Under Rose's tutelage, Appleseed Cast recorded its two-part masterpiece Low Level Owl here at the Red House recording studio. Kill Creek's Proving Winter Cruel and Ultimate Fakebook's This Could Be Laughing Week rank among the hundreds of other local favorites that were born in its booths. Even William Burroughs stopped here to ramble his spoken-word barrage "The 'Priest' They Called Him," a collaboration with Kurt Cobain.
Originally located in Lawrence, the studio now resides 6 miles down the road in Eudora, Kansas. The red-brick building, erected in the nineteenth century and located on Main Street, housed a number of businesses over the years, including a bank, a bar and even a funeral parlor, before morphing into its current incarnation as a recording studio. Late last year, the Get Up Kids and house producer Ed Rose purchased Red House, gave it a face-lift of Elizabeth Taylor proportions and rechristened it Black Lodge.
"We'd recorded here quite a bit, even at the old location," explains Get Up Kids bassist Rob Pope. "We always thought it was a good resource to have close to home, as opposed to having to drive. Any comparable studio would be in Dallas or Chicago or Nashville. We've spent enough money paying for other people's studios, we figured we might as well start paying for our own."
Looking for a people person who understood the nuances of life in the rock lane, the Kids and Rose recruited Kill Creek guitarist Ron Hayes to manage the Lodge's day-to-day affairs and create an online presence with www.blacklodgerecording.com.
"We wanted it to be something new," Hayes says. "We didn't want to just change the name. We wanted it to be nicer and not be so Sanford and Son, with a broken-down trike in the front yard."
The affable Hayes proved a good fit with the Get Up Kids. The band was influenced by Kill Creek's spirited work and DIY ethos, and both groups had popped their "real studio" cherries at Red House.
"When we had maybe six songs under our belt, we put out that first 7-inch on our own, which we recorded up in Lincoln, Nebraska, in a house," Pope recalls. "And then basically, we called Ed and recorded four songs in an afternoon, out at the old place. That was when he was really still building up quite a bit, too. And we continued to work with him, but by that time we were under the assumption that you had to get out of town to make records. Ed's really built a name for himself. A lot of bands are really seeking him out, really wanting to work with him. So they're coming from all over."
From nearby, too. Black Lodge's first project was the forthcoming third effort from the New Amsterdams, Get Up Kids singer and guitarist Matt Pryor's acoustic one-man showcase. Since the beginning of the year, the Lodge has hosted Epitaph recording artist Motion City Soundtrack and Limbeck, a band signed to the Kids' former label, Doghouse.
"It was pretty cool to have our first big check come from our old record label," Pope says, adding that the band has shied away from using its own name to promote its latest business venture. "We didn't want to play that up too much. This place is what it is. It's not like we're going to come and play on your record."
In addition to boosting the studio's already formidable equipment library, the Kids converted the building's second floor into a cozy two-bedroom apartment, complete with a kitchen, washer and dryer, cable TV and high-speed Internet access -- in other words, everything a working band could ever want without worrying about angry calls from the neighbors or being too drunk to make it to the next session on time. Of course, setting up shop in Eudora doesn't exactly provide much in the way of social or cultural distractions, which can be a benefit for rock bands, according to Pope.
"We've had really good and really bad experiences recording in big cities -- New York, Chicago, L.A.," he explains. "Doing a record [here] outweighs the distractions of a big city. I doubt a band from Seattle knows anyone in Eudora, Kansas. It is quite a strange location for an out-of-town band, but all the bands that have come from out of town really dig staying up here."
As for the area's most notable in-town band, the Get Up Kids' members are holed up in the Lodge's still-under-construction B-room, rehearsing new material for a full-length slated for February 2004. The effort will be coproduced by Rose and the band, which now has the means to record at its leisure just a few miles from home. It's a welcome change given that the sporadic, spontaneous tactics of producer Scott Litt (Nirvana, R.E.M.), who produced 2002's On a Wire, didn't mesh well with the Kids' linear approach.
"He's scatterbrained," Pope recalls. "The record was done all over the map. 'Let's go back and do that guitar part on that song.' We do that, and he'd go, 'Let's go back to this song.'"
Litt's eccentricities were taken in stride, though they didn't help make the tumultuous Wire sessions any easier.
"It's always a battle," Pope says. "You kind of have to sit back and realize the absurdity of it. Why are we arguing about this? A lot of times, fighting brings out the best in people. I think the last record was more of a battle than any record previous to that, just because we spent more time in the studio -- it was the first one where we really thought about what we were doing."
With its resources just minutes away, the Get Up Kids should have more time than ever to ponder its recording approach. In the meantime, the band has been unveiling unreleased material onstage in Japan, though its members haven't forgotten that familiarity never breeds contempt at the rock show.
"It sucks the life out of a show sometimes when a band thinks they're Uriah Heep and shows up and plays all new songs," Pope says. "It's going to be different than the last record. So far, it's much more guitar-oriented -- heavier, kind of faster songs. But it's not punk rock by any means. It'll be different again, once again, but it sounds like the five of us playing downstairs ... like Uriah Heep."