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Creative space rec room for rock

He calls it an adult Boys & Girls Club.

Brian Garth’s joking, kind of: the brightly colored walls, some turquoise, some candy-apple red (at least in the psychedelic restroom, watched over by a large mural of Jesus); the band gear set up in the main hall; the framed “Return of the Jedi” poster and black-and-white portrait of Michael Landon in the foyer — they all lend the place the equally homey and knowingly kitschy feel of a rock ‘n’ roll rec room as conceived by punks or art school grads or both.

It’s all tucked into a nondescript squat white building on the edges of the downtown arts district, nested between a bail bond business and a former meth clinic.

This new creative space, recently dubbed Chrome Werewolf (1329 Commerce St.), houses a recording studio and mastering suite, and could very well double as an art gallery upon occasion.

The dudes who run it, the aforementioned Garth, known for fronting Vegas indie rockers Black Camaro and being a go-to guy for local artists to record with, and Mike Lavin, a longtime studio presence in Vegas, have conceived of the spot as a place for Vegas acts to do pro-level recordings in a more loose, casual environment.

“We get the job done in here, that’s the thing,” says Garth, a good-humored, scruffy fella with a quick laugh. “A lot of people are tripped out when they go to these fancy schmancy places. They’re paying for overhead, really. They’re paying for the $20,000 wood floor.”

But whatever this place lacks in aesthetic appeal, it compensates with a more communal, welcoming feel to it. Since finding the spot in January, Lavin and Garth, who used to operate a studio near The Orleans for several years, have been joined by members of bands such as Big Friendly Corporation, The Clydesdale and Life’s Torment, who have donated time and equipment to refurbish the building.

“It’s kind of like a cool community project,” says Lavin, a music lifer who wears a guitar pick on a chain around his neck. “It’s almost like we’re the corner store. Everybody’s coming in to help it out.”

Garth and Lavin first met in the parking lot of Cheyenne High School during senior year, a decade and a half ago. Since then, they’ve played in bands together, recorded one another’s projects and have now parlayed all their years of experience in Vegas music circles into their biggest endeavor yet.

Garth already is working on the next Big Friendly Corporation record here, and Lavin recently finished up mastering the new disc from The Mad Caps.

And so while their surroundings may be humble, Garth and Lavin’s ambitions are less so.

“It may not be the prettiest thing in the town,” Lavin says, chuckling, glancing about the Chrome Werewolf control room, “but we’ll get you there. Fast.”

Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476.

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