Twenty-five years ago John Storyk designed TrackMasters, in Buffalo’s historic Allentown District. The studio built a solid reputation as one of upstate NY’s best-sounding and most artist-friendly audio recording facilities. In 1986 three studio engineers, John Rzeznik, George Tutuska and Robby Takac formed a band they christened Goo Goo Dolls, and went on to sell “a lot” of records.
Today, original band members Rzeznik and Takac own TrackMasters. The first thing they did after acquiring the studio was to change its name to ‘The Inner Machine.’ Their next move was to invite architect/acoustician John Storyk and the Walters-Storyk Design Group back to develop a dramatic redesign and upgrade for the facility.
”It was great to hear from John and Robby” Storyk says. “Every so often we get a chance to revisit an earlier project. I relish the opportunity to assess what worked, what did NOT work and what can be made to work better.” The studios’ live and control rooms are housed in the 1100 sq. ft. 2nd floor of the 150+ year-old former St. Margaret’s Girls School Convent which is part of a unique “Jeffersonian” arts campus.
“It’s an interesting building, and the rooms have a distinctive sound,” Storyk continues. “Originally designed primarily to record music for TV and radio commercials, the new mandate was to create a fresh, live acoustic feel, particularly in the large tracking room and to integrate a much needed technical recording and processing equipment update We stripped away the original finishes and treatments and replaced them with a completely new acoustic package including a relatively large amount of perforated wood surfaced treatments, raising the RT60 value of the room while still controlling low frequency decay. Additional structural changes were effected, including the creation of a new 50 sq. ft. vocal booth adjacent to the control room. We’ve found artists really take advantage of booths once that option is available to them. The first floor features an overdub room, lounges and offices for Robby Takac’s Good Charamel record label.
WSDG systems designer Judy Elliot-Brown reports the group will rely on Pro Tools for archiving, but emphasizes their commitment to analog. “They have outfitted the control room with over fourteen racks of vintage gear,” Elliott-Brown says. “Retro Instruments, Universal Audio and Teletronix, Chandler Limited and other tube compressor/limiters; Mercury, GML and Chandler Limited EQs; Lexicon, Eventide, AMS and other delay, reverb and effects units plus M3 Passive Main and Air 15 Nearfield Monitors and a classic 48 channel API Legacy Console. They’ve got a terrific collection here, one of the largest we have seen in a commercial audio control room.”
Over the past twenty five years, Trackmasters hosted sessions for dozens of outstanding clients,” Robby Takac says. “We cut a lot of our work here, and artists ranging from Ani Difranco to The Flaming Lips, Yes and Barenaked contributed to a legacy of outstanding credits. In the late 1990’s the studio was vacated and fell into disrepair.
“Today, after nearly a decade of silence, we’ve re-occupied this classic space, and with the cooperation and blessings of Trackmaster alumnae Mike Sak, Alan Baumgardner, and Kim Ferullo, we are committed to breathing new life into this iconic Buffalo recording studio.
“We will be making the studio available to outside dates when we’re not using it for our own projects,” Takac concludes. “As long as we like you, if we’ve got the time, you’re more than welcome.”