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$10,000 in Gear Stolen from Indie Recording Mainstay Inner Ear Studio

By Clive Young. A pillar of punk and indie recording, Inner Ear Studio lost an estimated $10,000 in specific gear to a discerning thief.

Arlington, VA (July 26, 2019)—A mainstay of Washington, DC’s punk/indie scene since the 1970s, Inner Ear Studio was burgled on Wednesday, July 17, with a selective thief making off with what owner Don Zientara estimated was $10,000 in recording equipment.

Zientara told local radio station WTOP that based on the equipment stolen, he suspected the thief wasn’t grabbing random gear to sell, but instead specific items to use in their own studio. While he hadn’t finished taking inventory at the time, he told the station, “What they took from me is one very good tube vocal microphone—a Telefunken AR-51 tube condenser—and they took several microphone preamplifiers which were some of the best in the industry.”

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Zientara told that a power supply was missing, too, but also noted that some potentially high-dollar items like computers were left untouched. The building’s landlord first alerted Zientara that the studio had been broken into—the lock to the front door had brazenly been ripped out and a car was spotted by the rear door with its trunk open. While the landlord got photos of the car, it eventually turned out the vehicle had stolen license plates on it.

Zientara founded the studio in his basement in the late 1970s, and in the years that followed, the facility became a key part of the region’s punk/indie scene, recording acts like Teen Idles, Minor Threat, Bad Brains, Fugazi and numerous groups on Dischord Records.

Inner Ear moved to its current Arlington, VA home in 1989, and over time has hosted the likes of Vic Chesnutt, Shudder to Think, Betty, Bob Mould, Jimmy Eat World, Grouplove, The Untouchables, Slickee Boys, Bikini Kill, Me Without You, OAR, Keane, Jets to Brazil, Braid, Secret Machines, Velocity Girl, The Get Up Kids, The Walkmen, The Promise Ring, Girls Against Boys and hundreds of others. Additionally, the facility was featured in an episode of Foo Fighters’ 2014 HBO series, Sonic Highways, as the band recorded “The Feast and the Famine” there and band leader Dave Grohl extensively interviewed Zientara.

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Undeterred by the break-in, Zientara was back to recording last weekend, and half-joked to WTOP that the robbery could have been worse: “Some of our most important pieces are just too heavy to carry out because they’re old, analog pieces. We’re lucky in that respect.”

Inner Ear Studio •