When Phil Collins and his rock band Genesis prepared to go on tour last fall, they didn’t want to practice in just any old garage. They wanted something a bit nicer, a bit cleaner, a lot bigger-big enough, say, to hold Keith Richard’s drug paraphernalia or maybe Prince’s ego.
They chose the Studios in Las Colinas, which has become one of the most popular spots in the country for bands to get their acts together. In fact, studio production coordinator Jennifer Loeb estimates that 20 percent of her bookings for the cavernous Stage A go to big-time rock bands that use it for dress rehearsals.
All this started with SHOWCO Inc., a Dallas-based company that specializes in road concert production services. Four years ago. SHOWCO convinced Stevie Wonder to rehearse in the complex. Since then, more than a dozen acts ranging from David Bowie to Amy Grant have rehearsed in town. Genesis shot a Michetob commercial while working here. ZZ Top fine-tuned its show here between-try to picture this threesome-rounds of golf at a nearby country club. Julian Lennon practiced here while a sales training film was being shot in Stage B and live chickens were running around during a fried chicken shoot in Stage C.
Stage A is the music hall, and it’s huge-140 feet long. 104 feet wide, and 34 feet high. When the stage is empty, it’s as quiet as a rural cemetery. That’s what you get with thirty-inch-thick walls. But when Robert Plant is wailing away, Stage A is nearly loud enough to give hearing to the deaf.
Loeb says band members aren’t party animals at Las Col-inas. “They’re here to work,” she says, “and they really do work-hard.” SHOWCO president Wil Sharpe likens the musicians to lazy students. As he says, “It’s like doing a term paper. You don’t do anything until the last minute, and then you’ve really got to work.”
But these are rock stars. What about building bonfires out of sheet music? Trashing equipment? Drugs? More drugs? “Nobody has been a problem,” Loeb insists. “They’re all pretty normal, pretty calm, cool, and collected.”