Two Thousand Eight
How did we get this far, i mean, with all the statistics on businesses not surviving in the first year and then stats on businesses barely breaking even at the end of their first year, how are we still here?
Below you can see what we are talking about:
Image Courtesy of www.ons.gov.uk
Of course, you can imagine and probably guess that a Recession hit. To save you looking it up on Google,
it basically meant that the U.K was in economic decline where trade and industrial activity were reduced. The first Recession experience wasn't that bad to be honest whilst looking around wondering what was everyone worrying about as Venombase was doing just fine? Still, shyly there was a slight panic and the thought of how such a successful first year could actually just turn into no more customers through the doors and even worse-Bankrupty. Above it all though, concentration was still there to still continue(what else could be done) and continue we did by having a 2nd Rehearsal Room.
Now as easy at it might sound running a Travelodge style business by basically signing people into a room and then out, it really wasn't and still isn't today. A reality check was needed for sure as at this point with still no Reception area, no 2nd PA System and no carpets on the floor-Devastation was in the back of the mind but "continue on we must"(say that like a pirate i dare ya). Funds found, shopping done, the PA System was installed in Room 2 with all the other equipment. Borrowing equipment wasn't really an option as there was always going to be one day where people would want it back.
Now Venombase Studios was able to cater for more bands and artists and of course - MORE NOISE!!!! YES! YES! OH YES!!!
Planning Permission was eventually granted from Stoke-on-Trent City Council as well as the sound-proofing being approved, so why "oh no" you ask? It was an "oh no" because one heavy entrance door to enter either Rehearsal Room was not enough for isolating the noise going on on inside the building. No funds left and no budget was available for this type of change as savings had to continue for the next phases.
Something was done that we had been doing throughout the building from Day 1 and that was to use the resources already inside the building(apart from a few precise pieces of wood that we had to get). Doors were made by ourselves, temporary of course, or so we thought. Filling them with the most absorbent material we could dig out. Hanging the doors was extremely tricky but rumour has it that Chris Dulson actually fitted the corridor door all on his own-Hmmmm. Once the doors were in, a visit from the council turned up with a complaint of noise. Chris wiped the sweat off his head very quickly and in disbelief
-Yeah Right! As serious as the council guy was, he was willing to work with us IF there was a problem. Obviously we would never know who complained but we did have a slight inkling of potential people in the buildings in the surrounding area. So off Mr council man went down the stairs and outside whilst we had a drummer in Room 1 ready to bash away as loud as he could and the council man stood at top of the ramp-said nothing, then went across the road and said nothing. Chris called his drummer friend to ask if he was still playing and he said yes and the council man heard him playing through the speaker on Chris' phone. After a good 15-20mins of just standing there listening, council man said-I cant hear anything because of all the other noise going on like pedestrians talking, cars revving, hammering and banging from garages and workshops, the list was endless. The council man was scratching his head and said "it is a subjective process you know, but i cant see an issue at all and i'll report back to the office immediately ". A tremendous RESULT it was and so our planning permission/consent continued and Venombase Studios is probably still one of the only music studios in Stoke-on-Trent to have such a proud and recognised achievement to continue its business for many years to come.
Still More Was Needed
Out of courtesy to nearby buildings and residential buildings, the journey continued to add sound proofing to as many walls, floors and ceilings as we could. With the council situation out of the way, what mattered more was that improvements would stand the test of time and not till another business tenant or residential neighbour moves in and complains. Insulation improvements carried on into Room 2 and its ceiling as well as more sound boards being added to the partition wall as another room was surely to be in the pipeline in the future?
This was actually decided to be first used in the Control Room. Very quickly it was soon realised that bands were starting to bring their equipment down the corridor with them and so a struggle was on to get to meet everyone involved in the project/band. So then staff had to meet artists at the front door, then asked to leave their gear in the area which just had a table and 4 chairs in and then take a longish walk down the corridor to a dodgy counter which was just an arm with a piece of flat wood on top, with a piece of material hanging down looking like it had a proper solid front on. As it was said earlier, all resources were found a use for. As not ideal as it was, it still proved a purpose and acted like a proper shop counter.
