Tuscaloosa welcomes opening of new recording studio


Laura Testino

Opportunity often nestles in unexpected times and places. The Druid City Time & Spaceship, for example, a newly functioning recording studio just outside the city of Tuscaloosa, is tucked away on a wooded path that opens to reveal the muted green building on a 40-acre plot of land.

Jacob Thompson, musician and studio owner, refers to his studio as a “happy accident” and a “labor of love” that became possible after meeting his wife and receiving the land as a gift from her family.

“It’s as much by accident as by plan. I’m fond of saying every moment is the summation of history,” Thompson said.

Thompson operated Green Pyramid, a recording studio in Tuscaloosa, from 1996 to 2001, before leaving Alabama for jobs in both New York City and New Orleans. He returned to Alabama after Hurricane Katrina, and began constructing Druid City Time & Spaceship as part of his new home.

“The blueprint of that was simply for me to impress myself with it – to make it where I would want to record,” he said.

Thompson came back to Tuscaloosa and crafted a studio where the audio appeals can be both seen and heard through visual elements and the wide array of gear.

“This room in particular, it’s meant to tempt you. It’s meant to go, ‘Wow, I’ve never seen one of those before,’ and there’s a reason you would come here,” Thompson said.

He also crafted the console, a combination of Neve and Solid State Logic pieces that sits in the middle of the Spaceship.

David Allen, a recent UA graduate and event coordinator at Green Bar, spends many hours at this console as an audio engineer.

“I see punk bands all the time that don’t have any music recorded for them, and I always wanted to be able to document it. It’s really nice to work as an enabler in that capacity, where you’re totally just in it with somebody helping them produce a great work that’s hopefully just as fantastic – the best they could possibly be,” he said.

Allen has most recently worked with the Dead Balloons, a band based in Birmingham. Band member Chris Seifert enjoyed the unconventional aspects of the location.

“I wanted the guitar to sound really large at one point in the song, to sound like it was going into outer space,” he said.

To accomplish this, the band relocated and recorded outside.

Thompson treasures the possibilities he finds in being completely surrounded by open land.

“Nothing’s more inspirational than nature … It’s quite an amenity,” he said.

Allen encouraged Seifert and his band to use this amenity a second time to overcome a roadblock with a song.

“[The Dead Balloons and I] went out and we took a long walk beside a creek in the middle of nowhere, and we got this idea for a xylophone overdub,” Allen said.

DC Moon, a band member of Mary Tylosaur, has been performing and recording with Tuscaloosa-based bands since the 1970s. He was impressed with the professional and relaxed atmosphere of the Spaceship after recording two songs there this past November.

“[Thompson] has worked in a lot of professional studios, and he’s been around for a long time. It’s really nice to have somebody who’s well versed in what musicians need in the studio,” Moon said.

Thompson enjoys having a creative job where his experience at work constantly changes.

“It’s always an adventure, it really is… Strangers show up at your house, and they invade your home, and you live with them and you have this intense period of creative activity, and then when it’s over they go away,” he said. “It’s this brief, intense encounter, and hopefully you’re left with some sort of souvenir out of it.”

Thompson encourages musicians to visit druidcityspaceship.org for further information and to view a full list of available gear at the Spaceship.