The Atomic Garden

LOCATION: East Palo Alto, CA CONTACT: KEY CREW: Jack Shirley

CONSOLE: Digidesign Control|24

COMPUTER: Dell 4600 Pentium 4 2.8GHz, 4GB RAM, 2TB Western Digital storage

DAW: Digidesign Pro Tools HD2, HD 7.3

INTERFACE: Digidesign 192 I/O

SOFTWARE: Access Virus Indigo soft synth; Antares Auto-Tune 4.0; Digidesign ReVibe, SoundReplacer, Velvet; Focusrite d2, d3; Line 6 Amp Farm, Echo Farm; Massey L2007; Propellerhead Reason 2.5; Sony Oxford Inflator; Trillium Lane Labs TL Space; Waves Diamond Bundle 5.0

MONITORING: Event Precision 8 (2), TR8-XL (3), 20/20 Sub

MICS: AKG C414 B-XLS (2), D112; Audix D2 (2), D4 (2), i5; Røde NTK, NT1 (2), NT5 (2); Sennheiser e609, MD421II; Shure Beta52, Beta57, Beta58, Green Bullet, SM7, SM57 (3), SM58

OUTBOARD: Chameleon Labs 7602 (12), 7622 (2); Chandler Limited TG1; Empirical Labs Distressor EL8-X (2); Radial J48 (6), X-Amp (2); Universal Audio 2-1176

INSTRUMENTS: Ernie Ball StingRay; Fender American Deluxe Jazz Bass, ’73 P-Bass; Gibson Les Paul Standard, SG Reissue Bass; Gretsch G6118 Anniversary Edition w/ TV Jones pickups; Martin D-15 Custom

AMPLIFICATION: Acoustic 150; Ampeg ’74 V4, SVT Reissue; Fender ’66 Bassman 50, ’73 Bassman 100, Blues Junior; Marshall JCM2000 DSL 100; Mesa/Boogie Bass 400+, Dual Rectifier; Top Hat Emplexador 50w; various Ampeg, Marshall, and Mesa cabinets

NOTES: Years ago Jack Shirley found himself waking in the middle of the night, drenched with sweat, vividly recalling a recurring dream in which he and his cohorts in the Bay Area’s own Comadre had converted a warehouse into a top-notch Pro Tools HD facility. Tired of relying on outside service providers to handle his band’s recording and merchandising needs, Shirley (and the friends that would soon be known as The Bloodtown Collective) had long wanted to bring everything in-house, securing the band unlimited tracking time to lay down its patented discordant jangles and unrelenting percussive battery, while also offering a home to like-minded musicians to indulge in their musical proclivities—off the commercial recording facility grid.

But the Bloodtown gang knew well that simply building a recording studio and opening its doors to the punk rock circle was about as fiscally responsible as buying stock in Betamax. So Shirley and crew opted to a take a three-pronged approach and offer an all-inclusive package for the bands they love by marrying Atomic Garden with Heart Side Out Press and Bloodtown Records, effectively giving bands the option to not only record, mix, and master on-site, but also design and press their merchandise and, just maybe, release their music through a full-fledged indie label—all without leaving the confines of a single East Palo Alto warehouse.

It’s a venture that’s proved fruitful: Atomic Garden has managed to bring in over 100 bands in the recent past, turn their revenue into rent, amass a pretty sweet little collection of studio toys, and support the scene that birthed them.

And the best part? While their modus operandi is pro-level service done in earnest and with a smile, the folks at the complex are far from venture capitalists looking to further ugly up the murky waters of the so-called record business—they’re just a bunch of folks who are into this whole independent music thing as much as you are.

So head on over to their website and give them a shout when you get a chance. Ask Jack how he likes his newly acquired 2-1176, why the Massey L2007 is his go-to plug-in limiter, and what it’s like running a great studio tailored for a great cause. We’re sure he’ll tell you all about it.