Local Music

It’s not confidential

The Killers’ Vegas recording studio finally makes its presence known

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Lead engineer Robert Root records Vegas band Imagine Dragons at Battle Born Studios.
Photo: Bill Hughes

The most important thing Robert Root wants you to know about the Battle Born recording studio is that it exists.

Unless you read musician trade publications EQ or Mix, you might not be aware that hometown heroes The Killers laid down the bulk of third album Day & Age at a studio right here in Las Vegas. Or that they are the majority owners of that one-year-old studio—previously Studio Vegas for more than a decade. Or that the chill, boutique studio located just west of the Strip is available to professional artists from every genre for a remarkably reasonable price.

Battle Born Studios

So why would a studio that has seen The Killers, Elton John and Mötley Crüe, as well as members of Aerosmith and Third Eye Blind, not already be a household name, at least in the 702 area code? Lead engineer Root prefers keeping Battle Born Studios under the radar, with the studio’s actual whereabouts known only to “serious musicians who want to take their art to the next level,” according to the studio’s MySpace page.

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Battle Born Studios
Battle Born Studios on MySpace
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Replete with all the equipment most recording artists or bands could ever need (check out the full gear list at myspace.com/battlebornstudios)—Battle Born boasts two studios: a larger A space with two adjacent isolation booths, and a smaller B space with one.

The control room provides a commanding view of Studio A from Root’s seat at the console. During the Weekly’s exclusive visit, local band Imagine Dragons was working on a new track, “Take Take Take.”

Inside the gold, flocked-wallpapered Chill Room, a couch, flat-screen TV and Blu-ray player await the occasional entourage or mid-session break, as does a stash of Red Bull. The studio’s $1,200-$1,500 per 10-hour day includes exclusive use of the 2,000-square-foot facility—which has the look and laid-back vibe of an ultralounge—and the staff, which is happy to makes food runs, or emergency trips to Guitar Center. (Root admits to having footed a $200 sushi bill for Mötley Crüe, quite by accident. Such amenities, he says, are now tacked on to the band’s tab.)

While Battle Born (its name is taken from the Nevada state flag) is more than happy to accommodate well-known talent—Elton John and the Pet Shop Boys’ Neil Tennant helped record Killers Christmas single “Joseph, Better You Than Me” there, for example—Root is hoping to also attract up-and-coming local bands. And for a lower price than the multimillion-dollar studio inside the Palms.

Battle Born’s tucked-awayedness seems to lend a bit of non-commercial street cred to the products coming out of it. When The Killers settled in to their new studio to record Day & Age, Root says they came ready to work. Much of the album’s content had already been demoed in London or on the band’s computers, but Root says one song in particular, “A Dustland Fairytale,” truly came into itself there in the studio’s evocative environs.

So are Vegas’ days as a live-performance hub whose own artists head elsewhere to record over? Too soon to tell. But if Battle Born alone can’t put Sin City on the recording map, at the very least, “It gives local artists hope,” Root says. And what fledgling band couldn’t use a bit more of that?

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