From the outside, the building that houses Rudy's Studio looks like all of the other tract homes in this suburb just north of Denver -- which is why I've driven past it three times already. But then, you don't really expect to find one of the city's pre-eminent studios in somebody's basement.
Unless, of course, that somebody is Mark Obermeyer, sole owner and operator of Rudy's. Obermeyer's work behind the sliders has attracted many of the area's finest metal acts -- bands like the now defunct Fomofuiab, Kronow, Tyfoid Mary, Rogue, Rexway, Dead Heaven Cowboys, Autopsy Commission and, most recently, Drug Under. With perhaps the exception of Flatline Audio's Dave Otero (Beatdown, March 3), who holds down the other, more extreme end of the metal spectrum, no one in Mootown knows heavy music better than Obermeyer. Unlike Otero, who is autodidactic when it comes to engineering, Obermeyer spent the better part of eleven years studying music and the ins and outs of recording at the University of Colorado at Denver -- but he says the bulk of his knowledge didn't come from college.
"I learned ten times as much here as I ever did in school," Obermeyer says, stroking a cinnamon-colored dachshund named Rudy, the studio's namesake. "When I went to school for recording, they were teaching how to record jazz. They had no clue when it came to metal, and that's also what made me realize that I had to do this, because I couldn't find anyone out there who was going to be able to make metal. Because metal is breaking all the rules in recording. All the rules in recording class that I was taught -- 'Don't ever EQ anything onto tape, you just leave the pure tone' -- you can't do that. You've got to EQ the hell out of it and get that tone to tape, or you're going to be bumming later. So there were all these rules that I had to learn to break. And the technology keeps evolving."
Since leaving school in 1998, Obermeyer has worked constantly on his studio, upgrading equipment, fine-tuning the space -- which includes two tracking rooms, one for drums and vocals and one for bass and guitars -- and honing his recording skills. Surrounded by a vast array of audio outboard gear, he's a self-professed "analog gearhead" who has nearly a dozen mike pre-amps and a massive, 72-channel automated console. Although Rudy's is 24-bit digital, Obermeyer opts to leave the Pro Tools editing and mastering to his cohort, Justin Preston, who painstakingly labors over each track for at least ten hours. That allows Obermeyer to play producer, focusing on tonality and the recording process itself.
"I'm just constantly trying to upgrade," he says. "It's taken me six, seven years to learn what gear sucked and what worked well. I had to go into a massive amount of debt to do this. I just took every credit card I could and maxed 'em out and paid 'em off and then maxed 'em out again. I'm carrying a lot of debt in order to do this, but it's worth it. It keeps me going and gave me a career."
Like Otero, Obermeyer originally planned to just engineer and produce for his own band. In fact, he built Rudy's specifically to record Corruption, a group he founded with Kevin Martinez (and, coincidentally, an outfit that Otero credits as being his first real client). If not for the persistence of Nick Studen, Corruption's drummer, who shouldered half of the initial investment, the studio might never have become a reality. "We were going to build it in his house, and Nick was like, ŒC'mon, let's do it at your house. I'm sick of having the band over,'" Obermeyer recalls. "It was this far from being at his house."
Rudy's has since evolved from a band vanity project to a full-blown production facility. When Obermeyer parted company with Corruption, he bought out Studen's share in the studio, and over the past several years, Rudy's has earned a distinguished reputation in the metal community and beyond. In 2002, Obermeyer recorded Love.45's third full-length, Larger Than Life, with producer Ben Tanler; those sessions ultimately attracted the attention of 3 Doors Down's Chris Henderson. More recently, Obermeyer has been working with up-and-comer Savage Henry on its debut album. And Mark Sundermeier, who's producing the new Saving Verona disc, has booked time at Rudy's. Both of those projects are anything but metal.
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"Every album, we just strive to do something new," says Obermeyer. "We try to outdo ourselves every time, and I think we have. I want to work with anyone who's successful and passionate about what they do and makes great music. I try to stay open-minded and never concentrate on one individual band, because there's so many more of them out there. If I worry about one of them making my career, I get bogged down. If I don't get them in here, I get depressed and take it personally. I can't afford to look at it that way. I have to just keep the business rolling and keep getting better at what I do and hope the bands come, you know?"
Shouldn't be a problem. At $40 an hour to track and $120 per song to have Preston apply his surgical touch, Rudy's is as competitive as any studio out there. Obermeyer says most bands prefer to block out chunks of time at an average of $6K for a sixty-minute record. From the stuff I've heard coming out of this basement, Rudy's is worth every centavo, and then some.
Upbeats and beatdowns: On Friday, March 11, Judge Roughneck celebrates ten years of ska at Herman's Hideaway with Filthy Children, Five Sided Mind and Soul Rabbit!; Mother Brilliant, Chasing Down Milo, Redline Defiance and More Than Medium try to prove that one bill fits all at the Soiled Dove; and Matson Jones, the Swayback and Atlas jump off at the hi-dive. On Saturday, March 12, Assisted Suicide Assembly, Depth Charge, Source and Deer Creek stop by the Larimer Lounge. Then at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 13, Aubrey Collins, one Mootown's hottest emerging talents, joins the Kory Brunson Band at the Radisson Graystone Castle for the "Comfort Our Troops" benefit. It's a clean (meaning no booze) all-ages show, with the ticket proceeds going to "Comforts of Home," a Northglenn-based non-profit group that sends care packages to troops overseas.
Finally, props to DJ Dragon, the winner of Westword's Ultra DJ contest. Last week at Martini Ranch, Dragon beat out the other three finalists -- runner-up DJ Chris Irvin, Matthew Orloff and DJ Idiom -- to earn a trip to Miami, where he'll represent Denver and spin at the Ultra Music Festival.