On the Scene
Housing the Loud
The Duke City's most deafening seek shelter at this practice space. Luckily, it just got bigger.
By Marisa Demarco
Bleeding Eardrum's Michael Burke may have bitten off more than he can chew.
But in the business of providing rehearsal space to Albuquerque's loudest rock bands, that translates to a potential 10 practice rooms housed in the same building as a 5,000-square-foot warehouse—quite possibly the roomiest all-ages venue in town.
"It's kind of like you go into a buffet and put way more food on your plate than you know you're actually going to eat," Burke says. "That's kind of the situation that we're in with this."
It's around the corner from his older, much smaller space in an office building, open for about a year and a half before the landlord told Bleeding Eardrum it was time to go. "They didn't like the music scene. They didn't like my clients. They didn't like a lot about it." Burke relocated his shop just feet away to the old Portraits by Ladonna building in the Northeast Heights about a month ago. Though business was continual, Saturday, Oct. 1, marked the grand opening of the bigger, better Eardrum.
Between running sound for the bands playing atop a freshly built half pipe skateboard ramp and preparing to grill up a mess of burgers, Burke talked about his plans for the building. Not all of the practice rooms have been built. Sound proofing on the enormous back wall hasn't gone up yet, either.
And, of course, the neighbors had to be alerted. Burke gave all of them his phone number in case they have any problem with the Sunday matinee shows. He knows his business. He should. He's been at it long enough. "This is what I've been doing since I was about 15. I used to rent my parents’ basement." He's opened up practice rooms in New Jersey, Ohio, California and Oregon. When he moved to New Mexico, he started renting out space in his house.
That got shut down. So did the next attempt. This time, however, Burke is confident the landlord can get behind what he's doing, even if it is clamorous. "Mostly we get punk rock, death metal, thrash, the screamer people—stuff you can't play in your house without your neighbors calling the cops." Speaking of bleeding eardrums, Burke's have stopped long ago. “I can still run sound but only because I know where the knobs are supposed to go," he laughs.
Burke also runs a video production company, 90 Acre Productions, which floats Bleeding Eardrum financially to some extent. With a skate ramp and green screen room on the premises, the ultimate goal is to make music videos for local acts. There will never be any nighttime performances, he says, because the neighborhood wouldn't tolerate it. There will be Sunday matinees, however, monthly at first. "We want to keep it open for the all-ages scene because they’re few and far between."
The hope is that the whole project will be finished by the start of 2007--well, as finished as it ever will be. "I've never been into the detail aspect of finishing stuff off; it will always kind of look a little unfinished. I guess it doesn't matter what it looks like as much as what it sounds like."
The new Bleeding Eardrum space is at 9201 Indian School NE near Moon. Practice rooms go for $10 an hour and come with amps and a drum set. Monthly rooms are available for $1 a square foot. Call 298-1917 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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