Studio 700: The Awesome DIY Venue Hosting Tomorrow's #MusicMasquerade

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Gotta love DIY. 

We’re skipping our usual Weekend Six feature today since we’re sponsoring a sweet show tomorrow that we want to tell you a lil’ baby more about, B. Read on:

Studio 700 is a Boulder DIY venue explained to us by three of its creators: Joshua Thomas (of Villain Baritone), Boulder singer/songwriter Hunter Stone, and a man known only to us as Buckles. What started as a group of local musicians looking for a house turned into an awesome DIY venue, complete with a stage, lights, sound equipment, and a curious cutout of Alfred Hitchcock. The place is well lit, insulated, and rumored to have been used by James Taylor’s daughter for recording purposes back in the day. And the idea for its inception started with house hunting on (what else kids?) Craigslist.

Hunter: When I found the house, I was excited. I mean, I knew the potential here. I thought, ‘If we don’t get this space, it will be taken over by beer pong.’ And I knew we could turn it into something more.

Joshua: Yeah we saw this place and we were like schoolboys- we were walking around like we could do this and this and this- just drawing up silly things and mainly just getting excited. Once we saw this space, we were like ‘This is happening.’

And so began Studio 700. The venue has hosted three shows to date, each with a cool theme and an all-local lineup.

Joshua: We do this so that we can support local artists and give them a showcase, so we try to put something on at least once a month.

Hunter: Yeah there are just so many bands in Boulder that are good bands, and there just aren’t enough venues that service the musicians here. I mean The Fox is the ideal destination for most people playing in Boulder, but there just aren’t a lot of other places where music is the focused intent. And so that’s what we want to create here; a community.

Hunter & Joshua at Studio 700 talkin' 'bout Studio 700. 

Hunter & Joshua at Studio 700 talkin' 'bout Studio 700. 

So how did they build this sweet spot?

Buckles: It’s been collaborative between all of us. A lot of the physical things have definitely been Josh- building the stage and getting up the lights. And then we all have contributed different equipment.

Hunter: Yeah, like I set up a lot of my recording equipment in here. I’ve used some of that for my project Hole in the Wall Recording, which has also involved some video production. And you’ve recorded in here too, right Josh?

Joshua: Yeah with Villain Baritone, we’ve recorded a lot of our music in here. The first thing we tracked [at Studio 700] were drums and it actually sounded amazing.

Joshua and Buckles in the s700 shadows.

Joshua and Buckles in the s700 shadows.

But the guys have plans beyond recording and once-a-month shows too.

Josh: Longterm we want to collaborate with more people to see more of what we can do here and what the possibilities are.  

Hunter: I’d like to use it for more intimate things too- singer/songwriter nights and smaller shows. We want to fill the place with art; have live painting during shows. And of course we’ll keep booking bands. We want to use [this] to raise money to pay musicians and to book bands where their fans overlap. We want to keep incorporating small businesses… I mean there’s a lot of potential for it. It’s just about realizing all of the potential.

So come support this rad DIY spot Boulder! We brought you coverage on all three local bands playing tomorrow’s #MusicMasquerade, and if you missed those, click ‘em here: Whiskey Autumn, Villain Baritone with Special Guests Andrew Sturtz and Hunter Stone, and Noctogon. Join the FB event for specifics by clicking this sentence.

We’ll see you tomorrow, masked and all. Happy Weekend!

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Villain Baritone: The New Power Trio in the Boulder Music Scene

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Villian Baritone are a new Boulder band finding their sound. 

Fuzz. Pop. Adult. Baritone. That’s how Boulder-based Villain Baritone describe themselves. Consisting of Brent Wilkinson (vocals/guitar), Joshua Thomas (drums), and Rob Spears (bass/keys), this trio formed just a little over a month ago and have already been busy recording music for an upcoming EP release. So we chatted with frontman Brent Wilkinson last week to learn exactly where these guys got together, what’s in a name, and what their plans are as newcomers on the Boulder music scene.

