Talk of the Town - Building codes September 25 2003

Local band the Close discuss banding together in close quarters

It's been said that the family that plays together stays together. For local band The Close, the adage lives in inverse — that is, they stay together and play together. Most of the band — singer/guitarist Brooks Meeks, bassist Dustan Nigro and singer/keyboardist Theresa Marie Fedor — cloister in a communal 10-person loft in the West End storage warehouses.

A band living together allows members to feel each other out prior to touring. The Close, however, has taken DIY band life a step further, carving — almost literally by modifying walls/electrical systems — a home/studio.

There are pratfalls of living in a home with other bands: a 7-foot skateboard mini-ramp and occasional transients including filthy circus freaks (really).

Creative Loafing: How did you end up developing in a "developing neighborhood"?

Meeks: When Dustan and I moved from Auburn, Ala., in 1999, we looked at houses but needed space better suited for recording. We moved here to build a studio, and the space has gotten progressively more developed. A no cruising law has toned down what the area used to be like, which was Freaknik every weekend.

Fedor: I decided I wanted to be able to both tour and afford rent, so I moved in about a year ago.

Meeks: You don't have to think about rent till it's due; you can make it in a night or two. You have the money to make your space nice, if you like. Plus you have the freedom to customize more than just paint — you can build anything you can build. Having done contract construction since right after graduating from high school certainly helped. Actually, the first electrical job I did was this place.

Did communal living cause any shocks?

Fedor: It wasn't that new. I always lived with brothers, and Brooks staying in a DIY house in Auburn where bands played. Despite the shared hallway and common area/kitchen, which does get a little nasty, it's more like we live in an apartment complex than sharing an apartment. You walk by people, but there's almost this understood gaze that says, "Hi," but to not stop to talk aimlessly.

Meeks: It's not to say people are unfriendly. People will sit in the kitchen and have beers, take a minute, say hello, but you learn to respect everyone has a crazy schedule and needs time and space.

Any problems from having almost 10 other roommates, a skate ramp and unannounced visitors?

Meeks: Despite what you see in Jackass, the skaters are respectful — there's an 11 p.m. cutoff followed. All the bands living and practicing here adhere to that. There was this disgusting lowlife freak show here once, sleeping on the couches naked and having public sex, but otherwise there've been no problems.

Would you ever reconsider moving into a house?

Meeks: No. It may seem like the ghetto outside the gate, and sometimes even crazier inside, but for what we pay — and not having to pay for rehearsal space and recording time — our efficiency and standard of living jumped 40 percent.