Converse Rubber Tracks has a new address. The music program for independent musicians has opened a third permanent location near Converse’s newly-opened Boston headquarters, adding to the flagship in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood, and a second location in Sao Paolo, Brazil, which opened earlier this year.
In the four years since its initial founding, Rubber Tracks studios have hosted over 1,000 artists for free, state-of-the-art recording sessions both in its permanent locations and global pop-ups in over a dozen cities. Last month, the program announced a partnership with 12 iconic studios, including L.A.’s Sunset Sound and London’s Abbey Road.
“Our goal with our Converse Rubber Tracks recording studios is to provide opportunities that are incredibly useful to emerging bands, knowing that one of the hardest obstacles for musicians starting out is affording quality studio time,” says Jed Lewis, Converse’s global music marketing director. “With Converse Rubber Tracks officially in Boston permanently, we’re excited to offer artists that same unique resource in a city the brand proudly calls home.”
Though Converse has commissioned original songs from superstar acts like Pharrell Williams, Julian Casablancas and Santigold in 2008, Andre 3000, Gorillaz and James Murphy in 2012 and Diplo, Frank Ocean and The Clash’s Mick Jones and Paul Simonon in 2014, Lewis has other ambitions for the acts who come through Rubber Tracks’ doors. The platform is not designed “for emerging artists to become famous,” he says, “but to provide emerging acts key resources they may not otherwise have access to. While we’re thrilled to see many Converse Rubber Tracks bands recognized for their talent, success for the program is measured by what we’re able to accomplish during their time with us in the studio.”
Adds Evan Kenney, studio manager for the Boston location, “We don’t influence the direction of their sound but try to make sure we capture the sound they are looking for. In terms of bands that haven’t recorded before, we’ll provide a recommendation on how they should record, whether it’s all together in the sound booth or isolating different instruments.”
However, some recent Rubber Tracks alums have already gotten the chance to play music alongside some of their heroes. To celebrate Converse’s new global headquarters in Boston, Rubber Tracks held a week of free concerts at The Sinclair in Cambridge where indie acts The Young Leaves, Radclyffe Hall, Rozamov, Michael Christmas and Bent Shapes opened for headliners like The Replacements, Passion Pit, Slayer, Chance The Rapper and Descendents.
Dhy Berry of Boston-based electro-pop act Radclyffe Hall says, prior to Rubber Tracks, “I’d always been complaining about the fact that Boston doesn’t have a music scene. I think it’s really important that we have this company behind us, making the music scene kind of happen in a way that we can keep people here instead of New York, Los Angeles or Nashville.”
Berry, who had recorded primarily “in my room” before applying for a Rubber Tracks session, will include two tracks her band recorded at the studio on Radclyffe Hall’s debut EP for Cleopatra Records this October. “Especially being a new band, it helps to have studio-quality recordings to get your name out there. I hope other artists who apply get to do something with the time they’ve spent.”