Upcoming Doc highlights legendary Fort Collins studio

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Filmmaker Aaron Pendergast always thought Fort Collins was a pretty boring city while growing up there, so he was really surprised to find that it housed a legendary punk-rock recording studio: The Blasting Room is only six kilometers from his parents. to house.

“I had no idea it was there, and all the Colorado people I talk to still don’t know it’s there,” he says. “It’s a warehouse. You don’t even know when you get there that you are there. They don’t advertise. They never had to.

Pendergast discovered the Blasting Room – which includes three recording studios, a mastering suite, and an editing suite – when he started listening to punk bands in high school. Later, as a filmmaker, he began to think about his hometown and the potential stories he could tell about it. City of sound, a film about the studio in California where bands like Fleetwood Mac and Nirvana recorded their biggest albums, was a catalyst for his current project.

“I was home one night watching City of sound, and it just clicked, “Pendergast recalls.” We have a really cool thing like that, but a more punk-rock version, in the town where I grew up. If I want to make my own feature film, that’s a great place to start.

He set out to make a documentary about the studio, teaming up with Fort Collins-based cinematographer and producer Kevin Kirchner, who has filmed hours of footage with the bands and studio staff over the past few years. . The two are currently seeking financial support through a Kickstarter campaign that will launch on October 29. In the meantime, they’ve made quite a bit of progress on the film, although it has been somewhat choked by the pandemic – but the Kickstarter should help them strike until completion.

“The campaign goal is $ 40,000,” Pendergast says. “The amount actually usable is a little lower. I would say we’re about 70% of the way through the production aspects of the film. There are a few key interviews that we would really like to pick up to round out the whole thing. ”

They hope to have the film, simply titled The blasting room, done by next year, and show it at film festivals.

The Blasting Room was founded in 1994 by members of the punk group ALL – along with three members of Descendents – with the money they received as an advance for recording an album. The indescribable studio has been used by dozens of bands, including NOFX, Lagwagon, The Distillers, Descendents, Frenzal Rhomb, Rise Against, Alkaline Trio, The Ataris and Hot Water Music. Currently, Bill Stevenson (Descendents, Black Flag, All) and Jason Livermore own the studio.

While the Blasting Room hosts punk groups, artists of various genres record there. “They do a lot of different things, but they do a lot with local artists,” Pendergast says. “It’s not exclusively a punk rock studio, but that’s what they’re known for.”

Colorado bands and artists who have recorded and mastered their music in the studio include Reno Divorce, Gregory Alan Isakov, Jacy James Anderson, ENZI and VYNYL.

Production on the film began in 2019, but it took a while for Blasting Room co-owner Stevenson to accept the project, Pendergast says. The filmmakers had to agree not to focus on him, and Kirshner spent a lot of time whispering in his ear.

“Bill doesn’t like celebrating himself or celebrating the things he’s done,” Pendergast explains. “That sort of thing is not something that interests him generally.” But with the studio marking its 25th anniversary in 2019, “it seemed like the perfect storm of events to make it happen.”

He and Kirchner have interviewed 27 people and groups so far, including Fat Mike of NOFX, Joey Cape of Lagwagon, Hot Water Music, Useless ID, Rise Against and more. “We would also like people less connected to talk about its reach and impact on the scene… someone without that connection but still an authoritative voice,” notes Pendergast.

Interviewees tend to talk about the family atmosphere at the studio, noting that the staff really care about the bands and aren’t just there to record music and raise money. Pendergast recalls an anecdote from a former intern who said Stevenson had already spent 45 minutes tuning a snare drum for a local band coming to record. “There’s no reason Bill should have done this,” he said. “He just wanted to help and teach. I don’t know if you see this level of care taken by a lot of places.

During manufacturing The blasting roomPendergast, too, was impressed with the studio staff and that a band can get a recording done right there without having to pay an arm and a leg for service. There aren’t many punk bands that haven’t recorded music or mixed and mastered it in the studio, he adds.

“They are so prolific,” he concludes. “They don’t really care what they do, but they are one of the most important punk rock studios of all time.”

The blasting room The Kickstarter campaign will launch on Friday, October 29. Donors may receive merchandise, including a vinyl compilation of tracks recorded in the Blasting Room with an unreleased song from Descendents. For more details, visit kickstarter.com. An official trailer is available on blastingroomfilm.com.


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