Engineer Robert Root (seated at the API console) works with members of Imagine Dragons: Dan Reynolds (rear, in blue T-shirt), Ben McKee (foreground) and Wayne Sermon in Battle Born Studio A.
Engineer Robert Root began his recording career as an intern at Pat Amico's Studio Vegas, a longtime commercial facility with a steady clientele and comfortable relationships with the Las Vegas music community. Targeting Studio Vegas didn't begin as an especially inspired choice by Root. He needed to fulfill an internship requirement to complete his program at the Conservatory of Recording Arts in Mesa, Ariz., where he grew up.
“I figured Vegas is the entertainment capital of the world, and close enough to home where if it didn't work out, I could easily pack up and head back home,” he explains. “So I randomly chose a studio that had a little bit of exposure online.”
Root's casual approach was fortuitous. A couple of months after he finished his internship, the chief engineer quit and Amico hired Root full-time. “It immediately threw me into the fire,” Root says, “and that's how I started running the place, almost fresh out of school.”
Root served as chief engineer of the two-studio facility for about five years — working with clients from Wayne Newton to Layzie Bone of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, and running a studio education program for at-risk teens — until he was asked to become chief engineer at SonSongs, another local facility. But while Root was settling in at SonSongs, Amico cut a deal to sell Studio Vegas to The Killers.
“The bandmembers asked Pat if he knew someone who knew the studio well and could wire it up for what they wanted and could get along with everybody, and he was kind enough to give me the good word,” Root says.
Root was brought on in time to help whip the studios into shape and record most of the band's 2008 release, Day and Age. Changes to the studio include aesthetic improvements and installing a new API 1608 console. “I had no experience on it — it was a brand-new console at the time — but I knew I was in love with the sound of API's products,” Root says. “Everybody who has worked in our ‘A’ room agrees it sounds amazing. It has such a small footprint that it almost takes you off guard when that big of a sound comes out.”
Most of the recording at the renamed Battle Born Studios (www.battlebornstudios.com) is done in Logic Pro Version 9. The facility includes a smaller B studio attached to a small live performance room that serves as the home of the studio's most recent acquisition: a baby grand piano purchased from S0nSongs. The large tracking room connected to Studio A is used for drums and live band recording. Control room A includes a pair of Westlake BBSM-10 main monitors that are original to the studio, and Yamaha NS-10 and Focal Twin 6 near-fields.
In addition to The Killers' projects, Battle Born is now bookable for outside clients. Since the studio changed hands in 2008, visitors have included Elton John, Canadian singer/songwriter Kalsey Kulyk, Iowa band the Envy Corps and locals the Imagine Dragons.
“I think that the reason there has been a shift to alternative rock projects at Battle Born has been because of word of mouth, now that the studio is associated with The Killers,” Root observes. “We're all kind of living in that world right now.”