With Chucks on the feet of countless lead singers, Converse's roots in rock 'n' roll go almost as far back as the genre itself, a tradition the brand is keeping alive with this week's opening of Rubber Tracks, a world-class recording studio open to musicians of all genres at no cost.
The community-driven space, located in one of Williamsburg, Brooklyn's last remaining industrial pockets, is purely democratic, organized to enable serious musicians who might otherwise struggle with the high price of studio time. As Chief Marketing Officer Geoff Cottrill explained on our visit, this is an altruistic endeavor and all musicians recording at Rubber Tracks will retain all rights to their tunes. Converse is simply the facilitator in helping them achieve their best possible sound.
Much like Levi's recent creative workshops, anyone can use the space if there is an available time slot. How it differs is its long-term approach, accepting applicants in cycles to spend a thorough amount of time in the studio and encouraging bands to reapply if not accepted the first time around. The North Andover, MA-based shoemaker considers this an investment in the future of music and a way to give back.
Exteriors feature murals by Mr. Ewokone and Shepard Fairey (whose works were both already there), with artist Jeremyville's "Crystal Mountain, Williamsburg" gracing the inside stage area—which Converse says will not become a venue but will serve mostly as another area for bands to practice or experiment. Equipment supplied by Guitar Center fills the building, a lineup including guitars and amps by Fender, Marshall and Schecter, as well as NYC's only Ocean Way HR2 large-format monitor system.
The rest of the space is wholly focused on recording, even soundproofed to prevent "flat" uncolored sound. Persian rugs and worn floorboards keep a relaxed vibe in the studio, which is kitted out with all the essential gear for shredding and a retro-styled isolation booth.
Helmed by seasoned musician and facility manager Brad Worrell, alongside a team of top-notch engineers, the control room has digital and analog mixing consoles with enough buttons to rival a spaceship. There's a space for the synth set too. Rubber Tracks also has a workroom dedicated to digital editing, offering a complete range of tools for mixing both music and video.
While ready for a jam session in terms of audio equipment and decor, this summer they're kicking things off by hosting a week-long Grammy Camp for students, who will learn the creative process of making a track from start to finish. Rubber Tracks will open as a recording studio tomorrow, 13 July 2011, with five emerging NYC bands christening the space and a slew of musicians to follow.
See more photos in the slideshow. Images by Karen Day.