By Morgan Bryce
‘The Sound Wall,’ Opelika’s newest music studio, is slated to open later this month.
Founded by Rob and Jen Slocumb of the local folk/rock act Martha’s Trouble, the couple hopes the studio will expand the city’s art scene and make Opelika a musical destination.
“It’s all about community. We want the community of writers and bands and artists around to embrace it,” Rob said.
Jen, a native of Canada, said she and Rob both fell in love with the city after a performance at Eighth & Rail, and moved to Opelika in 2005.
“Opelika was what really brought us to the area from Canada. We toured a lot throughout the Southeast and when we played Eighth and Rail when Richard (Patton) owned it, we kinda just fell in love with the town and the potential of what it had to offer,” Jen said. “We bought into the community … and wanted to see it grow and become more of an arts community and have a thriving downtown.”
They have since moved to Auburn.
Jen said the idea for creating a musical space for both rehearsing and recording came from their touring experiences for Martha’s Trouble.
“Rob and I, when we were on the road or playing full time, we would always look for rehearsal space. It was either in our house, which, when you have kids, makes it that much harder … or rent out storage spaces,” Jen said. “We had a difficult time finding the ideal space in which you could both work and be creative.”
Last year, they set out to find the perfect building to house their new studio, and selected the home at 605 Avenue B.
The house, which had been abandoned for more than a decade, needed plumbing, electricity, heating and air conditioning, as well as new windows and doors. Now, nearly a year later, the restorations are nearing completion, and Rob said he is excited to finally see his vision for the house blossom.
The Sound Wall consists of two studio rooms that will be used for recording, rehearsing, song-writing sessions, photo and video shoots, as well as a space for small, intimate concerts. There is also a fully equipped gourmet kitchen to allow artists a chance to experience the culinary talents of area chefs. The house also features 1,000 sq.-ft. one-bedroom apartment upstairs.
The Slocumbs said they expect the studio to thrive, citing its creative vibes and excellent location.
“In our experience, people go to Nashville or New York or L.A. with big labels and work in these great studios, but this is a chance to come and experience where they can get away from a lot of the craziness and busyness and pressure … and come and just create,” Jen said.
Rob added that the building’s versatility will be another factor in its success.
“It’s a one-stop shop … you got a place to stay, you got a place to create, you got a place to record, you got a place to have great meals together and then you have what downtown has to offer. On the map, we’re a perfect stop,” Rob said. “We’re an hour-and-a-half from Atlanta … and if you’re coming from Birmingham way, we’re two hours away, right off (Highway) 280.
The Sound Wall held its first concert last Thursday, featuring music from local folk singer Connor McCullum and Florence-based singer/songwriter Chandler Austin Jones.
To keep up with Martha’s Trouble and Sound Wall, follow their pages on Facebook and Instagram.