Fort Collins bands will soon have a new place to practice. Cohere Bandwidth, at 256 Linden in Old Town, comprises 24/7 rent-by-the-hour rehearsal spaces that were inspired by the creativity and camaraderie found in music. They were also inspired by thieves. In December 2012, Shane Zweygardt of the Fort Collins indie-rock trio Wire Faces got a call from bandmate Ian Haygood, who wanted to know if Zweygardt had moved any gear out of their practice space. It turned out that the gear — more than $30,000 worth of musical equipment — had been stolen, and Wire Faces (along with fellow Fort Collins band Fierce Bad Rabbit, with whom it shared the space) didn’t know how to recover.
“Honestly, it was a complete surprise and a complete bummer,” Zweygardt says. “But I didn’t ever think about giving up, because the people involved in the Fort Collins music scene are so amazing. A bunch of other bands in town actually threw a fundraiser concert for us and Fierce Bad Rabbit; it was unreal how helpful and supportive everyone was.”
One of those people was Angel Kwiatkowski, founder of the Fort Collins co-working company Cohere LLC. She asked Zweygardt a simple question: “Why can’t musicians have nice things?” From there, Kwiatkowski, Zweygardt and Julie Sutter (of Cohere LLC and artist-management collective Spokesbuzz) set to work on Cohere Bandwidth in an attempt to give artists a nice place to rehearse.
Kwiatkowski, who’d started Cohere LLC in 2009 after working at retail-management and career-counseling jobs, knew that creating a new business would take a while. For Cohere Bandwidth, it came down to finding the right building.
“We really had to slog our way through some terrible real-estate offerings,” says Kwiatkowski. “We even had a place that banned us from renting, as we would disturb their reptile’s mating cycles. I can’t even make this stuff up.”
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Fortunately, after Cohere Bandwidth landed a feature in the Coloradoan, the Downtown Artery — a Fort Collins art gallery and performance venue — reached out to Kwiatkowski about putting the practice spaces in its Old Town facility.
“We’ve sort of been in each other’s orbits for years,” says Kwiatkowski. “The Downtown Artery was just in the process of getting its new building in Old Town, so we took a tour before it was really ready. Then, almost two years later, the right space was available for Cohere Bandwidth.”
“The location is the best thing we could have ever asked for,” notes Zweygardt. “One of the reasons it took so long was because we wanted to avoid repeating what has been done. There have already been rehearsal spaces that have come and gone in the industrial districts just outside of the city limits of Fort Collins. The space [Wire Faces and Fierce Bad Rabbit] were robbed at was exactly that.”
With added security cameras, electronic locks, floodlights and plenty of foot traffic from the Downtown Artery, Zweygardt and Kwiatkowski hope security won’t be an issue at Cohere Bandwidth. Plus, the spaces are primarily “plug-and-play,” which means that bands don’t have to bring their own gear but can use backline equipment — amplifiers and other sound equipment installed in the studio — instead.
Cohere Bandwidth’s backline inventory includes a number of boutique guitar amps from the Colorado Springs-based Toneville company, various pedals by Denver’s Mantic Conceptual, and a couple of P.A. systems.
The facility is relatively small — it has only two rehearsal rooms — but Kwiatkowski says it will be able to accommodate plenty of artists. Unlike at some similar spaces, which must be booked monthly, the rooms at Cohere are available on an hourly basis.
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“Because we can operate 24/7, there are a lot of time slots available to practice,” says Kwiatkowski. “Everything is done digitally, through an online reservation system, so a band will be able to go on and quickly see what room is available at what time and make a reservation.”
So far, 43 bands have joined Cohere Bandwidth’s waiting list; Kwiatkowski hopes the space will be ready in April. She’s planning to have a grand-opening celebration during Fort Collins’s annual FoCoMX music festival, which takes place April 24 and 25 this year.
For his part, Zweygardt is looking forward to running the spaces and working directly with bands as Cohere Bandwidth’s main point of contact.
“We are creating an entirely new type of community,” Zweygardt says. “It’s more than just our rehearsal-space project. We will be a part of this incredible grassroots creative district that is emerging in Fort Collins. This is what the community really needs.”