The loud, ugly glory of Perth’s band rehearsal rooms

Elite Sound Studios. Gone but not forgotten. Photo: Facebook
Elite Sound Studios. Gone but not forgotten. Photo: Facebook

IN my experience, band rehearsal rooms were  –  universally  -  rundown cockroach hostels.

Unless you’re a group no longer in hock to ‘the company’, or you have a drummer whose dad owns a warehouse (always highly sought after), your rehearsal space is buried in an industrial wasteland, the walls covered in graffiti and band stickers, the ‘carpet’ in cigarette burns.

Yet these are hallowed halls where the brave plot, solemn spaces where the important work of chasing dreams is done.

How the dishes can save your soul

They are places of preparation.

It’s a cause. Rehearsal rooms breed endurance. You were supposed to be out by midnight, but no one ever checked.

It is one thing to throw yourself into work when there is a guarantee of electronic funds transfer each fortnight, quite another when this transaction is just a vague fantasy.

Photo: Facebook

But that is what people in bands do: they finish their day job, they pack their car full of heavy things and drive to some remote brick outpost to meet like-minded souls with whom they create.

I experience a wave of nostalgia when I think of these rooms  –  the riffs, the banter, the piss-taking and camaraderie.

Places like Sound Works in Bayswater, Elite in Osborne Park, Sound Centre in Morley, Lounge and Dream in Leederville, Platinum in Malaga –  dilapidated monasteries for creative souls.

Now they’re all gone.

I didn’t realise it through the VB and pot smoke, but what I was doing in those rooms was the same thing I do now on my laptop when everyone is asleep  -  I was making things. I could have been a carpenter, but in year eight I snapped my wooden spoon in a vice.

The amount of sweat spilled in those rooms (always take a Perth rehearsal room’s claim to be ‘air-conditioned’ with a pinch of salt) matched that of any boxing gym, and essentially the purpose was the same — the honing of skills through repetition and the pursuit of fulfilment.

I always get a slight chill when I walk into a boxing gym. It’s a place of work, where professionals and dedicated amateurs practice a craft.

Smokin’ Joe Frazier gets to work. Photo: Getty

Band rooms and gyms are the places where you find out if you’ve got something before you try it under the lights.

I’m not a religious man (but I do know a bit about Eric Clapton and both Gary Abletts). I don’t like the word ‘spiritual’.

But I’m interested.

One of these hot nights I’m going to drive round and find a rehearsal room, spend half an hour on a battered couch listening to the cacophony that can only be made when four bands rehearse simultaneously in inadequately sound-proofed rooms.

I’ll watch them drift out at different times, contemplate waving the Geiger counter over the kettle before deciding against making a cuppa.

Maybe I’ll hear an argument, or watch a band dissolve as one of mine did, outside Lounge in Leederville.

It’ll be good for the soul.

Also by Greig Johnston:

Something terrible is happening to Tom Cruise

Why we’d all be better off on bikes

How long until gambling ads go up in smoke? 

Get in touch:

greig.johnston@communitynews.com.au