicated in a rock band, but don’t stress out too much with members being super-punctual – inevitably, there’s always one. So save your energy and look on the bright side: you can complain about them when they’re not actually present yet.
Punching In & Out: Just as good practice, try and stay a half hour more. This is not only to push your own boundaries but to really keep at it when you’re in the zone and feeling “hot”. At this point, quitting is a mistake. Don’t stop and break the momentum – go, go, go!
Routine and discipline: At the beginning of the year the number of bands that come to rehearse increases, but just like with gym memberships, it gradually declines to a point of no return. Literally. So remember that talent can only take you so far – the rest of your success depends on your constancy and discipline. That’s what separates a good musician from a truly great one.
Pets: Do not bring your pet to rehearsal. Believe it or not, budding musicians will routinely leave us their furry (and scaly) friends at the bar: chameleons, dogs, cats, you name it. Besides our own inconvenience, animals and loud sounds from the amps just don’t mix.
Tips for rental locations by hours:Practice (at home) makes pretty good, if not perfect: To make the session go smoothly and make the best use of your rental time, practice a bit at home. Not only do you sound better, start faster but also save time wasted on trying to get that score or those rolls right.
Organization: Reserve your place in time to have the room you like most.
Good equipment: Using a good computer does not make you more invested than everyone else, but it helps to sound better and not waste time trying to make a sound that sounds worse than the radiator of your car or grandmother's pans. Of course, the way to supplement the process is to have everything ready with the material first.
Tip: Don’t dress down to your birthday suit if you’re rehearsing in a rental. You just never know who can open the door.
Tips for monthly rental locations:Leave Your “Stuff”: Sure, it’s for rent but that doesn’t make it your personal storehouse. So make sure to avoid accumulating a small mountain of cables, lint and empty beer bottles in the corner.
Some Things Are Better Left in Bed: The place is not an arena. Although we’re all guilty of doing this at some point, finding underwear of your companions is not so savory.
A Word of Caution: Leave your hobbies and tics hanging on the door before entering. Yes, my friend, they are going to move your things from places and you will not find them where you kept them
Not a place to party: Do not invite Snow White to leave a cake for your bachelor party in the backstage area (this has really happened and we had Snow White losing clothes in the hallways of the premises). You're not the Rolling Stones yet.
If nothing else, remember this above all: come to enjoy and have fun. Doing what you love is the secret of everything.
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