Tucked away on Potrero Hill, the beloved recording studio Tiny Telephone is turning 15 this year. As Noise Pop festivities get under way, indie superhero and studio founder John Vanderslice is inviting the public inside for its very first open house.
Thursday’s event likely will be more crowded than a personal tour, but is guaranteed to be cozy, with a bit of background music and many of the studio’s engineers standing by to answer questions.
There will be some free drinks, but “at some point we will run out of alcohol,” Vanderslice promises, encouraging BYOB. “It’s always best if people have a stash of alcohol.”
Everyone – from those who have recorded at Tiny Telephone to those just hearing about it for the first time – is welcome.
“This is not about a bunch of techy insiders hanging out being nerds. It’s to celebrate the entire community. I really want to see people who are not musicians, people who would never be in a recording studio if it were not for this open house,” says Vanderslice.
The warehouse studio is a well-kept secret in San Francisco, but no stranger to big names. Death Cab for Cutie, The Mountain Goats, Spoon, and Ra Ra Riot have recorded there, among many others.
Tiny Telephone currently boasts two recording spaces, an A Room and a B Room (and an echo chamber!), but Vanderslice is slowly taking over the entire lot. He already has consoles built for a C Room, and construction is scheduled to begin this summer.
Since the studio opened in 1997, analog-enthusiast Vanderslice has amassed an impressive, ever-expanding list of gear. Today, his favorite piece is an Ampex 440C with VSO, but if you ask him tomorrow, the answer will be different.
While the equipment at Tiny Telephone will easily garner the attention of music buffs, the welcome, communal atmosphere is enough to hold the unsuspecting visitor in place for a few hours. Stop in to say hello, and after Vanderslice insists on a cup of tea, you could find yourself napping on the velvet couch with Marvin, the resident feline.
Though his gear obsession may imply otherwise, Vanderslice is invested in the fans just as much as he is in the music. At shows across the country, he often encourages audience members to drop him a line for a free tour anytime they’re in town.