Longtime Knox audio techs create welcome haven for local bands
If you have been in a band at any point, you have faced the struggles of where to rehearse. Historically, your options within the Knoxville city limits have been a mixed bag, leaning heavily toward the less desirable. You either have recorded in the basement of the dirtiest member of the band or you’ve pushed the most responsible member of the group to the brink of divorce as a result of having conducted weekly practices in what was supposed to be his wife’s craft room.
In an even more common scenario, you’ve rented a storage locker, rehearsed in every temperature extreme, dealt with shady landlords and lost countless decibels of hearing from preparing for shows in those awful little cells. If you’re a singer, you’ve permanently damaged your vocal cords trying to sing over the band through your improvised PA system. This writer has rehearsed in virtually every conceivable rehearsal situation, and I can attest to the fact that almost all of them absolutely suck.
On top of that, bands in those types of improvised spaces have no clue what they actually sound like through a proper sound system or monitors. For local bands lucky enough to get booked into a certain brand new rehearsal facility in East Knoxville, their struggle is about to end.
In an unmarked building surrounded by warehouses and work yards on the city’s east side, you now can rent hour-long blocks in a clean, secure, highly professional rehearsal space with a full PA, six monitor mixes, a permanent drum kit, a full microphone setup, air conditioning and plenty of space to tighten up your band’s sound comfortably.
If you’ve been in Knoxville bands long enough to know those grim practice struggles, then you also probably have crossed paths with the men behind this excellent new facility. In fact, considering that these two have been working to make Knoxville sound good their entire careers, it’s almost impossible that you haven’t run into at least one of them in the course of playing a show. Allen Braden is one of Knoxville’s most experienced and enduring live sound engineers; Bryan Smith, meanwhile, is a longtime technical director at various live performance facilities, which is how he began crossing paths and collaborating with Braden.
“Originally, Allen and I worked together for the Clayton Center for Arts,” Smith says about their initial partnership in Maryville. Friends since 2006, Smith and Braden, along with new co-conspirator Matthew Burns, decided in 2015 to go into a new production business for themselves, and Audio Visual Solutions was born.
The production company executes concerts and events that can draw crowds by the thousands, so they began searching for a warehouse in which to store their bulk of equipment. That’s how they came to their current space, and once inside they realized that they had an opportunity to offer Knoxville bands something long overdue: a safe, clean, professional practice environment.
Bands also can pay for a pallet on which to store their equipment in AVS’s safe, air-conditioned warehouse space. Though the room will accommodate one-off and sporadic blocks of time when groups need access to the facility, the monthly rate currently sits at around $120, and that includes the room and PA for an hour per week, along with a half hour of setup and teardown time.
While AVS has only the one big band room at the moment, they have plans in place to expand to more rooms in order to meet the likely demand for the big, pristine facility. AVS also has several smaller rooms that are the perfect size for teaching lessons. “Unlike a lot of places, we won’t be charging a percentage of what teachers make on the lessons they give. They rent the room and keep what they make,” Smith says.
Musicians interested in getting their expensive gear out of their filthy bass player’s disgusting back bedroom should reach out quickly via Facebook or through the company’s website, www.avstn.com, before a waiting list becomes necessary. AVS will be holding an open house on Sept. 8 for the official launch of Knoxville Band Space. Food trucks will be on site, and it the showcase will be fine opportunity for bands to start snatching up weekly blocks of rehearsal time.