Over the past 15 years or so, Atlanta and it’s surrounding areas have cultivated a healthy metal scene, with Kylesa, Baroness, Royal Thunder, Black Tusk coming from the general vicinity. Hell, you could even throw Attila in there. The biggest success story though, is Mastodon. And while they’ve definitely turned into one of the most popular touring metal bands of the last decade, they’re still loyal to the city that spawned them, appearing in commercials for their local bars, and appearing in drag to help out another band, the Coathangers. However, now they’re giving back to Atlanta in the best way possible – by opening Ember City, a rehearsal facility.
The band just purchased the former Othello Even Hall at in Atlanta’s West End that they’re working on turning into a place that will house about 20 individual rehearsal spots. Mastodon are filling a need that arose after two rehearsal studios, Thunderbox and Avatar Studios, closed last year. Guitarist Bill Kelliher is overseeing the project. He says that before Thunderbox closed, he’d foreseen it happening. Speaking to Creative Loafing, he says:
Even before it went away, I could see it coming from miles away — years beforehand. So I started looking at buildings, but it never came to anything mostly because of time. I tour a lot. Now I’m home and the time is right for me to get all of this wrapped up. There’s such an opportunity here, and there’s a lot of need for it. I’m sure I’m not the only person who’s thinking about this, so I’m willing to bet we will see more places like this coming up in the future. But I want to make mine a little more special. Mastodon will be here. We’ll have our name attached to it, which is a really cool thing. We draw a lot of water in this town, I guess. So for whatever that’s worth, I like to use that to interact with people — musicians.
The band closed on Ember City on Saturday, and Kelliher says that there’s already heard from about 30 bands since writing about it on his Facebook page. In addition to rehearsal studios, he’d like to have rooms for artists as well, to build a sense of community. He’s hoping to have the facility open by the Summer, and afterwards, they’ll possibly build a deck, a basketball court, a garage, a pool table, and more. His long term plans include potentially building a recording studio for Mastodon, and while the whole band is in on the idea, he’s spearheading it:
Yes, this is a Mastodon-owned building. I’ve just spearheaded the whole thing. I’ve been on the frontline, and it’s been my dream for many, many years. I know the guys in the band have always wanted to do the same thing. We all tend to agree when it comes to a vision, and a lot of other things. We’re all good friends, and we all see eye-to-eye. When I brought this idea to them everyone was like, “Hell yeah, this is a great idea.” But I’ve been steering the ship in terms of finding the building and going through all of the legwork. I will continue to do that until we get our first tenant in here.
Good on Kelliher and Mastodon for giving back to the community. And if you’re a musician or artist in Atlanta looking for a place to jam, keep Ember City in mind.