Tea and Coffee came next with which was a genius idea by someone as, staff were already making tea and coffee for themselves anyway. As you would at home if you have your own place, you have to get stock. "Stock, oh my days what have we turned in to a Coffee Shop?" Chris says. Stocking up had to be done pretty much daily as more of the elder generation started to appear, not just the younger generation who also liked a good cuppa.
Chris Dulsons's son Logan liking Tea
Recording, what the hell is that?
From 2 Rehearsal Rooms, it just made sense to use the spaces even more and so a Recording service was launched in 2008. Chris's Mum bought him his very first laptop as a gift towards his business as he was definitely going to need some sort of system to operate from but was it purely used for business?
The answer to that is no, not at all actually. He already had a taste of writing songs in his very first band as well as producing music on an old game on the PlayStation games console called Music Creation for The PlayStation which was endorsed by DJ Judge Jules. Filling memory card after memory card with riffs, loops and eventually full songs, the passion for making music was an obsession for Chris and still is.
The laptop just added more to his passion and after a while, it then dawned on Chris that he could actually make professional sounding music now. (In the style of the Movie: Bill and Teds Excellent Adventure)WOH! So Chris had a laptop AND a studio premises(drum roll please.......................)? The Recording Studio service was to begin pretty quickly.
After practicing recording with a very talented vocalist, vocal tutor and piano player, Chris was ready for his first customer but not before deciding on a price. "I didn't know how much to get paid, i'd do every project for free if i could" Chris says. At a top line of just £75 for 1-5 Tracks, that seemed fair and would obviously support the business. Then like a star falling from the sky, a phone call came in from a lady. With a laptop and 1 microphone in hand, Chris seemed a bit embarrassed as there was no big mixing desk and no isolation booth but still the lady wanted Chris to record her. The lady wanted to record around 3 songs and put them onto C.D(Compact Disc). She turned up to her booking very bubbly and cheery and was so keen to get the songs recorded. The Recording Setup was solely set up in Rehearsal Room 1 where the echo was tremendous, there were still no floors remember? Unbeknown to Chris, this was a problem but with a lack of acoustic knowledge and room layout, all's Chris could do was press Record.
The lady started to sing and Chris looked up to the vocal tutor who assisted him on what to do next? She put her finger over her mouth to signal to be quiet. The lady finished the whole song and Chris thought he was done. The vocal tutor said to Chris "Are you going to go again as i feel she could do a little better " Chris had always strived to do a great job even from such a young age and on his first job and so went to press record again. Another take done, what now? "Lets do another one" the vocal tutor said. So confused by the situation Chris was that he was then starting to pickup why he must continue. The lady wasn't a bad vocalist but she was very off key in places and so Chris took over and urged the lady to go again and again. Around 10-15 takes were done in the end and Chris was exhausted mentally but pleased he got paid.
With Chris already having experience in mixing music on his laptop, the job was done pretty quickly so Chris thought. The vocal tutor said "Are you going to add Reverb at all?" Chris's reply "What do you need that for?" After many subjective discussions between them both, the reverb effect was added and Chris thought it sounded awful(for those with sound engineering experience, you know why). Then a process called Mastering had to be done.
The vocal tutor said "It just needs be mastered now for C.D(Compact Disc)." "What is Mastering?" Chris says. "The vocal tutor then said "its a process to finish off your Recording i think." After much deliberation it was then decided that the volume bar on the Master channel on the mixer couldn't turn red and that was it. Songs mixed, mastering done, "oh yeah, who do we send the songs to to put them on C.D(Compact Disc) Chris says. The vocal tutor pointed at the laptop, a very shocked look was given by Chris and he said "that cant make C.D's." Blank discs were brought in the end, songs burned(its a term for files being printed to disc) and then Chris had to deliver the C.D in person to the lady.
C.D(Compact Disc, im writing Compact Disc repeatedly as its Chris's initials aswell, dont take the mick if you see him) delivered, now what? Chris called the lady a few days later to which she squealed down the phone in delight and said what an amazing job he had done. After a short celebration with a few friends, the biggest challenge was still yet to come.
To be continued........