By Maddelynne Parker
Tony Aguilar is a professional musician living in L.A. who not only fronts the band All Souls, but co-owns Eastside Rehearsal. Find out what inspired Aguilar to open a rehearsal studio and how he manages his time with both the band and the rehearsing space.
I was told you have a rehearsal studio, do you own it?
“Yeah, we do. When we moved to Los Angeles we were in Totimoshi and I ended up getting a job working for the Melvins as stage tech. That turned into a job with the band Sleep and the band Neurosis, and over the course of time I ended up being on the road nine months out of the year. That kind of killed Totimoshi.
At the same time when that was going on we had a monthly space to rehearse in Los Angeles called Downtown Rehearsal. Some place called SoHo House … they bought the building. It probably housed 200 bands, so every single band got kicked out of there. We had a little bit of money in savings, and I was able to secure some loans and rent a building out. Then we did the construction on building five rooms and built a fully back-lined hourly rehearsal place. That’s where All Souls rehearses. We just go down there, plug in and we rehearse there.”
Do you find yourself more involved with your rehearsal studio? I know you have to balance that with your band. Is that an issue at all?
“No, I see it as one in the same. We’re such music heads that literally everything about my life is literally about music. There’s nothing that isn’t any longer. I’m now for the first time making a living — using the music industry to make a living because of the rehearsal space. We also have shows at the rehearsal space so we’re able to house a sort of communal spot for the neighborhood to express musically what they want.
So, I think that so much of what’s lost in our country is kind of huge corporations taking over every facet of everything in our communities. What we’re doing is what needs to happen in communities … That’s what needs to be the future. I feel lucky.”
Have you had anyone you consider a big band record in your studio?
“I’ve had Roger Waters there for a party. I’ve had the Dead Boys there and to me that’s incredibly famous. I’ve had Sharon Van Etten there. She was there for a few days straight right before she played the Kimmel show.
Yeah, definitely. It’s not the kind of facility to house hugely famous bands with massive production, but certainly, like, mid-range bands can come in there and do rehearsals. Venzella Joy, she’s also rehearsed there, she’s the drummer for Beyoncé. She would come in and do drum sessions.
Yeah there’s been quite a few … it’s still growing.”
What do you see as your future for Eastside Rehearsal?
“I don’t know honestly. It’s literally a day by day thing, mostly because large spots of Los Angeles are gentrifying very quickly and I’m in this awkward position where I’m a homeowner. My home is going up in value massively, so that could also displace my business because I’m a renter at my business. There’s really almost no way for a business owner to get a low cost loan to buy a property.
I’m basically making barely enough money to pay for myself. The money I pay myself is barely enough to pay the mortgage and my bills and having a little bit left over to live. We just signed a five year lease, but who knows. In five years, we might have to close.”
Does that influence your music at all with all of that going on?
“Yeah, it always has. I think that really early on I had major trauma that happened to me, and then consistently through my upbringing had massive trauma inflicted on me. I think that music became sort of the gift from the universe to allow me to go into, like, a secret cave or secret cavern to get away from it and explore myself. As I got older and started writing more and more music with Totimoshi, it became my therapy for finding the horrible things inside of my psyche that made me, in my opinion, a bad person and sort of exercising those demons. I think that music has allowed me to do that.
I sort of exercise those demons with lyrics and with music. I think that outwardly, engaging in civil things that are completely unjust, I’ve been sort of exercising that stuff too. There’s a lot of musicians that I’ve known along the way that have gone ‘Well, you shouldn’t write about politics. Music should never be about politics.’ I always thought, ‘Well, you come from a privileged perspective then because if you don’t want to engage in politics or if you’re to the point in your life where you’re simply writing about Gorgons and silly shit — it’s your cup of tea and that’s what you want to do — well that’s simply because you’ve never been beaten down by somebody or had to sleep or live on a dirt floor. So it doesn’t affect you.’
Its certainly affected people like Bob Marley or Hendrix. They wrote about those things because something along the way in their history made them think about those things.”
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