Words and photos by Jodi Brak
CALGARY — This past December, Calgary’s Reuben and The Dark teamed up with the talented folks at OCL Studios to put on their first ever Take 5 Sessions. The event was a huge success, and studio owner Dan Owen says they are committed to hosting another Session in the spring.
About 40 listeners, some friends of the band, some dedicated fans and a few lucky contest winners, sat in on a private recording session and left with the master tracks for five songs. The crowd was packed into the main recording room at OCL Studios and wired into the soundboard through about 40 pairs of headphones.
Every effect on the guitars, every bit of vibrato in the vocals and every subtle click of the drums was crystal clear through the headsets, really enhancing the ambience that Reuben and the Dark bring to the stage. However, OCL Studios founder Dan Owen admits that wiring all of those headphones into the board was perhaps the most difficult part of the experience.
“Having that many people on headphones while still being able to mix and control the volume was quite difficult,” Owen said. “But the crowd was just in a state of separation from everything. You could see it on their faces, they were all in their own little worlds just digging what was going on.”
By taking off the headphones, listeners also had the opportunity to hear the band play a rare acoustic set.
The five tracks recorded during the session truly showcase the skill of OCL Studio’s recording staff. To say they are album quality would be an understatement; however, each track played alongside its counterpart on Reuben and the Dark’s debut album, Funeral Sky, provides a very different experience. The subtle lead guitar melodies become more pronounced and the heavy reverb on the vocals is much more present, adding to the airy, ethereal sound Reuben and the Dark are known for.
Reuben Bullock, frontman of the group, says it is always a great experience working with the staff at OCL.
“We are lucky to have the chance to record at a facility like OCL,” He said. “We had an amazing time doing these sessions and we will keep coming back.”
OCL Studios was founded by Dan Owen as a place where musicians could live and record music in comfort and solitude. Built into Owen’s home east of Calgary, just a stone’s throw from the Trans-Canada Highway, the studio combines the convenience of a quick trip to Calgary with the privacy and good hospitality of country living.
Musicians who record at OCL have access to a full suite of bedrooms, a private kitchen and near total solitude, something Owen says is an important part of the OCL experience.
“You can literally just get your provisions and camp out and make music,” Owen said. “Bands can really take advantage of a 24/7 creative process here. If you get a guitar lick stuck in your head at two in the morning you can walk downstairs to the studio and lay it down without ever worrying about bothering anybody.”
Based on the success of the first Take 5 Session, Owen and the staff at OCL studios are making plans to host another in early 2015. Judging by Owen’s enthusiasm from the last event, these sessions could become a regular fixture in Calgary’s music scene.
“The next one will be Michael Bernard Fitzgerald, and it will be in the spring,” he said. “My biggest takeaway from this whole experience was the response from the crowd. It’s something they would never have the chance to see without this opportunity, and it’s something I’d like to continue to offer.”
UPDATE: The Take 5 Session with Michael Bernard Fitzgerald will happen on May 30th. To find out more about the Take 5 Sessions, OCL Studios or the Fitzgerald session, you can visit their Facebook page, or their website at OCLstudios.com.AB, Alberta, live recording, live recording with fans, Michael Bernard Fitzgerald, OCL Studios, photo gallery, Reuben and the Dark, Take 5 Sessions