WE know you’re eager to get in and get recording again – and Rooks Yard is really keen finally to get the studio up and running after the enforced break caused by the Covod-19 Pandemic. It’s going to be a while before any of us is able to return to 100% normal operation, but Pete and I have put a lot of thought into finding a way in which we operate safely, provided everyone is prepared to follow a few rules and take a few sensible precautions.

What we are doing…

During the lockdown, we have cleaned the studio and have been making a few changes, with new equipment, including some new mics, better acoustic treatment and a great-sounding pair of fantastic HHB Audio Circle 5A monitors for the control room.

We will continue to clean the studio thoroughly and regularly between sessions – wiping down surfaces, stands and other equipment and cleaning headphones and vocal mics with specialist cleaning materials.

 We are hoping to move some of our usual stock of great vintage tube amps and other equipment out of the studio, into storage nearby, to ensure we have as much room as possible to ensure musicians can maintain social distancing. If there is something on our equipment list that you definitely want to use, please let us know so that we can make sure we have it there for you.

Rooks Yard has long been known for capturing great live rhythm tracks and we understand how important it sometimes is for musicians to play together in the same room. Our 6m x 6m live room is big enough to allow a drummer a bass player and a guitarist to record safely while maintaining social distancing. Because the live room has just the one main entrance, we would ask musicians to maintain social distancing by entering the room singly, with the drummer (furthest from the door) first, and observing the same procedure in reverse when leaving.

 Instrumentalist/singers wishing to record a guide vocal at the same time as track-laying have a choice of setting up a mic in the live room, facing away from the other players to avoid the risk of aerosol spray from vocals, or singing and playing from the vocal booth alongside the control room, using a wireless system to connect guitars to amps in the live room. We have a good, transparent Line 6 system available.

Our Control Room measures approximately 6m by 4.5 and has enough space allow two studio staff plus one band member to be accommodated at one time – unfortunately, we will not be able to bring the whole band into the control room to listen to playbacks, or simply to hang out while other players are soundchecking or overdubbing.  We have playback system in the Live Room to allow musicians to listen to takes in situ, without constantly coming through to the control room to listen back.

We will provide hand sanitisers, wipes and pedal bins for disposal of wipes in all areas and also have a supply of disposable face masks available for those who wish to wear them.

What we need you to do…
Above all, we would also you to be mindful and respectful of the personal space of others – musicians and studio staff.

If you are feeling unwell, or showing ANY of Covid symptoms (high temperature, persistent cough and sore throat, extreme fatigue, loss of sense or taste or smell) we’re afraid we won’t able to let you come in and work with us.

Unfortunately, for a while, recording won’t be quite the sociable experience it has always been. We need to minimise the number of people in the building at any one time so we can ensure social distancing. This means we can accommodate band members only – friends, relatives and partners will have to give it a miss.

Wherever possible, we would also ask you to say out of the studio building when not actively involved in recording. If the pub garden next door is open, we would encourage you to enjoy their hospitality. 🙂

Drum set-up and soundchecking tends to come first and take longer than that for other instruments, so it would be helpful if you could arrange for your drummer to arrive at least half an hour before the other musicians – an hour if they are using their own kit. This means the rest of the band won’t be hanging around while they set up and soundcheck.

Similarly, when you have finished recording your parts, we would ask you not to hang around at the studio.

We are trying to avoid attended mixes wherever possible. This is a way of working we have developed over the past couple of years with great success. It saves a good deal of time and money for clients and will be  all the more important in the coming months. Talk to Pete about the kind of sounds you’re after (send mp3s of tracks with sounds you like, too). He will then set up basic mixes and send them to you to listen to and comment upon, then make adjustments accordingly. Within reason, you will not be charged extra for tweaks and adjustments to mixes put together this way.

Face masks are uncomfortable and a pain, but sadly, are important in the confines of the studio. They keep you safe from us, as well as us safe from you. Obviously, vocalists can’t use them, but we will take steps to isolate singers and screen to eliminate spray from their mouths.

We would ask you to make sure you clean your hands regularly, using the wipes and sanitiser provided and the washing facilities in the studio toilets. Please put all discarded wipes and other items in the pedal bins provided. We will be sanitising headphones between sessions, but if you prefer to bring your own, by all means do.

If possible, avoid bringing food and drink (other than small snacks and bottled water) into the studio. Unfortunately, our tea and coffee-making facilities are likely to be out of bounds, so bring a flask if you want hot drinks. Wherever possible, eat and drink outside the studio. The pub next door (Wibblers) offers excellent food as well as a great selection of real ales and other drinks.