UberBeatz puts the sweet back in sound
When the owners of a rehearsal studio stock their vending machine with earplugs and guitar strings alongside energy drinks and candy bars, you know you’re not in Kansas anymore.
Add in soundproof walls, free wi-fi in every rehearsal room, state-of-the-art recording studio, a lounge with 40-inch flat-screen TV and other amenities, and you’ve been transported from the black-and-white spaces of yesterday’s acoustics-challenged warehouses and garages into an Oz-like musicians’ heaven.
The wizards behind this new venture – UberBeatz Studios – are Jesse Smith and Larry Smith. No relation, they are long-time friends who joined their talents to bring their vision to fruition.
UberBeatz, located at 12314 Beverly Park Rd., Lynnwood, just north of the Mukilteo Speedway, offers both hourly and monthly rentals, 25 rooms in all.
Jesse Smith, a drummer on the Seattle scene since 1991, had played in various rehearsal studios over the years, and knows well the challenges of playing on equipment that is long past its “sell by” date and where the sounds bleed through from room to room.
“I said if I ever had the opportunity to build a place, I’d take a lot of what I’ve seen and make the changes I thought were needed,” he said.
Attention to detail, especially sound issues, sets UberBeatz apart.
Jesse wants to hear musicians say, “Holy crap! Somebody cares!”
Partner Larry Smith, an electrical contractor in New Jersey, is no musician, but he knows construction.
So when Larry came west to visit his high school pal a couple of years ago, he and Jesse began talking about what it would take to build a rehearsal studio that musicians would appreciate.
UberBeatz is their answer. Studios are encased in 9-inch-thick walls, sound proofed to acoustical design engineering standards. Sound-proofed doors with keycard entry, as well as motion detectors and cameras throughout, reassure musicians their equipment is safe.
Each room has its own HVAC controls. There are wi-fi and CAT 6 wiring in every room.
Thanks to Larry’s skills, the electrical system can easily handle power-hungry amps; the annoying hiss musicians are used to hearing is gone.
The hourly rooms come with high quality equipment, including drum sets, guitar amps and PA systems.
The recording studio includes a “live” room, and isolation and vocal rooms as well as the control room, with line-of-sight all around to help smooth the recording process. A control panel and computer system utilizes top-of-the-line programs like Pro Tools and Logic Pro.
The founders didn’t cut corners; construction costs climbed into seven figures. And, notwithstanding the Beyoncés or Springsteens of the world, few musicians strike it rich, so there’s the gamble factor.
But Jesse is optimistic. “I know I’ll make money in the long run,” he said.
In fact, all but a handful of monthly rooms are rented; once they’re gone, the two Smiths may add more on a second floor.
Because they are confident there’s a market for quality rehearsal studios, they’re also talking about expansion elsewhere in the U.S., Larry said.
“We’re already thinking Memphis, Houston, also a section in my building (in Wayne, NJ),” he said.
They think their Snohomish County studio will provide a winning template for the kind of facility that musicians want.
And musicians are noticing. Jesse’s own group, Fall From Grace, rehearses at UberBeatz, of course.
Other popular Northwest groups like Jellyneck and History for Sale also practice there.
Eddie Jackson, bassist for the heavy metal band Queensryche – which has sold more than 20 million albums – recently recorded there.
A musician recently told Jesse: “This is the best place I’ve ever played in.”
A recent visit to UberBeatz confirmed that assessment.
Keefe O’Neill, guitarist for alternative/indie rock group History for Sale, said comparing UberBeatz to your typical rehearsal studio is “night and day.”
“Some of the places are like tin cans,” he said.
Drummer Frans Laulainen agreed. “Most studios are like a warehouse, so you get a lot of bleed,” he said.
At UberBeatz, “The sound doesn’t wash,” vocalist Mark Young said. “I can come in, plug in some instrumental tracks and sing at full volume. I can’t do that at home.
“Well, I can, but I’d get in a lot of trouble,” he laughed.
History for Sale has a couple of CDs under its belt (You can get a taste of their music here http://www.myspace.com/historyforsalemusic and here http://www.reverbnation.com/historyforsalemusic). Besides Young, O’Neill and Laulainen, rounding out the group is bassist Doug Warren of Edmonds, WA.
Jellyneck moved to UberBeatz after the Everett studio The Storehouse they were rehearsing in burned down on Christmas Eve 2011.
“We lost everything – 10 years of memories, all our gear,” said guitarist Drew Peterson.
“Luckily, we had insurance. But no way we were going to move back there.”
They found out about UberBeatz and haven’t looked back.
“I’ve been a musician for 30 years,” Peterson said. “If I were to build a studio, it would be this place.
“It’s the coolest, nicest, most well thought-out. They did it right.”
Bassist Frank Sandoval agreed. “After this, every other place is going to be a dump,” he said.
Jellyneck boasts a solid fan base, has four albums on iTunes, and is known for a driving, heavy metal-punk tinged brand of rock and roll.
They shock the uninitiated when they appear on stage in ski masks and tuxedos, a shtick Peterson said “lets you be somebody you’re not.”
Besides Peterson and Sandoval, members include vocalist DJ Magana and drummer Andy Huffman.
(You can sample their music here: http://www.myspace.com/jellyneck)
The alternative rock band Jesse plays with, Fall From Grace, hit the big time when it won Fuse TV’s reality show Bodog Music Battle of the Bands, which included a million-dollar recording contract with Bodog Music. They topped 7,000 other bands in the competition.
(You can hear some of their music here: http://www.myspace.com/fallfromgracemusic)
Jesse also got to scratch off a long-time “Bucket List” item when the band toured nationally last summer, playing with such groups as Eve6, Saving Abel, Redlight King and Aranda.
And while the kinds of groups that populate UberBeatz’s studios seem to tilt toward the driving grunge sounds of Seattle fame, there are plenty of others who could use good rehearsal space.
“It’s ridiculous the amount of talent that’s out there,” Jesse said. “And there are people who step off that ledge and hope they’re gonna fly.”
UberBeatz is open to all of them.
“I just wanted to build a place where people are comfortable,” Jesse said. “You can play in a mariachi band, for all I care.”
Larry, at least, won’t be among them. “I can barely play the radio,” he admitted.
To learn more about UberBeatz, call 425-263-9840 or go to their website at uberbeatz-studios.com.