I'm moving out of Band Spaces Williamsburg tonight. My drums and I have inhabited rehearsal room E10, a closet-sized 4.5' x 4.5' since October 2010. I'm moving in to Savaria Studios 2.0, a recently created cluster of rehearsal spaces in South Williamsburg's Pfizer building.
The story of the Pfizer building is wild. Pfizer pharmeceutials began at this location in 1849, grew over the years to employ thousands, then shuttered the entire facility in 2008, providing all sorts of ruins porn for photographers and rust fetishists. Now the facility is home to dozens of food startups, the production set for an upcoming Spiderman film, and other independent operations like Savario Studios. It wasn't until after signing the contract for the space that I learned why Savaria moved to South Williamsburg from Gowanus. The spaces there, and the gear inside them, were wholly ruined by hurricane Sandy last year. The new developers of the Pfizer gave Tamas, ower of Savaria, a hand to help him get back in business.
In time, Tamas will be building out other rooms available in the Financial Offices wing. Those rooms are isolated from the rest. Some could be converted into ideal recording spaces. It's been a few years, since living in Pittsburgh really, that I've not been able to record on my own. The current room allows it at certain times of the day because of the quiet provided by a small number of musician tenants at Savaria. It would be so nice to get back to DIY music production.
The majority of the space in the Pfizer building – offices, labs, production rooms, and sprawling hallways – is unoccupied and dilapidated. Around midnight, all by myself, it feels a little strange in there. But it's never uneasy. There's a security staff monitoring through lots of cameras and, more importantly, a sense of camaraderie among the inhabitants. There's even a bit of that urban frontier vibe in the place, like we're all in this together. The food startups sell their product on the cheap to other tenants. 8.5" x 11" flyer promises of Grilled Cheese Tuesdays and Kombucha Happy Hours cover the walls of the main elevators.
What matters most to me is the new space lets me set up my drums in full. I couldn't do this at Band Spaces. My elbows literally hit the walls in there when I practiced. Savaria smells like hot amps and fresh carpet. I hope it stays that way. At Band Spaces the stench of garlic emanating from the processing plant next door, mixed with stale beer and the musicians' collective hygenic ennui seeped into everything I owned. I tolerated that because I had to, because musicians think that sort of inanity and disregard is a cornerstone of creative culture. I am looking forward to airing out.