The dorm room is filled with couches, food, posters, dirty socks, and four guys.
What is the cleanest part of the dorm? The bathroom. Because when it is not fulfilling its main function, the Kennedy 321/323 suite’s bathroom is a recording studio.
The group of sophomore Belmont students, audio engineering technology majors Ian Brown and Greg “Chops” Noetzel, music business major Derek Johnson, and commercial music percussion major Jason Simmons, bring in musical artists along with their instruments, invite them to take a seat on the royal throne and record sweet tunes.
“It’s good music in the bathroom,” said Brown.
They started these unorthodox recording sessions in their Belmont home, Kennedy Hall. All this goes down in the bathroom because it’s cool; it’s something different, Johnson said. Other than that, there’s not much more explanation.
The four guys stay within the rules of dorm life and money is not part of the fun. With a campus full of musicians paying a hefty tuition, booking studio time may be out of reach for some. If a fancy location isn’t a deal breaker, the toilet may be the perfect place to record.
As far as music goes, the guys are open to anything, just so long the sound is unique and lively, said Brown.
Originally, they started out asking people if they wanted to record with them, but as they have gained popularity, the guys are being sought out by musicians who want to record in the loo.
They look the demos over all together because “everything is done as a group,” Noetzel said.
The Bathroom Sessions is getting so many interests the guys can’t say yes to everyone.
“I feel like sometimes we tell people no because we’ve had a lot of similar things,” Brown said of the past demos the group turned down.
Belmont sophomore Morgan Bosman never sent in a demo. Brown came to her.
“Ian asked me to do it and I was like ‘heck yeah’,” Bosman said.
She was happy to go in, and it was a more intimate performance, she said.
Unlike most recording sessions, it concluded with an applause and a flush.
Neo soul and gospel artist Bosman casually walked out of the tight recording quarters after singing and playing her arrangement of “R.I.P.” by Rita Ora.
She played at Curb Café earlier the same month and has done traditional studio recording as well. This was a lot different, she said.
“Well, I was on a toilet,” Bosman said. “It‘s smaller, but actually really comfortable.”
So many people know about The Bathroom Sessions because of Facebook, and she thinks it’s because they are consistent with their uploads and updates.
One thing The Bathroom Sessions could not do without is social media. Facebook and YouTube are their main platforms. The sessions did not have a Twitter account until recently.
“I’ll get on that right now,” Simmons said, as he opened up Twitter on his laptop.
They are really pumped because “we are getting “likes” on our Facebook page from people we do not know,” Johnson said.
Most of the feedback is for the artists. It is the artists’ music that people come to the Facebook page to hear. The Bathroom Sessions would love to get some big names on its toilet. The band Coin, bands from Best of the Best Showcases and of course Beyoncé are on the guys’ wish list.
Their history so far has been eventful. Belmont University commercial music major Peter Ferguson dropping his pick in toilet has been one of the best memories, Noetzel said.
They have had an array of sounds as well: Fable Cry’s violin and bow to Bosman’s jazzy keyboard to Jordan Ruiz’s good old acoustic sounds.
Having lots of instruments and people makes for a full sound, but also a full bathroom. Limited space is one of the drawbacks to their location.
They’ve thought about expanding to the shower, but they have to take into account things like camera angles, said Johnson and Noetzel. Seeing the artist is more important than seeing the shower head.
For now, The Bathroom Sessions is staying put. But next year, the four guys won’t all be living together.
“We’re still going to keep doing this,” Noetzel said. “It just won‘t be in that bathroom stall.”
“It‘ll be in a different bathroom,” Johnson said.
“We’ll keep on going as long as we can. We don’t have huge plans,” said Johnson.
Since starting a Facebook page Dec. 6, 2012, The Bathroom Sessions has had 11 sessions so far, 239 Facebook page likes, and there are many more to come.
The Bathroom Sessions