Courtesy of Pixabay

Drum Box Offers Drummers A Musical Haven


Playing a set of acoustic drums massages the most primal part of the human brain and has been doing so ever since the first caveman or cavewoman stretched an animal skin over a hollowed-out log. It’s a deeply satisfying feeling.


Drumming can also make your family, roommates, houseguests and pets start to hate you.


In short, acoustic drums are very loud. And they take up a lot of space. If you live in an apartment, forget about it. Buy a kazoo.


Hold on, just a minute. Jake Schell, owner of Drum Box, has a solution. He’s retrofitted old walk-in ATM spaces in Longmont and Lafayette where customers can come and play a full-sized acoustic drum set without the police showing up. He keeps the drums in working order and tuned up, so people can drop in and out for a half-hour or hour-long session.


“The idea came to me from having a long, long history of not being able to play my drums where I live,” Schell says. “Living in apartments, or condos or that sort of thing. Having roommates who didn’t want the noise or living in places that were too small to set up drums and just all those limiting factors.”


Schell picked up his first drum set when he was eight years old and has played for more than 30 years. Strides have been made with electric drums in recent years, and there is something to be said for picking up a set and playing through headphones. But there is nothing like the feel of acoustic drums. And he’s tried. Schell went out and bought a high-end set of electronic drums. It just wasn’t the same.


Photo courtesy of Drum Box


“I got what, at the time, was the best electronic drum set,” he says. “It was a $6,000 drum set. And it was a lot of fun. It scratched the itch, but it was still nothing like playing real drums.”


Schell started to think that if he had the problem of nowhere to play an acoustic drum set, thousands of other drummers likely did, too. There are, of course, practice spaces that musicians can rent. But for someone who is not a professional musician, that can be intimidating and expensive.


“The cost was always a barrier,” he says. “But also knowing that I was going to have to go talk to some pro musician and say, ‘I’m here to play these drums’ and then feel nervous about what I was playing and being judged because they are right there in the other room.”


For a time, he toyed with the notion of a mobile drum studio that he could haul from location to location, but the idea proved impractical. At the time, Schell worked at a coffee shop and noticed an empty ATM building nearby that had sat vacant for a couple of years. He finally hit pay dirt and opened the Lafayette location in June of 2019. In May of 2021, he opened a second location in Longmont. He completely renovated both locations.


“Each location has two drum sets, cymbals, sticks, even headphones, absolutely everything you need to be able to walk in and play,” he says. “But people are welcome to bring their own gear. It’s really common.”


Sessions are booked by the half-hour and hour, and longer sessions can be arranged with Schell on a case-by-case basis, for example, if someone wants to book an entire day. He hopes to open more locations and is currently in the process of making that a reality. As far as he knows, Schell is the only person with a business like Drum Box.


“I work with a lot of people in the industry now,” he says. “I have partnerships for drums and cymbals and sticks and everything. There are a lot of people I’ve talked to who have decades in the drum industry. So far, everyone continues to say they haven’t heard of anything like this.”


Photo courtesy of Drum Box


Sessions are scheduled online, and users obtain a unique door code, which Schell hopes offers a convenient way to set up a session and hit the skins. In a COVID world, that’s a convenience that a lot of people look for.


“A lot of people would prefer to just not have to deal with anyone,” he says. “So I set it up so you can do that at the Drum Box. You book your session online and you never really have to have any kind of communication with anyone else.”


Lafayette resident Pete Lewis is an electrical engineer by trade but music is one of his passions. He once played guitar in a band called Storytyme that saw some success locally, including an opening slot for blues rockers Blind Melon.


Lewis has a drum kit at his house, but it’s not always convenient to play because he has a wife and kid at home. His wife is also a musician, so she is sympathetic to his plight, to a point. Drums are louder than a cello, much louder, after all. He’d been jonesing to play drums and guitar at full volume for quite a while. He had passed by the Lafayette Drum Box and finally decided to give it a try. He’s become a regular customer.


Photo courtesy of Drum Box


“You’re in your own little private world there,” Lewis says. “I love that. There’s something pretty special about having that privacy and having your own little spot to make all the mistakes and practice something 30 times in a row if you want and not having anyone listening.”


Lewis says he’s been scheduling sessions about once a week since he started going. It’s become a family affair of sorts, and he sometimes takes his son along for lessons.


“He hears me talk about how much I love it and he’s like ‘I want to come and try it, too,’” Lewis says. “It’s nice. There’s a three-quarter size set in there for him, although we did about half and half. He likes the full-sized set. There are more cymbals.”


He adds that he has taken his guitar to the Drum Box on one occasion and hopes to do that more in the future as he’s getting back into recording his original music. He sometimes records some guitar and takes it to space to play drums along to it.


Photo courtesy of Drum Box


Currently, Schell focuses on drums exclusively, for economic reasons, but people can bring in their big loud guitar amps, keyboards, whatever. People will bring in guitar, bass and keyboard rigs so they can play together as a group. Quite a few bands have used the space, he says.


“I’ve got someone at the Longmont location who does voice lessons online,” he says. “They just use it as a private place to be able to sing as loud as they want without bothering anyone.”


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