Music Issue 2015: The life Atomic

Atomic Audio in East Tampa remains a go-to destination for top local artists

click to enlarge Brian Burleson of Red Room Cinema recording at Atomic Audio. - Stephen Bivens
Stephen Bivens
Brian Burleson of Red Room Cinema recording at Atomic Audio.

Atomic Audio’s Mark Nicolich started out with punk and metal bands in the late ’90s, recording them in a tiny, cramped space at a Stor-Ette facility in East Tampa. Word of mouth spread about his professionalism and pinpoint output, and an ever-increasing demand forced him to up his game.

And that he did. Five years ago, Nicolich opened a fully air-conditioned 4,100-square-foot recording studio and learning center in East Tampa. The facility is still going strong, an accessible go-to for artists that boasts sensible ergonomics, a control room and playing spaces outfitted with acoustical sound treatments, isolation booths, rehearsal spaces — which can be rented weekly or monthly — a Pro Tools HD system, security alarm and video surveillance.

Tim Version drummer Shawn Watkins praises Nicolich for delivering a sharp, clean sound. “Best drum sound I ever had,” Watkins says. “He just nailed what I was going for.” The long-running band recently completed a set of songs at Atomic Audio, as did the now-defunct Y Los Dos Pistoles.

Keith Ulrey — a local musician who’s also the owner of New Granada Records, New Granada Presents and Microgroove record store — swears by Nicolich as a “stand-up guy.” Many of Ulrey’s NG-repped acts record at Atomic Audio, including Red Room Cinema and his own Zillionaire.

What’s new since Atomic Audio opened? Well, they’ve ditched the music lessons, and he’s enlisted DieAlps! member Frank Calcattera as an engineer and producer. “We’re glad we could bring him aboard,” Nicolich says of his new right-hand man. “He brings certifications and a wealth of experience.”

The sound guru, who built his studio from the ground up, is still employing his carpentry skills and has added Gonja Cabs — professional custom-made musical instrument speaker cabinets — to his offerings. “I’ve been doing that for a couple of years now and it’s going really well,” Nicolich enthuses.

Though he’s partial to heavier bands, Nicolich still enjoys working with every type of musician — stuff as far-flung as Junction 27, a ukulele outfit hitting the studio in August, and Wherewithal, a progressive rock band he’s been working with this month.

Whatever he’s recording, Nicolich captures individual instruments and places them in the mix just right, all to the satisfaction of the artists he’s working with, whether they’re going for something raw or polished — or both.

Why does Nicolich think his customers continue to return? “They feel at home; they feel comfortable, and that’s the way I’ve always wanted it to be.”

“There are many great local studios around but I can’t say enough good things about Mark and Atomic,” DJ Sugar Bear (also a member of the newly minted band Teacher Teacher) wrote via Facebook. “[Atomic is a] fantastic space designed by a guy who knows what the hell he’s doing. Great attitude and his advice is always on point. Also, his rates are more than fair.”


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