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A local studio is recording up-and-coming artists in an unlikely location. BY MICHELLE JACOBSON | PHOTOS BY EVAN LEONARD


n Elliot Street, hidden alongside a yellow house, sits a rustic blue barn that hosts the most tuneful players in Athens. The barn serves as a local recording studio run by producers Christopher Pyle and Josh Antonuccio, who have been mixing and creating albums for Athens-based and out-of-state bands for the past 14 years. Bands of all styles looking to produce an album can effortlessly collaborate with the skilled 3 Elliot team behind the boards. In 1999, the musical hub started off as Pyle’s debut garage studio. Later, Pyle asked fellow Ohio University graduate and close friend, Antonuccio, to come and produce while Pyle and his wife worked on another project and launched Donkey Coffee. By 2004, the two producers decided the studio needed to be expanded, because they felt limited with the space they had and knew it wouldn’t work

You never know what is going to be a hit, but you want to make it something that has distinction. Make it reflect creativity.” Josh Antonuccio Producer at 3 Elliot Studio


backdrop | Fall 2014

with the promise they saw in the bands they were recording. Antonuccio soon became owner and hired interns to help manage the company. “I’m not here to give you a polished pop song,” Antonuccio says. “That’s the wrong way to characterize. It’s more trying to get the vision of the artist into a finished product.” According to him, producing an album is all about personal goals, which lay out the starting lines for each band. Antonuccio meets with bands to find out what they ultimately want out of their projects, because it’s important for him to understand his role in shaping each artist’s album. Once the relationship is established, a plan is laid out for production. Some bands and artists come in a few weekends at a time and wait to mix the album at the end of the project. Once that is completed, Antonuccio is able to upload their work onto cloud accounts, which act as online storage lockers that make the project easier to share. Engineers in different cities can connect through online storage services like Dropbox and Google Drive, a huge benefit that enables them to transport demos faster and easier over far distances. Each engineer can add input that artists can see before tracking, or putting the elements of their songs together. Artists can record, mix and master a record in different cities. “You never know what is going to be a hit, but you want to make it something that has distinction. Make it reflect creativity,“ Antonuccio says. The most recent project he was involved with featured Wilson’s Reservoir, a quartet from Goshen, Indiana, that has collaborated for six years. The band decided to work with AntoThe average NBA cheerleader makes $56,000 per year.

nuccio because, compared to other engineers, he was the only one to truly understand the sound they sought. Antonuccio even helped write “Two Rights Make a Wrong,” a song by Wilson’s Reservoir that came to fruition after Antonuccio played around with some fragmented ideas. “The best songs come out of nowhere and just have their own way of spilling out,” says Ben Wilson, Wilson’s Reservoir band member. The song is about loss and finding an element of hope. It will be added to the band’s current album, which is thematically inspired by the life of Wilson’s grandfather. Based on the fictional point of view of a traveler, the album’s songs focus on his grandfather’s life and his confessions. Determination steered Wilson’s Reservoir into producing several more albums and pursuing performances at venues including the Goshen Theatre in Indiana, a festival at Ball State University and the National Underground in New York City. With elements of electric and folk music but no set style, the band members practice diversifying their efforts so as to not place themselves in a box. “With music, it’s better to be yourself, because something gets lost if you try to sound like someone else,” Wilson says. “It’s better this way in order to build a connection with the audience.”

Athens contains a multitude of music venues that draw people in from near and far, and Wilson’s Reservoir is just one of many artists who has worked with 3 Elliot Studio. Others include Southeast Engine, Old Hundred, Matt Moore and Emily Rogers. The studio produced Rogers’ work, which has since been licensed for use on television series such as Teen Mom. Old Hundred, from Columbus, has gained national recognition since recording at 3 Elliot. One of its songs was used to promote a countrywide commercial campaign, and the band recently performed at Nelsonville Music Festival. In addition to that success, Old Hundred was also voted as one of the top bands in Ohio by Paste Magazine. After years of success, Antonuccio hopes the studio continues to thrive as a place where music is made. He describes it as a place of creation, something that exists outside of the world and that many aren’t aware of. Contrary to a message he was given in the late ’90s, musicians don’t need a big city to record. In his mind, smaller places, like Athens, are the destinations for such work. “As a producer and engineer, I love what happens in the studio,” Antonuccio says. “Something happens here that doesn’t happen in real life.” b

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