Living, Working, Creating

Steve Fulton brings the Lab back at VAC


Editor's Note: The Soliz Peterson release No Welcome Mat Here was not recorded at Audio Lab. According to the CD insert, the CD was recorded, mixed and mastered at Cunningham Audio Production, Boise, Idaho.

Steve Fulton opened Audio Lab in 1992 after a stint as owner of the now-defunct Koffee Klatsch. During the last 17 years, the 47-year-old Fulton estimates he's recorded around 1,000 projects, including full-length albums, singles, demos and corporate projects. He's even written and produced some tracks for film, including a song for the successful Out of the Blue documentary about the Boise State football team and has done some specialized audio, composing and scoring for several of Heather Rae's films.

Fulton's fingerprints can be seen all over Boise's music scene. He produced Kamphire Collective's 2007 release Simply Complex, recorded Paul Peterson and Richard Soliz' brand new release No Welcome Mat Here, and is currently working with Thomas Paul on his anticipated upcoming CD, one he said, "may blow people's minds." And between recording other musicians, Fulton still continues to play. During the holidays, Fulton's tune "The First Christmas Song" was in rotation on 94.9 The River. On Monday night, he opened for Michael Franti at the Knitting Factory as part of a Special Olympics benefit.

"It was magical," Fulton said. "From the stage to the bar, there wasn't an inch of space between people."

Steve Fulton summons you to his audio lab-yrinth. - JOYCE ALEXANDER
But that's not all. While he's recording other musicians and playing himself, he's also building a new studio.

Fulton and partners Sam Stimpert and Anneliessa Balk Stimpert own the Visual Arts Collective, a big part of which will be Audio Lab—once construction is finally completed. In 2007, due to city regulations and a lack of funds, building all but stopped on the entire 7,000 square-foot space. A few fundraisers, a handful of permits and hundreds of headaches and sleepless nights later, and the gallery at VAC opened. After waiting almost a year, Audio Lab should soon be, too. During the day, the sounds of bandsaws and hammers echo through the otherwise quiet space from behind the stage where Audio Lab will be. Fulton said they've made great headway on the construction, but they still need to get through the inspection process.

"We're going to throw a huge grand opening celebration," he said, laughing.

And even though he's still in his old location across Chinden Boulevard, Fulton can often be seen behind the sound board during a show at VAC. Fulton said that what he can offer musicians there is not only quality live sound, but quality live recordings. Local trio Juntura discovered that sometimes Fulton practices his craft when no one's looking. During a recent show, Fulton secretly recorded them. A copy of their sound, live and genuine, gives Juntura, a baby band just reaching the toddler stage, something very valuable: an opportunity to hear what they sound like and make improvements, and a recording they can give to their fans.

Fulton's skill and ability to multi-task will soon be put to the test. Feb. 20-21, VAC hosts a two-day showcase of some of Boise's local indie rock musicians for a project titled Rotating Tongues 2. Twenty-six musicians/acts will perform new music, all of which will be recorded, and then one song each will be included in a compilation. (Read the Feb. 18 issue of BW for more on that show.) Fulton will not only oversee the technical aspects of recording, but will also have a hand in the logistical ordeal of keeping over 100 musicians and all of their associated equipment moving and grooving.

With VAC and Woman of Steel Gallery spearheading the Live, Work, Create district from their alley in Garden City, Fulton and company are key players in revamping the area's reputation. Alley Repertory Theater is the new house company for VAC (see Arts, Page 23), and while VAC was an easy choice for ART because of the relationship between Fulton and ART co-founder Hollis Welsh—the two have been an item for a little over five years—ART's mission of inclusive, professional, diverse programs and opportunities is also in line with what Fulton and the Stimperts are working to achieve.

Audio Lab, 3145 Chinden Blvd., 208-344-9551,