Every band needs a place to practice. A new local business offers rehearsal spaces.
Among the first and most important decisions every musical group must make is “Where the heck are we going to practice?” A band might have the requisite four or five willing musicians, and each member might have all the equipment they need, and somebody might even have a PA system, but without a rehearsal space, it’s all just dressing, no salad.
Maybe somebody in the band has a basement large enough to accommodate the group—or a garage or a back bedroom—but even if the space is fully soundproofed, there’s still almost always a dull, muffled bass thump that echoes throughout the rest of the house. And after hearing the same songs over and over, maybe peppered with false starts and the occasional long, drunken, unlistenable jam, even the most patient spouses and roommates eventually start requesting caps on frequency and duration of practices.
Nearly every band has at least one social reprobate who raids the refrigerator during practice, or leaves cigarette butts in the flower pots, or writes his name in Sharpie on the appliances, or clogs the toilet with an excess of god knows what.
Sometimes it helps to just get out of the house. If the practice space is not just some room in somebody’s house, it becomes more like an office, a workplace. It improves the focus and work ethic of a band to have a space where nothing happens but practice.
One option, increasingly popular in the last few years, is to rent a storage unit to use as a practice space, but these units generally lack in climate control, so they get too hot during the summer and too cold in the winter. Plus, they don’t usually have restrooms, which means frequent treks to the nearby convenience store or whatever. And if you’re a fully amplified band, your electrical needs might strain the facility.
“A lot of bands end up having to rotate between band members’ houses—this avoids all of that,” says Bill Woody, owner and manager of Musician Rehearsal Center, a new business in industrial Sparks aimed at providing musicians a place to practice.
A place for us
“This is geared toward any band that has a problem practicing when they need to,” says Woody. “Here, they can practice whenever they want.”
The MRC offers 24-7 secured access to 50 carpeted, soundproofed practice rooms. It’s launching this month, but a number of bands have already reserved spaces.
“Our main thing is that it’s in a secure location with A.C.—climate control, whatever you want to call it—for almost the exact same price we were paying for a storage center that was freezing during the winter and roasting during the summer,” says Felix Polanski of the rock band Pinky Polanski, one of the bands to have already reserved a spot. “It was a no-brainer.”
The spaces range from 140 to 300 square feet, and the monthly rent ranges from $275 to $550, with most of the rehearsal rooms going for around $325 or $350.
“Just month to month,” says Woody. “I think leases would scare a lot of musicians away.”
There are bathrooms onsite and tight security—surveillance cameras and key card doors—so bands can leave their gear in their practice spaces without worry. There’s also a secure loading bay for bands on their way to and from gigs. There are four power outlets in each room, and each room has its own power circuit.
Woody says musicians can benefit from working in close proximity to other bands.
“I want to help build a sense of community,” he says.
Besides stylized door numbers painted by local graffiti artist Mier, the MRC will not feature decorations.
“This is all about utility,” says Woody. “It’s a workspace.”
According to Woody, the musicians who have already reserved spaces, or at least expressed some interest, range in ages from the teens to the 50s. There are ambitious young bands trying to make it big, and older musicians who treat their bands like a softball league or bowling night—just a fun get-together with buddies. The genres also run the gamut but will probably lean toward louder styles that can’t usually be practiced without irritating the neighbors.Roots rock
Though Woody comes across as an astute businessman, it becomes clear, after talking with him for a few minutes, that he’s a music lover first and foremost. He played in bands during the ’60s and ’70s around the San Francisco area—first in psychedelic bands and later in country rock groups. He still occasionally plays banjo and pedal steel. In the ’80s he owned music stores before “haphazardly ending up in the kitchen and bath business. …. And I did very well. Then the recession hit.”
Woody chose to view the decline in local construction as an opportunity to get involved once again with music.
“I came back to my roots,” he says. And he came up with a business idea that Northern Nevada lacked.
“He was really cool with us,” says Polanski. “And he’s open to hearing suggestions from the bands. Like I suggested he put up a community bulletin board, and he agreed that it was a good idea.”
In addition to the individual practice rooms, the MRC has a larger area with a separate entrance, a removable stage, and occupancy of about 100. Woody calls the space The Vault and intends to use it for musicians’ clinics, workshops and showcases.
“It’s not a nightclub,” he says. “I’m not looking to compete with the local venues.” Woody often reiterates along this theme. He seems to want to carve out a niche in the music community without stepping on anybody else’s toes.
“All I want to do is rent space,” he says. “I’m not competing with music stores or recording studios.”
The Vault is a space for musicians, a “musical man cave,” as Woody calls it, for workshops or rehearsals for bands trying to hone their stage show.
The name of The Vault ties into Woody’s emphasis on security and the MRC’s logo, which features a combination lock that looks like a volume knob.
And, of course, it goes all the way up to 11.