This week a very sad thing happened. A place that Picture Atlantic has called it’s home for years was scheduled to be crushed into dust and rubble. It wasn’t just our home. It was a sort of collective nest for some really amazing art to happen, and also some truly meaningful memories. Most of the Picture Atlantic music that you have heard in the past three to four years was cultivated and fostered in this place. And, as I mentioned, this place is now gone. Swallowed up by the ever rumbling stomach that is the Silicon Valley.
This place, I’m speaking of, is Red Rock Studios in Mountain View California.
Most of you probably know Red Rock as a coffee shop in Mountain View. This is also true. Red Rock is not simply one place or thing. Red Rock is , in my imagination, really more of an idea and movement more than anything. Red Rock is run by Highway Community church (probably one of the coolest churches in the South Bay in my humble opinion), and was started as a way to blend coffee, culture, art, and community outreach into one delicious cup. The plan worked.
Then Red Rock also became this amazing art factory. That art factory was christened Red Rock Recording. It wasn’t a coffee shop though, it was a studio space nestled in-between what I am most certain was a privately owned Russian Cyborg repair shop, and an Armenian auto-mechanics garage. It’s neighbor was the mighty Google headquarters, and our even more distant, but noisy neighbor, was Shoreline Amphitheater. Yet still, it was in this tiny, lovely, quiet portion of industrial real estate that directly bordered 101.
Red Rock Recording was not always Red Rock Recording though. It was inherited from a wonderful man by the name of Michael Toy, who among other things, is a musician, poet, and lover of art. He had an eloquent dream. And you should definitely read about that dream here, in this beautiful blog post he did about the history of RRR: http://toyblog.typepad.com/lemon/2012/11/a-eulogy-for-a-dream.html
This studio holds many deep connections to the band. Brian was a recording engineer with RRR and it’s many varied forms and phases, for over 5 years. It’s where Picture Atlantic practiced on a weekly basis, either to get ready for shows, or to create songs which we hoped people wouldn’t vomit over. It’s where we recorded Dulce Et Decorum Est by ourselves. It’s where we would laugh, sing, argue, debate, dance, lift gear, find tone, hurt our eardrums, eat, sleep, read, and finally get away from our crazy outside lives. And the craziest part of all, is that we were never charged one single dollar to do any of the aforementioned things. Red Rock never asked us to pay rent to practice there, and never expected us to pay. Talk about community outreach.
It’s also where we met our friends Dogcatcher, who happened to be practicing there too. Getting to know those guys has been one of my personal honors over the last handful of years. Sometimes we would hop in to the studio to play some songs, or bounce a demo, and all, or some, of Dogcatcher would be there hanging out, just getting ready to leave practice, or even in some cases, start jamming. Those were awesome and welcome surprises for me personally.
Sadly RRR had it’s fate sealed. The landlord, for whatever reason, decided that it was time to let the old horse be led out behind the barn, and he sold the building to Intuit. RRR will now be torn down, and made way for whatever building Intuit deems fit to hold residency there. Naturally this meant we had to have one last night to say goodbye.
So we got together on the 1st of November, and hung out! A group of core RRR junkies got together, drank wine, had extended jam sessions, talked about memories, music, and the future. It was probably the most bittersweet party I’ve ever been to. Some of even joked that we realized only now, that we should have had these get togethers at least once a month!
And we didn’t just say goodbye and lock the door behind us. We left our mark. Literally. The last final hour was spent sharpy-ing the hell out of the walls, doors, windows, and anything that was free of strange, beautiful, and hilarious meaning. Someone (who is certainly in no way, not at all, me) even set off a Fire Extinguisher in the parking lot. The video above is some of that beautiful graffiti.
Before I part, there are some people who deserve some serious recognition. Thank you to Ryan Kingsmith, head engineer of RRR, and guitarist of Dogcatcher, for allowing Picture Atlantic to crash the party for over 3 years. Your generosity to us has keep this band alive. Literally. Thank you to Michael Toy for creating such an amazing adventure for all of us to take part in. You were the Dungeon Master, and the quest you created was very real and lasted longer than one afternoon in a basement. For this, we are all eternally grateful. God did good things with your massive heart and passion for music and for other brothers and sisters. Thank you to Red Rock/Highway Community for letting us vagabonds take shelter in your beautiful art space. You blessed a band of dudes way more than you realize. Thank you to Dogcatcher for being our room mates for all this time, and for being the greatest group of dudes, let alone fantastic musicians. And finally thank you to Lil’ Horchata, the creepy lifesized children’s doll we found on tour, who now takes up residency lurking amongst the nooks, crannies, and overall territory of RRR, waiting behind a door, or an attic ladder, to scare the crap out of whomever should gaze upon her in the dark.
Red Rock, we will miss you more than you know
Omnia Bona Ut Finem