“Neon Cornfield started for me while I was still in school,” say Neon Cornfield owner and operator Mike Champlin. “A teacher of mine, Al Stone, noticed I had an interest in sound and offered me a job in a recording studio. At 17 years old, that was about the most amazing thing that could possibly happen.”
Young Champlin worked at the studio as a edit/dub engineer, where he said he had his own room and made copies … “thousands of copies.” That Neon Cornfield, which primarily functioned as a jingle factory for commercials of the late '70s, plus records like The Late Show's Portable Pop, was long-closed in the early '90s when Champlin returned home from many years on the road with Schoolboy Crush.
“I told the guys that I needed to stay home and take care of 'home' for a while,” Champlin says. “My best friend Jeff Frazier, longtime lead guitarist for Pure Gold, and I started a studio. We called it ReelTime Studios, kind of a play on words as we still used 'reels' of tape back then. We had great success recording demos for local bands like Pale, The Splatter Monkeys, The Lucas Brothers, F8*38, Splurge, Donnie Clark and other artists in the early '90s. We even recorded some tunes that Duke Tumatoe used on a weekly Bob and Tom radio show called 'Crazy ‘bout the NFL.' ”
A few years and career changes later, Champlin dumped the tapes and decided to open a brand new studio just outside Indy in Martinsville, in the “middle of nowhere,” he says. It was, delightfully, surrounded by cornfields.
“I couldn’t think of a better or more fitting name for this place,” he says, “and Neon Cornfield was born again, on a beautiful piece of property in Martinsville, Indiana it is truly 'Where State-of-the Art Meets the Country.' ”
Champlin's studio is almost eight years old now, and he's kept very busy making demos with bands like The Bishops, Jambox (see page INSERT PAGE HERE for more on Jambox), 3rd Generation, Project 19 and The Big Time. He also was asked to record a song for nonprofit The Prevention of Child Abuse. Champlin: “This song titled 'Stop the Hurt' was written by the incredibly talented Rhonda Collins. Thanks to Rhonda, we were able to 'borrow' some children from the Indianapolis Children’s Choir. You haven’t lived until you’ve stood in a control room full of crying parents. They were so proud.”
Expect full-lengths from Lindsey McKenzie, The Damn Nears, Natalie Coffin and The Rehab All-Stars. For now, Champlin's happy to just keep working.
“I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings,” he says. “For a little place that only operates part time, it has brought a lot of happiness to me, and everyone that I have had the privilege to work with … and a lot of amazing music.”
2nd: Shine Indy Studios
3rd: Wes DeBoy Recording