Nathan Adamson got some devastating news Monday. Ferralog Recording Studios, the studio he has invested many hours and dollars in for the last seven years, is in danger of closing if he doesn’t find a new investor in time. If a new one does not appear between now and Monday, Dec. 17, it will be another Deep Ellum memory.
The space, which also houses Adamson’s record label Four Reelz Records, was not made with an escape plan, according to the founder.
Record labels, if they want to be more than a simple DIY affair, need investors. Despite having investors in the past, Adamson needs a new one in place to continue. Ferralog needs capital in an industry that is not typical or easily compared with other industries.
“Record labels are not a traditional profit-and-loss business,” Adamson says via phone.
Ferralog, which is on Main Street between Malcolm X and Crowdus, has been in business since April 2012. Adamson and his son Nash Griggs have recorded their own bands the Jack Kerowax and Omicron J Trauma at the studio, as well as many other local bands like Dead Flowers, Party Static and Goodnight Ned.
As someone who has worked in practically every angle of the music business, Adamson envisioned his space as a place for a band to work on their material and record it and then have his label release it nationally. The emphasis is on bands to come in and make an exceptional document of great songs using a vintage mixing desk, tape machines and microphones.
Ferralog is not a place for an artist with some so-so songs hoping to sound good because of ProTools. This is a place for a band to come to grips with what works and what doesn’t in the recording process. So far, they’ve made marketable records that get played on the radio.
“Making records, to me, is not a process of addition,” Adamson says. “It’s a process of subtraction. The only problem is, with some people, if you subtract everything that doesn’t sound good, you’re gonna be left with nothing at all. And that’s a really hard thing to face.”
One of the most promising acts to record there is Omicron J Trauma, who have a phenomenal take on power pop and have a lot of traction thanks to regular plays on KXT-FM. With Ferralog's goal of creating a hit factory with the studio/label under one roof, many other bands could follow suit if the studio stays in business.
The studio/label space is working out for the artists they work with, but to potential investors who don’t know the ins and outs of the music industry, they don’t really get the struggle of what’s going on here. Adamson has had many investors interested, but they back out at the last possible minute.
“The frustrating thing about trying to find investors in a town like Dallas is you have to explain the music business in sort of a kindergarten fashion, because people just don’t know how the music business works,” Adamson says.
When he thought he had a stable backer to help keep the business afloat in perpetuity, he agreed to a new lease that doubled their previous rent. With the backer not following through, Ferralog found itself in the hole. As much as the building’s landlord has been incredibly fair, understanding and nice about being behind on rent, time has run out and a miracle is needed.
In recent years, the studio had also been used for an Adidas commercial with Dak Prescott as well as an episode of Queen of the South.
Adamson wants a happy ending here, and he doesn’t want to move elsewhere. He wants to stay put, even though his landlord has shown the place to potential new tenants. Deep Ellum is the perfect location, and the hit factory goal wouldn’t really work in Garland or Plano.
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“We’ll probably just go to another town,” Adamson says if Ferralog does close. “This town has a lot of potential. But to be honest, it’s extremely disappointing. I can’t really explain how disappointing it is to be doing this thing for all of these years to feel like I’m talking to a brick wall. I don’t really know what to do.”
With all sorts of recording equipment and music gear housed in Ferralog, there’s no telling what could be done with all of that unless a new investor arrives from the heavens.
“To be honest with you, I haven’t really thought about that because I’m not planning on that happening,” Adamson says. “I’m trying to use whatever means I have to get this done and to get people to understand what’s at stake here.”
Ferralog Recording Studios, 2815 Main St., 720-470-1884