Thanks for chatting with us Brent! First, tell us how the three of you met:

Villain Baritone’s roots began in Studio 700, where I went to check out a local songwriter’s gathering. Joshua had dropped by to get some ideas for his acoustic pieces and I was interested in learning some vocal tips. So I started playing a riff I had been working on and a couple of people encouraged me to get on an electric guitar and the mic. Joshua offered up his skills on the drum kit for the song and when we finished the track, he looked at me and said, “I was going to try out for another group but after that jam I’d rather work with you.” He had owned the pocket during the take so I replied, “Well- we just started a band.” About a week later, I mentioned the project to Rob, who runs the open mic at Outback Saloon on Thursdays. He jumped in with us and ironically, we actually found our sound together at the Outback. Playing there gave us a great opportunity to try out ridiculous band names and engage our tracks in a live setting. When I finished the guitar solo off of “Waking Up” we all felt the musical space we had created and knew then that a distinctly powerful and expressive trio had been formed.

Don't look down. Photo Credit:   Lee Davis Photography

Don't look down. Photo Credit: Lee Davis Photography

Wow! So we know you’ve been working hard at Studio 700 over the past couple of weeks recording new music. Talk to us about what that’s been like.

Studio 700 started when Joshua began to envision a multi-purpose music center where local musicians could thrive. It’s where we performed our first live set and where we laid down our first recordings. The songwriter’s workshop I mentioned, where Joshua and I first ran into each other, is hosted there as well. Studio 700 actually serves as a venue, recording studio, and a great space to write. Having the studio at our disposal has been pivotal in the formation of our group. A consistent environment for our work to live in has also been important for me as a writer; in a way it offers me a sense of momentum and connectedness between ideas. And where we’ve been recording in the studio, there is a cutout of a dissatisfied looking Alfred Hitchcock that seems to constantly judge us. I still haven’t decided if he’s a good motivator or a morale thief. Alfred’s expression aside though, we have been really fortunate to be able to work in such a relaxed atmosphere while establishing our foundations as a new group.

Shapes and Sounds. Photo Credit:   Lee Davis Photography

Shapes and Sounds. Photo Credit: Lee Davis Photography

That’s so sweet! We’re actually in the process of working on a Studio 700 feature, so we can’t wait to check the space out ourselves. Are you recording a single, an EP, a full-length? What are the plans for release?

We will be releasing our first EP, Squire Tones, in early 2016. It will be four to six tracks, each of which will be centered on what we can produce in a live setting. We want to emphasize the continuity between our live set and our recorded work because we believe it adds to the listener’s experience. Memory plays a huge role for the artist and the crowd alike, and while we certainly incorporate improvisation into our tracks, we wanted to maintain a sense of cohesiveness in how we represent our sound. We will be releasing the EP download for free online.

Can’t wait to hear it! What’s the story behind your name?

Well we had been throwing names around between the three of us for a couple of weeks when Rob started focusing on what features were unique to our sound. He noted how much I operated in a baritone range and got to thinking about classic operas where the baritones are generally portrayed as villains. So Baritone Villain came to mind and as it sunk in over a few days I mistakenly recalled the order as Villain Baritone. It seemed to have a fluidity to it that I just couldn’t shake. I took the modification to the guys and Rob agreed. Joshua at this point put his hands up and confessed he had become lost in a band-name-black-hole after so many ideas. But a couple of rehearsals later it had grown on all of us and it was official.

The Power Trio: Villain Baritone. Photo Credit:   Lee Davis Photography

The Power Trio: Villain Baritone. Photo Credit: Lee Davis Photography

I like it.  Beyond the release of your EP early next year, what other projects do you have planned for the fall/winter?

Our focus beyond the EP is truly crafting the sound that is inherent to us as a group. Once we find and become comfortable operating within that context, we definitely want to break into the Colorado music scene more as an effective and enjoyable rock group. Naturally, we’re aiming to build a fanbase as dedicated as we are to our music. And we want to create a memorable live experience.

Sounds like you’re well on your way guys. Keep up with Villain Baritone here.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.