If former Dead Head and self-proclaimed hippie Mike Burke has learned anything in his 25 years in the music biz, it's this: "Hippie bands can play anywhere. You could be a hippie band and play in your living room at three in the morning and your neighbors won't call the police because it sounds good," Burke postulates, "But if you're a death metal band or a thrash band or a punk band, your neighbors will call the cops within 15 minutes—even if you play at four in the afternoon."
It is with these not so neighbor-friendly bands in mind that Burke has designed Bleeding Eardrum Rehearsal Studio, a noise lover's paradise, complete with $80,000 worth of ear-splitting equipment in three soundproof rooms that Burke says is just what the Albuquerque music scene needs. "When you go to the Launchpad or the Atomic Cantina or any of the local venues and you hear a band play that rehearses here, they're gonna put on a better show," Burke says. "That means that the crowd is gonna be happier, which means that they drink more, which means that the bar makes more money and therefore the band gets paid more. We're just trying to help the local scene, so that if your basements flooded or your parents can't take it anymore, you have a place to play."
Bleeding Eardrum, which opened in July of 2005, has become the preferred practice locale for about 45 local bands, including The Unemploid, House of Dolls, Chronic Obsession, Left of Center and Longest Line, to name a few. For 10 bucks an hour, bands have access to guitar and bass amps, a PA system and a drum set, regardless of which room they find themselves in. And, although bands can't hear each other from room to room, they can (and do) communicate and network with one another, often generating new ideas and even new bands.
Aside from helping Albuquerque's music scene fight against what Burke calls "Mayor Martin Chavez' Nazi Regime," the former Monster Magnet tour mate says his rehearsal studio is a place where he and his small staff work to ensure that their clientele can enjoy themselves. "If there's a band that's here the whole day, we'll make sure that we order them some food or whatever just to make sure they're comfortable," Burke says. "We just want to treat every band member with such a high level of respect that they really like coming in here."
The bands aren't the only ones having a good time in the studio. "I live within walking distance from the studio," Burke explains. "So I can come here, party and get really drunk and then walk home."