Rick Loughman sits comfortably in his big black office chair behind the glass window that peers into a retro recording studio. He plays with the knobs on his monitor, adjusting the levels so he can hear more guitar and less drums. He presses play and his eyes become focused, watching and listening for sound waves to enter the air.
Loughman is a producer and audio engineer at the Sauce Pot recording studio. It’s a warehouse off of Tank Farm Road full of rehearsal rooms created by his seven-person hip hop jazz collective Wordsauce. It was originally designed to avoid noise violations from practicing in San Luis Obispo neighborhoods.
After graduating with an audio recording degree from California State University, Dominguez Hills, Loughman recorded, mixed and mastered for local bands practicing in the Sauce Pot’s studios. However, because he didn’t have professional equipment, Loughman avoided advertising his services. That changed this past December, when the Sauce Pot got an upgrade— a brand new recording studio.
The studio is equipped with several microphones and a large band area. With the upgrade, the studio has three isolated sound rooms, which make it easier to record individual channels of audio without other instruments bleeding together. For example, an amplifier for a guitar would record in one isolated room, while an amplifier for the bass would be in another.
Loughman said the addition of the studio will attract more artists and increase revenue for the Sauce Pot.
“We don’t make that much, but it puts us one step closer to making a living off of making music,” Loughman said.
Once the new studio was built, new bands quickly began recording at the Sauce Pot.
Wordsauce has been performing around the Central Coast for several years and made connections within the San Luis Obispo music scene.
“The biggest reason why we’ve had so much success, is because we are musicians ourselves,” Wesley Price, Wordsauce’s bassist, said. “We are passionate and so deep in the local music scene. We are just chill guys [who] do good shit.”
Wordsauce is propelling their music with the new studio while also working alongside local artists.
“That’s another reason why people come back,” Loughman said. “We are transparent. We are trying to promote our music, Wordsauce, too.”
Loughman said he hopes to make an album out of Wordsauce’s random rehearsals one day. But when he’s working with clients, he listens to their specific requests and develops their distinct sound.
“Before I start shooting out my every thought, I like to feel the person out, see how they work,” Loughman said. “I don’t want to force my opinion on them. It is my duty as a producer to make the session as efficient as possible.”
Loughman also allows bands to try new techniques in the studio, something that might not fly at big name recording studios in Los Angeles or San Francisco. Aerospace engineering senior Will Sutton said his band, Up! Way Up!, was able to freely experiment when they recorded their newest EP at the Sauce Pot.
“The best part about our recording session was being able to bring all of our friends in and record a vocal chant,” Sutton said. “Rick set up a bunch of microphones. That kind of experience would only be able to happen in that type of environment.”
The studio has provided lasting relationships between the local bands that record at the Sauce Pot. The Bogeys, Up! Way Up! and Explode the Machine formed relationships after long days of recording.
Loughman said there’s often a lot of deep breaths and hugs between band members and the producers after a recording is complete. According to Loughman, working on the Central Coast is a dream turned into reality for the members of Wordsauce.
“We don’t want to have to go to [Los Angeles] or [San Francisco] to make it big,” Loughman said. “We want to stay right here. We want to make the Central Coast a big pond for musicians.”