Behind a drum set on Thursday morning, Jake Schell improvised a rhythm. As he played, the drummer didn’t have to miss a beat worrying about disturbing his neighbors with the sound.
Schell’s practice session took place inside a formerly vacant ATM walk-in building in Longmont, converted into a practice room and complete with a five-piece Ludwig-brand drum set, ear phones and sticks.
Schell is a Longmont resident and the owner and founder of Drum Box. He started the business in 2019 in Lafayette to address a critical problem for drum players: Where can a drummer play drums? For Schell, the answer was renovating vacant walk-in ATM buildings into haven where drummers can practice and play with abandon. Now, people who live in Longmont can join in the jam.
The Longmont Drum Box location, at 700 Ken Pratt Blvd., Building A, opened this month, marking the second Drum Box Schell has launched.
“Pretty much unanimously, people are like ‘Whoa, that’s a great idea,’” Schell said. “Drummers get really excited about it. It’s been really interesting, exciting and a point of pride. As far as I know, this is the first time anybody has done anything like this.”
Schell has been a drummer since he was 8 years old. Now 39, he said half his time as a drummer has been spent without the ability to play in his own home “for all the various reasons: space and the inability to make noise without making other people angry and annoyed.
“I always want to be able to play drums, at least every once in awhile,” Schell said. “But, I was unable to do that for several years in different scenarios of living in apartments and condos.”
Outside of hanging around the local music shop to play on their equipment or spending large amounts of money to rent a recording studio just to practice, there weren’t many options for Schell to play the drums.
“I kept trying to think, how could I get my fix playing drums?” Schell said. “If I have this problem, there are thousands of other drummers with the same problem.”
On his way to work in at his former job in coffee shop in Lafayette, Schell used to pass by a vacant ATM building. That’s when he realized the answer was staring him in the face. Schell contacted the property owner and eventually was able to lease the space. After some renovations, he opened his first Drum Box in July 2019 a roughly 130-square-foot building at 400 West South Boulder Road, Suite 1000 in Lafayette.
The Longmont location, which Schell is also leasing, is about 170-square-feet. It sat vacant for roughly 12 years, according to Schell. Now renovated, people who step inside will find a full 5-piece drum set, as well as a compact 4-piece drum set. There’s also an accessory board, where a set of drumsticks and ears phones are available for use.
Louisville drummer Nick Sheehan is among those who’s played at both the Longmont and Lafayette locations. Sheehan started playing drums when he was 11, but after moving to Colorado at 21, his living situation in apartments and the proximity of neighbors made it impossible for him to play drums for the first time in his life. Sheehan even asked those living nearby, trying to gauge a time when he might be able to practice, but the answer was always, “We would prefer if you didn’t” play the drums.
“I had dropped out of high school to play drums full time,” Sheehan said. “Only a couple of years after that it wasn’t an option. I just kind of thought it was something I used to do.”
In October last year, Sheehan was grabbing a coffee at a Lafayette shop, when he spotted the nearby Drum Box. The next day, he was seated behind the drums playing for the first time in five years.
“I’ve been shaking off the rust for the past couple months,” he said. Drum Box “has actually been a godsend. It’s been incredible.”
Sheehan has since been a regular at the Drum Boxes, playing at least once a week or every other week, but sometimes squeezing in two or three practice sessions in seven days. He’s also started reaching out to some fellow musicians with the hopes of jamming.
Schell recognized that drummers aren’t the only ones leaving their instruments silent because they don’t have a place to practice. He said he encourages other musicians to come and jam in the space. Drummers are also welcome to bring their own snares or other equipment that they want to use to make music.
Schell hasn’t stopped looking for other prospective locations to add more Drum Boxes. He said he’s particularly interested in renovating buildings in areas where there are lots of apartments and condos. The Drum Boxes have so far been busiest on the weekends, Schell said, with roughly 15 people booked between the two days at both locations.
To reserve a space, people can visit drumbox.space.
“My goal is to make it as accessible as possible,” Schell said. “If you just played Rock Band on PlayStation and you’re like ‘I want to play some real drums,’ you can walk in here, knowing nothing, having nothing and it’s all here for you.”
Want to jam?
What: Drum Box
Where: 700 Ken Pratt Blvd., building A in Longmont or 400 West South Boulder Road, Suite 1000 in Lafayette
When: The Longmont location is open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Sunday; the Lafayette location is open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Sunday
To reserve a space: Visit drumbox.space. Once registered, people will get an individualized code that they can use to enter the building.
Cost: $20 for 30 minutes; $30 for an hour and $50 for two hours; memberships are also available and offer the opportunity for half-price sessions