Or at least how I remember it.
- By Kent Heckman
It was the late seventies. My wife, Lois and I had a rock band and wanted to record some of our original material. We booked time at a local studio. It sucked. I said, "I can do this better." So set out to do it myself, starting with a Tascam 80-8 8 track reel to reel. I quickly realized that if I wanted to get better sounds, I needed more gear, lots more. That's when my addiction started. An addiction that has no known cure. To pay for this addiction, I opened up the studio (in our rented farmhouse) to the public. After years of reading, experimenting and upgrading, the studio was starting to sound good. It started to attract better musicians. I realized that great musicians sound better than mediocre ones! I had to keep the good ones coming. But how? Build a studio from the ground up. That's it!!!
Ah yes, financing:
We were young, but not stupid; we realized we would need money for this. Who would loan money to two working musicians with a small business in a rented house? Not the first nine banks. "A recording studio? You deal with musicians? You don't have contracts with them?" the bankers scoffed. Being musicians, we were used to rejection and went to the tenth bank. This time instead of asking for money for a business, we asked for money to build a house and tried to convince the banker that the studio was just a big garage. He bought it and it was time to build.
It was the 80's and in the Poconos we barely needed a building permit. The loan was based on a floor plan I drew on MacDraft. We had no architect, no elevation drawings, and I never built anything bigger than a speaker cabinet before. But we were used to improvising.
We broke ground in August 1987 with a target date to open in February. We had great builders, but building a studio is different than building a house. They asked questions like: Why do you want to fill the concrete block with sand? You want to put how many layers of sheetrock on? Don't you have any right angles? We persevered, and the new studio opened on February 25 th , 1988 for a weeklong session with Shawnee Press. It wasn't finished but it was usable.
Build it and they will come:
The rest of the year was spent finishing the studio and, oh yes, we were building our house too, and gigging five nights a week. We were young!
OK, I have a construction problem:
By 1993, it was time for the first addition to the studio. Twenty feet of concrete block wall was removed and a room for the piano, a small iso room and a storage room were created. 1995 brought a control room redo. In 1996 we added cedar to the ceiling of the playing room and improved the lighting.
In November of 2000, after we just got done putting an addition on, our house burned down. We lived in a rented trailer, parked across from the studio. There was plenty of time to think about designing our new house and another addition to the studio! In the spring of 2001, before we even started rebuilding our house (I have the best wife in the world), we remodeled the lounge, added two new bathrooms, redid the HVAC and added much needed support space.
In 2002, the control room got a make over.
The red rock wall, new bass traps, new doors on the iso rooms, new furniture and cork floors in the sound lock and machine room were installed in 2005. In 2012 - the Avid Icon.
There have been a lot of changes in the past years. But sometimes it's the things that don't change that are the most important. We are very happy to say that we have maintained business relationships with many clients for years, with many turning into lasting friendships.
Kent Heckman is the owner, and is available as your primary or secondary engineer. Easy going and fun to work with, Kent is the consummate professional. His experience is vast. A former rock guitar player, he's not afraid of written music, either!
Kent has taught recording at Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA and guest lectures at East Stroudsburg University
When he's not in the studio, you can usually find him in the kitchen or in his ridiculously large organic garden.