SALISBURY — Passersby on Salisbury’s Downtown Plaza may not realize that a recording studio lies behind the large glass panes that showcase a clean room with a white couch and a shelf.
However, West Main Recording has been open in that location for about a year and a half.
Garrett Davis signed the lease on the recording studio in February 2011 and started working out of the space that June. Most of the bands he’s worked with aren’t local — he estimated about 75 percent are not from this area — but he said he wants to work with more local artists who would work well with him.
Most of his work is rock, metal, pop rock or Christian rock; he doesn’t do a lot of hip-hop or R&B.
“I do want to kind of raise the standard for local artists,” said Davis, who’s also a local — he was in bands locally and graduated from Mardela Middle and High School in 2004.
While he said every step of the process is important, one thing he spends a lot of time on is the drums, because that can show the quality of the recording and be “the right backbone for the song.”
Davis said he doesn’t like to rush things, and he doesn’t have an hourly rate. Artists come in for at least a four-hour session, and he said educating bands on the process is a big part of his job.
“Doing it the right way and kind of appreciating the process allows people to be more creative,” Davis said.
Jared Rittenhouse and the other members of Salisbury-based The Stand, a Christian rock band, were looking for something more professional after recording a demo somewhere else two years ago.
Rittenhouse knew of Davis, and after running into him, The Stand decided to go to West Main Recording, where Davis has worked with them on two singles.
“Here, it’s not just come in and record your songs,” said Rittenhouse, who normally sings and plays the acoustic guitar, but also sings and does drum tracks in the recording studio.
Rittenhouse said it’s almost like a band practice because Davis works with the band members, critiquing songs and changing parts. And, Rittenhouse said, Davis cares about whether the band likes how the song turns out.
“Our success is his success, basically,” Rittenhouse said.
The Stand is planning on beginning a full project that will incorporate the singles.
Inspiring bands to create their albums the right way is important to Davis.
“Making it a certain quality and something they can be proud of is my goal,” he said.
‘Reward is worth the risk’
Davis got his start on the production side of music in Nashville, where he moved in 2006 after dropping out of Salisbury University, where he was majoring in business. He started out working in information technology, and later got involved in the production side.
In 2008, he returned to the Salisbury area and about a year later, he had a space downtown near the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce.
He assisted Jeff Juliano, who mixes songs for nationally known artists, which led to more gigs for Davis.
Davis has been credited on the albums of many artists, among them Kutless, Hey Monday, Straight No Chaser, Matthew Morrison, David Archuleta, Hannah Montana (Miley Cyrus) and Train, according to a link on his website.
He also has a Recording Industry Association of America-certified gold plaque for Shinedown’s “Somewhere in the Stratosphere” CD and DVD box set, according to his website. The gold record is displayed in the hallway of the studio, along with framed displays of other CDs that he has worked on.
Davis flew to Seattle to record Shinedown’s live show with about three days’ notice, and was underneath the stage to get the recording. He said he was nervous, but his work there led to more gigs from them.
With the Internet, it’s not hard to take on from work from any location, and he can also be can be in several major cities in less than four hours: New York City, Richmond, Virginia Beach, Baltimore, Washington and Philadelphia, he said.
Davis also said he loves Salisbury, and the downtown location allows him to do his part in revitalizing the arts in the area.
In addition to running West Main Recording, Davis also teaches Pro Tools classes at SU and does contracting and engineering for outside artists.
While more music is being consumed, Davis said, it’s a tough time for the music industry because not as many people buy CDs.
“There’s a lot of risk involved, but that reward to me is worth more than the risk,” he said.