Capitol’s Famous Echo Chambers Endangered By Condo Construction
Below the Capitol Records Building in Hollywood are several legendary echo chambers that have played host to the sonic output of artists ranging from Frank Sinatra to the Beach Boys to Green Day. But the allegedly magical, irreplaceable sound of Capitol Studios may be lost forever, thanks to the construction of a 16-story condominium/office building–complete with underground garage–next door. While Second Street Ventures, the group responsible for the construction, swears they’ll do everything they can to preserve the studio’s fabled ambiance, both Capitol and audio perfectionists like Jon Brion and Geoff Emerick are not pleased by the prospect of this piece of living history (which is currently used to record American Idol MP3s and orchestral Dido performances) being lost forever.
A Los Angeles City Council committee recently denied an appeal by Capitol parent EMI Music North America and recommended approval of the project, contingent on a series of additional measures — including construction walls and a foam barrier — to mitigate potential sound issues. Capitol had worked out the measures with developer Second Street Ventures as a backup plan, though still opposes the project.
“Capitol Records’ executives are reluctant to keep open the recording studios and echo chambers if they run the risk of lawsuits from recording artists and their record labels,” EMI’s attorney John Whitaker said at the hearing.
David Jordon, co-owner of Second Street Ventures, said he felt confident that the measures would protect Capitol Studios’ signature sound.
“We have no desire to create any negativity toward Capitol Records,” he said. “Our design is to enhance and protect this iconic building and the area around it. From a personal standpoint, we wouldn’t want that kind of liability.”
Jordon maintains that his company is only looking to do loud excavation and demolition from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. He also says there would be an emphasis on “open and constant communication” with Capitol, including an onsite attendant every day. Discussions continue regarding compensation to Capitol if recording sessions are affected, he said.
The full council is set to give a final vote on the proposal July 8 in a session that could attract the many music industry insiders who oppose the project — from engineers to The Recording Academy.
Hey, take heart. ProTools or some other tech company must be working on a “Capitol Studios Echo Chamber” button right now. Right?