One of L-7's clients is local rock band Ordinary Language, whose members have seen both ends of the South Florida studio spectrum. The foursome went into Criteria in September of 1989 to cut a five-song demo. In May of last year, the band taped five songs at L-7. Apart from huge cost differences, there was another, more subtle, distinction between the two recording experiences. "Criteria enabled us to get more texture and more `studio,'" says Ordinary Language vocalist Gerald Baumann. "But we weren't looking for that at L-7. We were looking for a straight-ahead rock and roll sound. They're different things, but we're happy with the results at both. At Criteria, we were in Studio C with the famous piano [used for the Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs sessions]. Somehow it made me sing a little more intensely. I guess L-7 doesn't have that big roster [of superstars that recorded at Criteria]. It's a different feeling. But we did get exactly what we were looking for when we did L-7."
Bob Wlos opened L-7 back in 1984, and despite rumors to the contrary, he hasn't shut down and has no plans to do so. Though he doesn't have a wall full of gold and platinum sent by famous clients, the fact is that some of the greatest music of all time was cut at L-7 - tracks by the Silos, the Chant, Psycho Daisies, and Charlie Pickett. Stumble Church, Kiniption Fit, Minimum Wage, Exploding Clocks, and a band Wlos plays in, Rooster Head, also recorded at L-7. Not a superstar roster, but important music nonetheless.
The obvious advantage to a setup such as Bob Wlos's is cost, but if prices are lower, so are profits. "Let's put it this way," says Wlos. "There already is a Criteria. There has to be somewhere people can go where they can afford it. I'm not a Good Samaritan - I do like to get paid.
"This is a relaxed place where people can come and don't have to watch the clock or be uptight if they don't get it on the first take. They don't start freaking out because of the expense. I like to have some input to help people out without bleeding them. My philosophy is that I'd rather see people come and do twenty songs on the same budget that they could do three or four at a Criteria. If the song is good, and I have the equipment to make it sound pretty close to Criteria - airplay quality - they might as well be able to do more songs. If nobody hears the songs, what good is it? The goal is to get other people to hear your music.