Nashville, TN (October 6, 2020)—The Grip II has been the home of countless recording projects and sessions since award-winning studio designer and monitoring expert Carl Tatz built the two-room facility for Jay DeMarcus, co-founder of country music trio Rascal Flatts, more than a decade ago. The studio will likely stay busy for a long time to come, too. In January, Rascal Flatts marked their 20th anniversary with the announcement of a farewell tour, since cancelled due to COVID-19, giving DeMarcus plenty of time to focus on his new independent Christian music label, Red Street Records, and other projects.
“We have been recording stuff for the label,” confirms Nick Lane, De- Marcus’ go-to engineer since 2013, “but he’s also been really cool about other producers, players and songwriters booking sessions. For the last four or five years, we did a lot of songwriter demos. Two or three years ago, we probably cranked out close to 1,000 songs a year—18 demos a day, three or four times a week.” Since May, following the coronavirus lockdown, DeMarcus, a producer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, has been working on an album with one of his new label signings, Lane adds.
The facility is in the basement of the DeMarcus family home. “I designed the whole thing, including the entrance and the driveway,” says Tatz. “They had such faith in me.” Indeed, Tatz even helped the family decide which of the two houses they were considering buying would best accommodate the planned studio. “It’s very flattering that Jay has always valued my opinion,” he says.
Their relationship goes back to 2006, when Tatz designed and built The Grip I in a previous house. Tatz has also built a home production facility for another Rascal Flatts cofounder, guitarist Joe Don Rooney.
Carl Tatz Design control rooms have a signature look, typically featuring a wall of alternating floor-to-ceiling glass and acoustic treatment, which Tatz calls an Acoustic Lens. “My general philosophy is to make the back of the room completely dead, the ceiling completely dead— all absorptive—and make the sides a combination of reflective and absorptive; diffusive.”