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The Blasting Room
Meeting Bill Stevenson
Bill Stevenson is the drummer for the punk band the Descendents. He’s also a prolific record producer, and owns his own recording studio, The Blasting Room.
I’m a huge fan of Stevenson’s. I think he’s one of the best in the business. Despite this, I have never actually heard any of his work, as far as I know.
I had never even heard of him at all when I met him in March 2008. I was a supervisor at a tech support call center in Kentucky. A client located in Colorado was ticked off at us, and as a peace offering, I and a teenage co-worker were sent to straighten out the communications problem.
When Co-worker found out that our client was located mere miles from The Blasting Room, she asked if I wouldn’t mind finding time during the trip to drive her there, then take her picture outside the studio’s doors. She was of the right age and mindset to know all about Stevenson and his genre of music. To be frank, I was not.
Then, worrying that maybe some security guard would come after us with a gun or something, she emailed the studio to make sure it was okay for tourists to take pictures outside the studio.
Bill Stevenson replied. Of course it was okay to take pictures outside the studio door, he said. If fact, if she knocked on the door, someone might even be in who could give her a tour.
In double fact, if she showed up at a certain time on one particular day, Stevenson himself would be there to show her around.
Co-worker was over the moon. I was skeptical that she was talking to the right guy, but went along with her request to go to the studio on that particular evening, because, hey, it was something to do other than business meetings or stay at the hotel.
Off we started to the neighboring town, looking for a music studio with badly-worded directions from Google Maps, based on what we thought was the address.
In that unfamiliar town, in the dark, with my usual bad sense of direction, and on a time schedule, naturally I got lost. I was so lost that it was getting to be past 9 p.m. I figured Stevenson would have already headed home himself, and I was beginning to give up being able to find the place at all.
Then my co-worker got a text message on her phone. From Bill Stevenson.
He asked where we were, she responded that we were lost. He sent her directions.
With his help, I finally found his studio. I wouldn’t have otherwise, because from the outside it looked like an abandoned warehouse, unlit and unused.
We were greeted by a man who seemed like an ordinary, average guy to me; tall, dark-haired, polite and tired from a full day’s work., While I apologized for making him stay late, though, I saw a transformation from my coworker, the one from usually social, talkative teen to deer-in-the-headlights, oh-my-god-its-really-him fan. I knew we had the right person.
We got the full tour, got to take pictures, and even had our pictures taken with Stevenson, who let us go at our own pace, no hint of rushing us. I don’t know if it showed in my attitude that I didn’t have a clue who he was, or who the other musicians were that were walking around, but if he figured out I was an un-hip pop-music lover, he didn’t seem to care.
I vaguely remember telling him that I didn’t think many musicians would do what he had done for us, and I vaguely remember him saying something about how musicians should treat their fans right. Specifics don’t matter. What does matter is that a person with better things to do stayed way too late after work to welcome two complete strangers into his office and let them snoop around.
When we were done, and back in the rental car, the girl who hardly spoke one word to Stevenson was back on the phone, calling and texting up a storm, letting everyone know what she’d just done. She was so busy, in fact, that she almost didn’t notice when, after 5 minutes of driving, I was taking us back past the studio, having made a complete circle in my attempt at finding my way back to the main road.
She almost didn’t notice. But when she did, the laughter between us could have been heard from inside the studio.