Hidden In The Rafters Of Starlab

By: Brian Yepez

Tucked away adjacently to an old radiator farm just over the overpass on prospect street across from the Dunkin’ Donuts lay the DIY space meant for great things.  Starlab in East Somerville Massachusetts houses touring bands and local acts regularly under the mere disguise of a recording studio by day, the night life is both impromptu and close knit.

So you miss it twice as you are driving.  You miss it once as you park the car so you tail the first person in a dead kennedys shirt you see walking in what you think is the right direction.  After you pass the radiator farm it becomes apparent that this is just the kind of place you want to house a show and recording studio.  No neighbors, no tenants, and plenty of coffee very nearby.  The corner parking lot was littered with Narragansett tall boys, punks and nerds alike all with the single minded goal of listening to good music, crowd surfing and destruction of property in some form or another.

First stop was to say hello to the former Ergs! drummer and vocalist Mikey [Erg] Yannich.  He is on tour playing guitar with the Dopamines after returning from his solo gig overseas not terribly recently, and seemed oddly at ease for the headlining spot plastered all over the doors which may have needed some repairs; “I used to not drink before shows with the Ergs! because I knew I was going to mess up sober. With these guys I could black out and still play great.” Yannich said.

Arcade machines stood as obelisks in the foyer letting one out run the fantasy police as we cheated the noise violations in reality, scrounging a few quarters maybe to keep the place running.  One player deemed a god after beating the entirety of the game.  The basement was dingy and smelt of rock shows which passed through about three months ago with the recording booth wafting out the scent of marijuana and long hours piecing together track after track of useful material.

It was loud, it was boisterous, it was ignorant, and it was cramped, but why would you come to a show not expecting these things.  Two long haired Bulgarians on holiday from their motherland showed up spontaneously after being invited by Justin Pino from Single Female Lawyer.  “I wrote the address on the back of a coaster while I was working, I didn’t expect these guys to actually show up, but it’s awesome to see.”

I had to post to my facebook a typical message to all of my friends where I stood and exactly what I thought.  The paragraph long synopsis I had in my brain numbed down to a simple sentence in the form of a letter; Dear New Jersey, this show is awesome.  Vacation from Cincinnati had the best energy and Awful Man from Texas had the best jokes.    Our twelve rack of Narragansett was nearing the cardboard upon the other side as the Dopamines took the carpet space.  Lights went out, people imitated drunken spider-men climbing in the rafters, and technical difficulties were running rampant.  The music never stopped though as someone always picked up the slack.

Starlab more than likely started as a simple idea of doing something simply for the sake of doing it.  We start bands for the same reason, it’s never about the money when it comes to this kind of music.  With the DIY scene in london on the fringes of defeat due to a wildfire, non-corporate recording studios have a fleeting moment in order to survive.  This is why a place like Starlab is so necessary;  You don’t need the most expensive guitars and fancy solos, it’s about how loud your amp can go and whether or not you can get kids to dance.  You do it for the need to be the music you want to hear and to stay away from what you might listen to on the radio.  Straying from the path is sometimes the one way you find your own and it makes all the difference.

The Dopamines

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