Musicians mourn as local rehearsal complex Bedrock.LA closes

Saturday afternoon felt like waking up outside Bedrock.LA in Echo Park.

At noon, hundreds of the thousands of musicians who have recorded, rehearsed, and found friends for 13 years walk into a Byzantine industrial building just a few blocks north of Echo Park Lake. We were in line. They grabbed a bargain on Bedrock gear and hauled out drum sets, amp stacks, pianos and PA systems with vacant eyes and quiet nostalgia.

But mostly, they gathered for one last look at the space that fostered their dreams of stardom or cherished their room to raise hell. rice field.

“When you walk in, you’re addicted to talking to people from all walks of life,” said musician Alex Hoffmaster, 36, describing the hallways and chaotic dead-ends that span two floors. “I didn’t know it was dark outside when I went outside after practice,” he said.

“Even before I started gigging, I was coming here just to hang out,” said Jonathan Rivera, 29, who played in a rock group called Bloodhound. “LA is a very big city, but this place felt small. Playing here was a really special time in my life.”

It’s gone from superstars like Thom Yorke, to moonlight celebrities like Maya Rudolph and Ryan Gosling (each of whom rehearsed there), with just a few guitar and Taco Zone track-down changes these days. It was true for just about everyone who passed through Bedrock, even those who were ported to LA. block.

After a 14-month dragged-out closure for building repairs, the beloved rehearsal and recording complex has ceased operations as a scruffy home for local musicians. Staff and tenants blame gentrification and an increasingly inhospitable city for the artists’ struggles. The Bedrock landlord says the structure was beyond salvage.

Some of Bedrock’s customers find new places to rehearse, but for many who had rooms there, the loss of Bedrock bodes bleak.

“We are losing ground for making art in Los Angeles,” Hoffmaster said. “To have this place taken from us is just, umm.”

The musicians will be attending the closing sale on December 17th at Bedrock.LA.

(Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times)

In 2009, Kamran V, now 43 (that’s how he stylizes his last name) and Phil Feynman, 36, opened Bedrock in a former jewelry factory just south of the 2 Freeway Offramp The two (along with partner Cosmo Jones) were trying when they did. It separates the difference between the free-for-all downtown industrial warehouses and the sophisticated Hollywood facilities where bands practice their gigs. Kamran worked on his engineering projects for Interscope and Sonos sounds (he works with his Beck and his Nine Inch Nails), and Feinman built and repaired music equipment. Without the real estate crash of 2008, he wouldn’t have been able to build a 40,000-square-foot building in one of the city’s most popular downtown areas.

“I was 23 when we started this business together. I didn’t know what we were doing,” Feynman said. “But now it’s been this place for most of my adult life.”

“When we first opened, I remember some people saying, ‘Oh, this room isn’t sound proof and nobody’s bringing you coffee.'” “But who gives af? Because you had all these precious random encounters.”

Sure, the junky conveyor belt up the stairs to the second floor can tear your arms off if you’re not careful. But there was a full-service gear repair service, equipment shop, reception, free parking, and cold beer vending machines at the push of a button (shhh). I had to fend off Eagles of Death Metal’s Jesse Hughes throwing a knife into the lobby wall.

Bedrock quickly became a favorite hub of the local music scene. His Cyrcle, a street art collective, painted a stylized mural of a snake eating a building’s exterior, and Bedrock hosted a candidate debate for a controversial city council election. The 24/7 waiting list for the room was in the thousands, but the owners kept the rental rate relatively affordable (around $25 per hour) and made it easy to get to nearby gigs. I have secured a place to sleep.

“People had these heartfelt stories about how bedrock affected their lives,” Kamran said. We had really young kids who literally grew up in a state, we had our wedding reception here, Flying Lotus played our holiday party, Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs curated our Bedrocktoberfest event At the end of the day, after the staff had closed, we went upstairs to jam.

Three men and a dog posing in a parking lot

Bedrock.LA co-founders Cosmo Jones (left), Phil Feinman and Kamran V.

(Andy House)

Bedrock was something of an Ellis Island for young musicians to find their way in the city (for a while this writer was included). His 29-year-old Danny Espinoza, who has been playing at Bedrock since he was 19, said, “It was such a cute vibe with art like this all over the place. It had a huge impact on the community here.” ‘ said.

The bolder names were also evocative. Comedy rock legend ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic recorded his first No. 1 album ‘Mandatory Fun’ in 2014 at one of his Bedrock studios. “Bedrock has a lot of memories,” Yankovic wrote in an email. “It was our home away from home. Camran was very generous in allowing us to record for free, so Bedrock could definitely share those bragging rights.” increase.”

Weezer guitarist Brian Bell has had a room at Bedrock for years. “I was living in Encino at the time,” he said in an email. A band that came before the industry homogenized them.

Bedrock is a den of collaboration, and Michael Siciliano, a sociologist at Tulane University, has written a book, Creative Control, on the economics of contemporary art centered around the Bedrock scene.

“What impresses me is how hard people work to develop a sense of place and make them feel special,” Siciliano said. , here you can have these social connections in a way that is not just a transaction.”

Despite several break-ins and floods, Bedrock survived the pandemic. But just months after reopening, the building’s owners told Kamran and Feynman that a broken rooftop AC unit had severely damaged the structure, making repairs nearly impossible. Bedrock should evict everyone and shut down permanently.

A representative of the building’s owner, Standard Oil Investment Group, said by phone, “Unfortunately, when the ceiling tiles were opened, there was a large amount of cracking and the building was collapsing. I took a structural engineer with me. He said that if there was an earthquake, it would be a disaster.

“We love our musicians and feel for them,” the representative continued.

“I don’t believe it,” Kamran said of the landlord’s reason for closing. Standard Oil Group owns many luxury commercial and residential properties in Beverly Hills and West Hollywood. “We got an accurate estimate of the cost of repairs to the contrary from[the building developer]CBRE.

Kamran and Feynman predicted that the beer-sticky utopia probably wouldn’t last forever, but even so, “when I had to tell the staff, I just couldn’t get it together,” says Camran. Many of the dozens of employees who cycled through were touring artists who depended on Bedrock for flexible work. “Of course these kinds of things are fleeting. .”

Musicians line up in hallway to buy instruments

Essentials sale at Bedrock.

(Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times)

Feinman has since gone on to work for microphone company AKG, and Kamran has produced music festivals like Moogfest in North Carolina. Elsewhere he has no plans to reopen Bedrock.

“Losing that building means losing the way to the culture,” adds Siciliano, adding that local clubs like Echo and Echoplex were recently acquired by Live Nation, while others like Satellite I mentioned that the club was closed during the pandemic. “It seems to be disappearing as cities change, especially in Echo Park and the East Point, with big money coming in.”

On Saturday, some pointedly pointed out that Bedrock’s closure meant the end of a chapter in their lives, as the musicians took home mementos of the years spent there. They could practice at nearby places like Pirate Studios and ABC, but in a city unforgiving of young artists, Bedrock was the place to hang out, work and, in a pinch, live.

“I slept in the rehearsal room here after a bad breakup,” said 31-year-old Rodney Mitchell. He hasn’t given up on music, he admits. They will never be able to replace the feeling of this place. “

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