Earlier this summer, Mark Nicolich, the ears and mind behind Atomic Audio, constructed, mostly on his own, a new state-of-the-whoa, fully air-conditioned 4,100-square-foot recording studio and learning center in East Tampa.
The facility will not only give recording artists an accessible and comfortable option to elevate their profile but offer educational opportunities to young and/or budding musicians through private lessons and group projects. It includes a control room and playing space with acoustical sound treatments, isolation booths, lesson rooms and rehearsal spaces — which can be rented by the week or month — a Pro Tools HD system, security alarm and video surveillance.
With several full-service studios already in the area, the noteworthiness of Atomic's new-and-improved space has just mostly to do with Nicolich, the sort of hard-working guy local musicians want to see make good.
"Mark Nikolich is a stand-up guy," said Keith Ulrey, owner of the New Granada music label and promotions company. "He's an excellent engineer who's open to new ideas, suggestions, and his patience and ear go a long way." Ulrey, who's played in Zillionaire, Rec Center and other bands, said he's recorded every project he's been involved with over the past 12 years at Atomic Audio.
Nicolich started out recording punk and metal bands in the late '90s in a tiny, cramped space at a Stor-Ette facility on the seedy outskirts of Tampa, but word spread about the quality of his work and his easy-going demeanor. He's since been sought after by everyone from rockers to R&B artists to acoustic acts, country singers and rappers.
Now he has the space and bells and whistles required to expand Atomic's talent roster even more.
"I'm in a position now that I'm still young enough to do this and have the physical ability," Nicolich said.
Nicolich's reputation for his quality output precedes him. Whether he's working with the fiercely raging metal group Light Yourself on Fire or mellow, earthy singer-songwriter Christie Lenee, each artist sounds crisp with emphasis on the right elements. He may be highlighting a raw drumbeat or sparkly strum. Whichever it is, he captures individual instruments with appropriate emphasis and places them just right in the mix.
"It's a sharp and clean sound," said drum instructor Shawn Watkins, drummer of the Tim Version, one of the bands that Nicolich has recorded. "Best drum sound I ever had. He just nailed what I was going for."
Along with Watkins, other musicians on Atomic's teaching staff include Melissa Grady of Candy Bars (strings) and her husband, Joe Grady of Rocksteady@8 (bass, guitar and piano).