Legendary Blasting Room studio celebrates 25 years
By Steve Graham
Bill Stevenson and Jason Livermore planned none of this.
In 1994, Stevenson built a studio in Fort Collins with his band All, so that they could record an album with producer Livermore.
They didn’t expect the space to turn into a recording mecca for a long list of musicians, punk, and otherwise. A quarter-century later, Stevenson and Livermore still work at The Blasting Room, which has become a full-time pursuit for a dedicated and expert team of five musicians, producers, and engineers working closely with bands to create the best possible sound.
“Through every project, you kind of become a family with these people,” said producer and engineer Chris Beeble. “The Blasting Room is this ever-growing family.”
The “family” celebrates its 25th anniversary this month with a sold-out showcase at Washington’s on Saturday, November 23.
“We asked a bunch of bands that we feel helped us get to where we are today,” said Jonathan Luginbill, who built two of The Blasting Room’s four recording and production studios.
“We asked a handful of bands thinking that most of them would be on tour and say no, and we would end up with three or four bands, which is just a normal size show,” Luginbill said. “But then nearly every band we asked said ‘of course, we’re in,’ so that’s how we ended up with eight bands, which is almost a festival.”
The anniversary show is a homecoming for Stevenson’s bands, All and the Descendents. It’s also a reunion for the original members of Armchair Martian, which was Jon Snodgrass’ punk band before he formed Drag the River.
Blasting Room engineer Andrew Berlin recalls Armchair Martian being his first project at The Blasting Room.
“They were the first band I watched record here when I came here,” he said. “The very first week was Armchair Martian.”
The anniversary show will also coincide with an open house at the studio, and a special-release coffee pale ale, which the Blasting Room guys made with Odell Brewing Co.
“This celebration thing is as close as we come to tooting our own horn,” Stevenson said.
The team has never advertised or marketed The Blasting Room, but word quickly spread through the punk community that those guys in All had built a studio.
“Before we even had the paint on the walls, we had bands calling us to record them,” Stevenson said. “We started recording them, and it took on a life of its own.… It’s just grown organically kind of brick by brick as it goes on. Now we have four studios and a room full of geniuses.”
“Drums in the A room at the Blasting Room is always worth it,” said Post Paradise cellist Amy Morgan. “It sounds so good.”
Stevenson said the draw today is the reputation of Livermore, Beeble, and Berlin.
“If you come in here for a week and see seven or eight bands, I bet five of them don’t know who I am,” Stevenson said. “It’s kind of an outdated idea that they are coming here for me. They are coming here for these guys.”
Berlin said the Blasting Room staff puts care and effort into every recording.
“We take ownership of the music,” said Berlin. “It’s our own art, as well.”