From Bombs to Beats: Former Marine Explosives Expert Opens Recording Studio in Gilbert

Studio owners John Bradley and Mike Renfro.
Studio owners John Bradley and Mike Renfro.
Eileen Clare

BluVudu Productions in Gilbert wants to record your next album project.

Maybe you started it at your home studio and hit a wall. Maybe your neighbor hit a wall and ruined a take. Truth is, your band is mere weeks from breaking up when they finally have a concrete example of what their music actually looks and sounds like to other people. The stakes are high. Nerves are frayed. Everyone has an opinion and no one is shifting to neutral.

BluVudu Productions in Gilbert still wants to record your next album project.

In fact, studio co-owner/producer/head engineer John Bradley is hankering to do it and do it right. To him, your band's squabbles are a day at the beach, because 10 years ago, when he went to work, he was defusing bombs.

"I was an explosives disposal vet," says Bradley. "My Marine Corps career being an explosives guy, being in all those dangerous billets, I got a lot of extra pay for that and I socked all that away."

Bradley's shrewd application of the G.I. Bill from his seven-year tour of duty made his recording and engineering career and the success of BluVudu Productions possible. He holds $240,000 worth of degrees in audio engineering and music production from Tempe's Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences, which led to a teaching gig there and building the first BluVudu Productions facility in Plattsburgh, New York.

After developing a curriculum in upstate New York to teach audio engineering and music production to the blind, Bradley returned to the conservatory and teamed up with his former student and fellow former Marine Mike Renfro to form BluVudu Productions West. For this reason, they are offering 10 percent off recording projects to all veterans who want to record.

At a time when many artists are exercising their DIY rights by recording at home studios, releasing their own product and booking their own tours, BluVudu Productions is vying to be the missing middleman that is going to get your project to the next level. Their rate is $45 an hour, but the studio offers a $400-a-song deal for larger projects. They say this makes them more affordable considering all the other perks they throw in: the cost of mastering a CD, duplication, CD graphics, making merch, and promotion,

A BluVudu signee like singer-songwriter Lexi Brockman also gets headshots and videos too: The studio has a full-time videographer, Jeff DeAvlia. "You’d be surprised how many clients ask studios if they have those services available, and a lot of studios don’t so we make them readily available," says Brockman "Anything you need done, we have a guy who can do it."

The uniqueness of having mirror East Coast and Southwest facilities with band living quarters is that BluVudu can promote artists with their in-house radio station at both ends of the country.

"During the regular radio broadcast, you're livecast," says Bradley. "You get tons of exposure. We do that for our clients. Another perk, when we get Lexi's album made, we get her on a small Southwestern tour for the first one, then bring her over to BluVudu East, stay at the band house and tour from there. We’re only an hour from Montreal."

Bradley is excited about recording in Arizona because "the mindset out here is to want to go pro, to be the best big thing, versus upstate New York and more rural areas, artists still want to record but they're not worried about being the next big thing. There’s more happening here, a lot more places to play."

Bradley believes that, rather than bands, hip-hop acts will become the studio's bread and butter, but he's vying for all kinds of clients.

"Because of our Marine background, our normal hustle is four times more than what a normal person would do. It doesn't leave you afterwards," he says. "Compared to that, civilian life is a piece of cake."

To book a session or inquire about the studio, call 623-688-6733 or email bluvuduprodco@gmail.com.

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