By Johnny Papan
VANCOUVER — Upon entry, you are greeted by a giant banner of two 1950s women joyfully screaming in a concert audience, setting the tone for artists coming in to fulfill their musical desires. Since opening its doors three years ago, Pandora’s Box Rehearsal Studios has quickly become one of Vancouver’s premiere rehearsal spaces. Built and run by musicians, for musicians.
Spending over a decade as the drummer of Terror of Tiny Town, owner Paul Alexander is no stranger to rehearsals. “One of the inspirations for building this space was being unable to converse with my bandmates because we could hear the band next door,” he explains. Alexander, alongside his wife Colleen, storage locker specialist Dan Flynn, and La Chinga guitarist Ben Yardley implemented “box in box construction” while building this studio from the ground up, always keeping the importance of sound quality at the forefront. “If we had a choice between making it look pretty or making it sound good, we made it sound good.”
The 19-room studio was built entirely on ground level concrete, so artists need not worry about carrying gear up and down stairs. Amps, microphones, and full drum kits are also included within each space. “If you’re renting a room for two hours, you don’t want to spend 20 minutes setting up, and another 20 minutes tearing down,” Alexander explains. “We include a lot of stuff that other places make you rent. Here, you can walk in and play after five minutes.”
What’s pleasing is the broad mix of musicians that come into Pandora’s Box. “A grandmother will be practicing karaoke, while there’s a grindcore band in the next room, and a 35-piece brass band in Studio 19.” Studio 19 is the largest rehearsal space, often utilized for music video shoots and small concerts. “A lot of artists come here every week, some have been with us since we opened. It’s a community here.” The studio has even caught the attention of some big names, including Devin Townsend, The Pack A.D., and Black Mountain, all of whom have rehearsed within these walls.
Prior to Pandora’s Box, Alexander and Colleen ran the Surf Junction campground in Ucluelet, BC for 11 years. Alexander states the transition from running a camp to rehearsal studio was simple. “The job is essentially the same, we rent space and clean toilets. What’s great is that we don’t have to tell people to be quiet anymore.”
Pandora’s Box Studios is located at 1890 Pandora Street.BC, British Columbia, Pandora's Box, Pandora's Box Rehearsal Studios, studio