DEEDS: Audio Lab celebrates 20 years of making noise

It was a cool thought: To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Audio Lab recording studio, owners Steve Fulton and Pat Storey would create a T-shirt with the name of every band and solo performer who had recorded there.

“I actually went through and counted them,” Fulton says.

Somehow during party planning, cramming 450 names onto a Hanes Beefy-T didn’t emerge as a priority. The shirt never materialized.

“You cross off the stupid ideas first,” Fulton quips.

Yeah, but it would have made for a wicked bragging-rights document: 450. When it comes to gauging Audio Lab’s impact on Boise music over the years, that number says it all.

A handful of those musicians will perform at 8 p.m. Friday, May 18, at Visual Arts Collective (VaC), 3638 Osage St. in Garden City. The show is free and open to anyone 21 and older. The lineup: a.k.a. Belle, Ryan Bayne, El Dopamine and Lovesick.

Former Audio Lab co-owner Todd Dunnigan also will do a keyboard tribute to old-school Boise bands such as Built to Spill, Deep Down Trauma Hounds, Graveltruck and Doublewide. (That should be a trip — and not just down memory lane.)

From noon to 7 p.m. May 19, Audio Lab will open its doors to the all-ages public. Everyone is welcome to tour the studio and listen to live acoustic performances. There will be drawings for free studio time, concerts at Eagle River Pavilion and Rockstar MayhemFest.

Despite the fact that Audio Lab opened its new digs a year and a half ago in the VaC building, this weekend is being called a grand opening.

“I don’t really feel that I really have let people know about our new space,” Fulton explains.

Fulton and Dunnigan opened Audio Lab in a little house on Emerald Street back when Nirvana’s “Nevermind” was the biggest album in the world. In 1996, they moved the studio to its home for the next 14 years — next to Jay’s Pawn Shop on Chinden Boulevard.

When plans were hatched to open VaC, Fulton saw opportunity. He became a co-owner, relocating Audio Lab behind it. He and Storey built VaC’s sound system. They’ve recorded five live albums there. Occasionally, Audio Lab even serves as the “green room” for VaC shows. (Bruce Cockburn, for example.)

Like record stores, many recording studios have died off. Musicians often record themselves with little more than a laptop.

But Audio Lab has found a way to survive. And Fulton, as an engineer and producer, has found a way to enjoy the changes.

It’s common now for an album to be recorded partly at musicians’ homes, partly at Audio Lab. He is fine with that.

“When you start a project from the very beginning all the way to the end, it’s kind of fatiguing,” Fulton says. “At the end of it, you lose your perspective a little bit.”

“When it’s taken away from you and brought back, you have a different perspective and you’re not so worn out. And I actually love it.”

Fulton’s optimistic outlook is a huge part of what has made Audio Lab successful, musicians say. He is supportive, well ... “of everybody,” says El Dopamine singer-guitarist John O’Neil. “It’s genuine.”

Musician Tim Willis, who has known Fulton since the 1980s, says Fulton’s passion for recording musicians of wildly disparate genres and abilities is rare.

“I don’t know how he does it, but he’s sincere,” Willis says, chuckling. “When I talk to him, ‘Hey, what are you working on in the studio?’ — it could be some band influenced by Gwar! But yet he finds elements in that he can embrace.”

This weekend, it’s time to embrace the Lab. Online:

Latest Video Project



Film & Video

The soundtrack for the full-length motion picture "Not This Part of the World" was recorded entirely at the Audio Lab, and much of the on-location audio was recorded with the Audio Lab mobile recording unit. All sound-editing for the film was also completed at the Audio Lab.


After 19 years of doing business in Boise Idaho, Audio Lab has become well known for its work with many local, regional and national Rock, Hard Rock, heavy Metal, Ska, Rap, Hip-Hop, Dance, Industrial, Jazz, Fusion, country,  gospel and Bluegrass groups.

Mastering / Re-Mastering

Using DC ART digital audio restoration tools, the Audio Lab is able to convert old analog recordings to a cleaner, sharper digital sound. Remastering old recordings can make them sound truer to the original studio recording than ever before, leaving you with a beautiful recording.