Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Bus

We didn't know it at the time, but our days at the Bunker were soon to come to an end. Before Shangri La however, we were spending much time and effort making the bunker a comfortable recording room. One day, a surfing buddy of Beej's told him that he knew of a bus that was parked in a field in Malibu that supposedly was equipped with a pile of analog recording equipment. Jim went with Beej to look at it and sure enough, in the middle of a vacant field, there she stood. A 1950 GMC bus with about two hundred feet of extension cord connecting it to an outlet in a nearby plant nursery. The inside was paved in beer cans and apparently some surf band had been jamming. When Jim pulled up the sheets covering some equipment, he discovered an MCI 500 mixing console and a Studer A80 24 track tape machine! There was also a Studer 2 track. the interior had been built as an acoustic environment and the bus was divided into two rooms with a double glass door separating the small control room from the rear section which was big enough for a full drumset. It was amazing.

Needless to say, Beej acquired the bus and as it hadn't been registered in years, we had it flat-bedded to the bunker. I'll never forget following that big bastard as the truck driver took it through the Malibu canyon tunnels. It was so high on the flatbed that he had to take it right up the middle with the air horn blasting.When we got it to the Bunker, we parked it in the alley and ran a snake in to the studio. Voila! Instant control room. It was great man. A great sounding room and now, a separate control room with great gear. We recorded a version of "Goggles On" in the bus soon after.

Also soon after, Beej walked in as Jim was putting the very last screws into a speaker soffit and said, "How do you guys feel about moving to Malibu?" Jim and I looked at each other, then at the board we were screwing down, then back to Beej. "Uh, this is the last screw man, and this place is finished." Jim said. Well, it seemed that beej had finally had it with the drive and had been looking at the old Shangri La studio which was way out on the far side of Malibu. Fuck. The Bunker was so cool, we finally had a great recording rig. Man we were about to get some great work done.

Shangri la was a pipedream. Apparently, the guy who owned the place was about to level the building, build a new mansion and then sell out. The place was far from being a viable place to make music. The control room needed to be completely rebuilt. Someone had walked with the glass separating it from the studio. It was funky, man. Not cool funky, but "oh christ, where do we throw this shit" funky. It looked like a six month job before we ever rolled tape. And that was a hard pill to swallow, being as close to wetness as we were in the Bunker.

But...we were moving to Malibu. That was that. It took about two months to dismantle all the work we had done at the Bunker. Then we started the daily trips from the valley out to Shangri La. I'd meet Jim at the Bunker at six am, we'd beat the traffic, grab a McMuffin and spend the day either tearing shit down or building shit up. We took out whole walls in some places. I dragged every bit of carpet down the hill to the trash...and anyone who knows anything about the history of Shangri La can attest to how funky that carpet had to be. The yard had to be leveled and concrete pads poured for the bus to have a stable home. And finally we rented a huge moving truck, loaded up our shit, and hit the highway

It sounds so simple in hind-sight, but it was a huge undertaking. And Jim and I did it pretty much on our own. My back aches just thinking about it, But here we were, in Malibu, at Shangri La.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hey man, i was interested in doing some recording at shangri la but couldint find info anywhere online. let me know how i could go about setting that up. thanks,
Mike Brown