Steve Poponi and Dave Downham (Gradwell House Recording Studio, Haddon Heights, NJ)

February 4, 2021
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About Gradwell House

  • 6400 sq ft facility converted from a Masonic lodge into a recording studio with multiple recording rooms and rehearsal spaces

About Steve and Dave

  • From South Jersey
  • Sound Engineers
  • Husbands and Fathers
  • Were members of Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right BA Start

The Parts of Business They Love

  • Owning and working at a hub “full of people who are all doing music industry stuff with so many people that are doing what you're doing." (7:06)
  • “Dave and I have been recording bands for 20 years. We don't record anything else. I mean, very little else...everything else is rock and roll bands. Dude, how cool is that?” (12:40)
  • “Doing this stuff is an incredibly good fit for my personality.” (14:34)
  • “It's just such a nice feeling to not have that weird doubt in what you do or whether your day is going to be good or bad because you don't like the thing you're about to go do.” (16:24)
  • Being recognized for “the technical level, the cleanliness, the professionalism of the staff.” (31:28)

The Hard Parts

  • Burnout (11:59)
  • “When you're first starting out your clients suck, too, right...You're working with garbage. Yeah. So that can grind you out.” (12:12)
  • COVID: "So the pandemic hits, and we went from every room having, you know, between two and four hours, five nights a week to all of the rooms having zero hours, seven nights a week, like zero." (37:04)
  • The Metal Core moment in the 2000s. “Metal core almost ended it for us.” (41:07)

Major Insights

  • The space where you do your work and invite clients matters on several levels. (8:56)
  • “Take every single dollar you get and put it in the bank, and then take it out with your debit card or take it out with a withdrawal.” (20:33)
  • "Put it on paper.” (21:59)
  • “Very consciously, the idea with this place is...there's the diversity of revenue stream.” (35:11)
  • Once you have created something, you need to do “the promotional aspect”, “the legwork”, the “backend.” You need an “entrepreneurial spirit.” (51:21)
  • “So even if you rub weird personalities, even if you have a sometimes you do drop the ball...If you prove that you are always dependable, they always come back.” (57:47)
  • “The classic idea of if you build it, they will come is 100% not true. The most untrue thing you've ever ever heard.” (58:15)
  • “Get really good at one thing [at a time].” (1:04:25)
  • Start out minimal. (1:05:20)
  • “Entrepreneurs are always so boastful about what they did, all this great stuff. It's like, yeah, but listen, I could not have done this without my wife.” (1:08:41)
  • “Just be humble dummy.” (1:11:23)
  • “There are operating expenses, man. You're going to break stuff...Guess what, it sucks. There's nothing you can do about it. Just go take care of it.” (1:14:21)

Miscellaneous Good Stuff

  • "My wife found this really sketchy warehouse in Gloucester City for like 700 bucks a month. And it had a junkyard dog and everything." (3:26)
  • "Honestly the only reason I wanted to record is because there was nothing else that sucked as little as that...Every other job I've ever had sucked. So that one easily sucked the least." (9:28)
  • Again, live sound engineers as “bitter” people. “Like no one ever seems happy necessarily doing it.” (10:04)
  • The “Sad Guy” in the band. (44:16)
  • The multiple releases of William Eilish. (52:26)
  • Ete is an eight out of 10. (1:16:03)
  • "Falafel's just so eatable every day, every day." (1:17:38)

The most amazing quote I've ever heard. You can't get better than this. Keep going with it.

- Enzo Whipple

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