Remember that epic week in April when Converse Rubber Tracks Live brought The Replacements, Passion Pit, Slayer, and more inside the tiny walls of The Sinclair… for free? Yeah, we don’t know how you could forget.
Now the sneaker company is back with another surprise, and this one blows it out of the water.
Converse Rubber Tracks was started in 2011 with hopes of creating an environment where an emerging artist, someone who lacked the expenses for studio time and travel, could apply and record for free, all rights included. They opened up their Brooklyn studio and, to their surprise, it managed to go even better than expected. Converse began a series of pop up studios around the world, stopping in China, Thailand, Serbia, and the like. In the years to follow, they’ve held 96 sold out shows and had 2.2 million free downloads from their live sessions.
For Boston, things started later. Converse first introduced the Converse Rubber Tracks program to Boston in December 2013, hosting weeklong pop-ups at Q Division Studios on a monthly basis. That same year, they debuted Converse Rubber Tracks Live in Boston, hosting over 20 shows in the city to date, including the epic week-long series.
Fast forward to today, and they’re looking at three permanent studios: Brooklyn, NY; Sao Paulo, Brazil; and now our beloved city. Boston is now the proud parent of a Converse Rubber Tracks Studio at Lovejoy Wharf.
Yesterday, a press conference at the Converse HQ saw some of their team players discuss the new addition. “Honestly there’s a few bands I’d never listen to [that we book], but they’re busting their ass and playing shows and working socials; they earned it,” said Brad Worrell, studio manager of Converse Rubber Tracks’ New York facility who helped with Boston’s brand new studio. “They’ve done recordings in a basement; suddenly they come into this room and they literally step into the audio room and hear themselves for the first time. I’ve had bands even look at each other and go, ‘Oh, this is what we sound like.’ These are baby bands. Sometimes all they need is to hear themselves in the monitor.”
Stephen Konrads of local electronic folk act Eternals talked about the experience with glowing words. “Normally it’s very expensive. My previous experience has been one guy in a room with small equipment and a bong,” he laughed. “Here, there’s people asking if I want coffee and stuff. It’s crazy.”
That’s because the studio itself has descended from the highest tier.
The 1,100 square foot recording studio was designed by Fran Manzella. Not only has he designed studios for the likes of Beck and Broadway casts, but his studios have been modified for a huge range in genres. As such, the Converse Rubber Tracks studio is just as equipped for Boston’s infamous rock bands as it is for rap, jazz, and world music.
A monumental sound board stretches out in front of the window connecting both rooms. It’s designed by Rupert Neve, the 88-year-old electronic engineer behind the world’s leading audio technology. If you doubt it, look up in the top corner. His personal hand signature scrawled there in black ink. The engineering room is topped off by the gear surrounding it, namely the two massive Ocean Way speakers sandwiched its sides, making them the second pair from the high grade company to grace the east coast. The sight of them alone is enough to make an audiophile geek out hardcore.
Look out the studio’s windows and lock eyes with The Town bridge, sans Ben Affleck, TD Garden, or the gently lapping water where fisherman head at the crack of dawn.
So, how exactly does one play here? Book the studio one month in advance and the place is yours for eight hours a day from 11am to 7pm.
Tackle nine songs in a sitting or work out the kinks of a few; it’s up to you. Since the experienced engineers work with you to figure out your goals and inspirations before coming in, they handpick amps, microphones, and gear before you enter the studio to save time. Shut yourself in the isolation booth or play guitar while laying on the giant red carpet to take in the room’s high ceilings. Plus, their sample library has over 10,000 royalty-free original samples, including content from The Roots and Vernon Reed. There’s an endless list of options to play with — all for free.
When finished, bands are given the rough takes, isolation, and stems from the ProTools sessions on a USB. Our advice? Remember to thank their remarkable crew when done. The work they’ve done gets saved in the computer, so when the next Converse Rubber Tracks show headliner comes into town, they will hear all the bands’ music on the computer and decide which band (yours!) will open for them.
“As an independent artist you can feel like you’re in a vacuum,” said Konrads , “but with this, you feel the support.”
Look around the studio. Konrads is right. Converse is more than a sneaker company, and they’re certainly more than an organization that throws free shows. Converse Rubber Tracks is a part of Boston now — and their additions to our city’s culture will only continue to grow.
CONVERSE RUBBER TRACKS STUDIO, 131 BEVERLY ST., BOSTON. 11AM-7PM/FREE. CONVERSE-MUSIC.COM/RUBBERTRACKS.