[Echo Chamber (′ek·ō ′chām·bər): noun, 1. a dedicated space for the purposes of transmission and repetition of sound 2. a video segment that features your favorite bands playing your favorite songs 3. a video segment where your favorite bands blow your mind].
Words by Jim
Artist / Donora
Songs / “Boom Boom” & “Mancini’s Dance Hall”
Location / Unfinished Floor, River Walk Corporate Centre 333 East Carson Street
Time / November 28, 2011
Needless to say, we were pretty damn excited to work with Donora. They’re an incredible group of musicians, lovely people, and on the verge of being absolutely huge. We’ve been waiting to work with them for a while now, but with the recent release of their terrific album Boyfriends, Girlfriends, the time was now and we had to make it happen. This was our most demanding shoot, logistically. Venues fell through. Dates got pushed back. We knew we needed someplace out of the ordinary for such an extraordinary band, so we stuck with it. The fine folks at Rostrum Records helped us out considerably, and for that, we thank them. When all was said and done, the location figured out, the times agreed upon, the equipment handled and lugged into an elevator, we found ourselves looking at an absolutely unfinished, raw space of a corporate center the size of a football field. Wow.
I ran into Jake (the bassist), and Rebecca (our awesome photographer) as I was walking into the building. Sarah from Rostrum was there to meet us and escorted us up to the 6th floor. We perused the darkened space, wandering in and our of the shadows, looking over our shoulder for zombies and ghosts the entire way. Concrete block walls surrounded us. Exposed lighting conduit ran above our heads. A fine layer of dust and dirt traced our footsteps around the floor. We located a series of columns down the way that were nicely illuminated and decided to set up shop there. Michael arrived and confirmed our good guess at the best location. The rest of the band trickled in, J brought his equipment up from the car, and a few more Rostrum folks rode the elevator up to see us. As the band warmed up, Michael and I arranged some lighting, borrowing big, hot lights from Rebecca’s studio nearby. J battled with the ridiculous reverb of an entirely open floor and when he was comfortable, the band launched into their first track.
Things sounded good. Spacey, echoey, pop rhythms washed over us, shaking the dirt from the columns and windowsills. Brendan stalked the shadows taking photos with his phone as Rebecca shot film from afar. I slipped my headphones over my ears as the band started into “Boom Boom”.
Donora only needed a few takes of each song. They were well oiled and in fighting shape. Things sounded good to them, J was happy, and Michael was starting to break a sweat. For once, he actually had enough space to move freely and was exploring it. Jake’s (the drummer) minimal set up sounded immense in the empty area. Toy keyboards beeped and blipped, echoing forever into space. In between songs, we looked out of the windows at the incredible view of rivers and downtown lights. We waited for a train to pass and once we were all clear, Donora transformed the empty space into “Mancini’s Dance Hall”.
We couldn’t ask for better than that. Two takes a song, zero mistakes, and that was a wrap. Jake packed up his drums. Casey stashed her shiny guitar and toy keyboards were placed in bags. Rebecca and I carefully took down the hotter-than-hell lights as J wrapped up dirtied mic cables. We chatted about Thanksgiving and the coming holidays. We stood in awe as Jake (the bassist) wowed us with his yo-yo-ing skills. After riding the elevators up and down more than a few times, we disassembled in the rainy evening of lower Carson street.
I’ve only ever seen Donora, much like you, at a packed, sweaty venue vying for personal space. It was really something else to experience their music in exactly the opposite setting. Thanks to the administration of the River Walk Corporate Centre for allowing us to get our hands dirty on the 6th floor. An even bigger thanks to the fine people at Rostrum Records for helping us to make this happen. Oh, and thanks to Donora for being better than awesome.
See more amazing photos from the shoot here thanks to the talented Rebecca Chiappelli.