Interview with Barber Shop Studios

Last week I caught up with my buddy Ryan Barber manager of the world-renowned Barber Shop Studios in Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey. It’s a great read so be sure to check it out below!

Q: Please tell us your name and what your role is at the studio.
A: Hello! My name is Ryan Barber and I manage The Barber Shop Studios.

Q:The studio is located inside a former church, making for a very unique setting. How did this come about? Also, how does it contribute to the sound?
A: In 2003, Scott Barber and his previous partner were looking for a space to open up a world-class recording studio. Scott, my father, wanted the studio to be located on a lake. Mark, his partner, wanted it to be located in a church. With a little luck there was a four-story church right on NJ’s largest lake just waiting to be utilized! The churches high ceilings help give the studio’s live room a unique, live sound that drummers seem to love.

Studio A

Q: What sets you guys apart from other studios?
A: Francis Manzella of Francis Manzella Design, a top architectural and acoustic design specialist, was brought in right from the start to insure the studio would be acoustically appealing to the top engineers and producers in the industry. The vision from the start was to build a recording studio that top industry professionals in NYC could bring clients out to. The idea for the studio was to have a more relaxing atmosphere while still giving clients the top of the line equipment to work with. We brought in the best gear possible, much of it coming from NYC’s legendary studio, The Hit Factory. Having such a wide array of engineers and producers working out of The Barber Shop, it makes it easy to help introduce artists to an engineer or producer that fits the overall vibe of their band. The studio now features a “crash pad” for artists who do not have the budget for a hotel room. When artists have a bigger budget they tend to stay in hotels in the area, or end up renting a house on the lake. I’ve had artists rent boats and boat to their sessions at the studio every morning. Having three rooms to work with also helps set us apart from other studios because we are able to work with artists of all different budgets. We can start in our main room, and then as the recording process goes on we can jump from room to room to keep costs down. There are not many studios set up with the extensive gear list that we have that can afford to record bands with a smaller budget. Attached to the studio is an Italian restaurant and bar so that artists don’t have to leave the premises to get food or a drink. If they do indeed want something from another restaurant, we have general assistants who will run out for the artist. The Barber Shop Studios was designed to cater to the best in the industry.

Q: The list of artists who’ve recorded at the studio is quite diverse. Who are some acts that have done work there recently?
A: The diversity comes from the different engineers and producers who enjoy working out of The Barber Shop. Recently, Equal Vision Records brought their band, Northern Faces and Seattle-based producer Casey Bates (Portugal. The Man, Chiodos, Pierce The Veil, Gatsby’s American Dream) to track a full length.

A few months ago Brett Romnes, drummer of I Am The Avalanche, tracked and produced the band’s third full length, WOLVERINES, before it was sent to Will Yip (Circa Survive, Title Fight, Man Overboard, The Wonder Years) for mixing. When Brett is not touring, he is constantly bringing bands in and out of The Barber Shop for production sessions. Producer Jason Corsaro (Soundgarden, Madonna, Duran Duran, The Ramones) finished working with Aurin on their new album, “Catharsis.” Recently Jason has also worked with Jim Plamer and Brooklyn based band, Isle Of Rhodes. Producer/Engineer Kevin Kumetz helped engineer The I Am The Avalanche record with Brett, and just finished working with Casey on the Northern Faces record. Kevin has recently finished up records for Plan to Prosper, Ender, The Posture, My Eyes Fall Victim, and Elite (ex In Other Words – Tragic Hero Records). Producer/Engineer Jeremy Gillespie produced and engineered Lacey Caroline’s debut EP Songbird, which has been receiving some great reviews. He also recently tracked and mixed some work for Yamaha jazz artist, Karl Latham. Jeremy has also been working with Producer David Mann with artist Kiki Ebsen.

Q: What’s the most interesting part about working in the recording industry?
A:The most interesting part to me is how every day is different. Some days we have three sessions going on at once. Ranging from tracking a rock session, to mixing a jazz record, to tracking an opera singer. Another day we are hosting an online concert with a site like, some days we are only working on bookings. Regardless of what is going on, we make sure to stay productive – with the overall goal of putting out music that artists can be proud of and listeners will enjoy.

Q: What can bands expect from a recording session with The Barber Shop?
A: Bands and artists can expect to work with some of the best gear on the planet with an engineer who wants to give them a sound they are proud of. If an artist has an engineer that works elsewhere but wants to come to The Barber Shop, we make the transition as seamless as possible by supplying an assistant engineer that knows the room. The staff here at The Barber Shop is constantly looking to make the artist’s stay here at the studio as comfortable and as stress free as possible. We understand recording an album can be a stressful moment for a band or artist, so we try to counter that with a relaxed atmosphere and help out in anyway we can.

Q: Lastly, where can one contact you to book a session?
A: You can either call us at 973-398-8540, email me at, or visit our website at and fill out a contact form.

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