Elgin’s favorite sons, The Brokedowns, recorded a live performance last month at Live! from The Rock Room. This is the first video to be released from the session, and features the band performing their song “Life Is a Breeze,” the title track from their most recent album. We recently caught up with the man behind Live! from The Rock Room, Mike Felumlee, to discuss his motivations for this project. We talked about how he got things off the ground, some of the Rock Room’s unique features, where he hopes to see this endeavor in the future and more.
According to Felumlee, the notion for this venture came to him not long after practicing in the space several times with his own bands, The Smoking Popes and The Bigger Empty. “I got the idea for this project during the first couple of rehearsals my bands had in the room. I wasn’t sure exactly what it would be at all, but just from jamming in there I knew it would be a great room for recording a band live,” he said. “I think initially I was just thinking of doing some live recordings of my own bands and posting them on our YouTube and Facebook channels. Then I figured that might get a little boring, so why not invite a bunch of other bands to come in for sessions?” Felumlee’s next step was to go about constructing the room, which is located inside his west suburban home. He enlisted the help of Bigger Empty drummer Kevin Baschen, who also happens to be an electrician. Felumlee and his wife Stephanie assisted in building the acoustic panels and before long the space was complete.
When asked about the Rock Room’s distinctive attributes, Felumlee said “In terms of what we’re producing, I think the size and look of the room are fairly unique. It’s also one of the few live video channels where the artists aren’t wearing headphones in the videos. We have the band set up just like they would for a rehearsal and I have a little PA system that we use for vocal monitors. You get a little bit of bleed from that into the mics, but I think it’s worth it to be able to see the band play without headphones. I think the artists are more comfortable playing that way too.” Another key aspect is the room’s location in the Chicagoland area, as there’s a surplus of quality local bands, as well as many touring acts that frequently come through town. For out-of-state bands, the goal is to do their shoot during the day so that they can still make their show in the city the same night.
In regards to what’s been most rewarding about this project so far, Felumlee said “It’s been awesome just being able to meet and become friends with so many people that we probably wouldn’t have met otherwise. All the bands that have come through so far have been full of incredible people and we love that we’re able to be part of helping them share their music and grow their fan base.” When addressing future plans, Felumlee added “Our long-term, ultimate goal is to figure out a way for this to become an additional income stream for the artists. We haven’t nailed down exactly how that’s going to work yet, but we have a few ideas we’re working on. It’s just so hard for artists to earn enough money to keep making records and touring. When we had the idea to create this channel, one of our main goals was to help the bands and artists we love in any way we could.” He continued, “In the short-term, we’re going to keep focusing on putting out great looking and sounding videos from amazing bands. We’re steadily releasing two videos per week on our YouTube channel. The videos keep getting better and the audience is growing. We’re going to stay focused on building the audience for our channel and for the artists that we do sessions with.” Felumlee concluded the conversation by mentioning that Live! from The Rock Room is one of the sponsors of this year’s Fest in Gainesville, FL. They’ll be on location with a merch table and giveaways, so those in attendance should certainly stop by and check out what they have to offer.