A cave-like room with electric red walls and blue light fixtures is the new home to the $100 million podcast of new Austin resident Joe Rogan. And who would Rogan trust to construct this room? None other than his fellow Austinites.
Rogan, a mixed martial arts enthusiast and comedian, entrusted two local businesses—Sound Shed Studios and Wrightsmith Studios—to construct his new podcast studio after recently moving to Austin from Los Angeles. In just under three weeks, the two Austin companies scrambled to complete the project of their most high-profile client yet.
Timeline of Joe Rogan moving to Texas:
Sound Shed Studios, a local audio and visual business, was a side project Matthew Alvarez started 10 years ago, transforming a storage unit into a recording studio. Getting laid off from his full-time audio engineering job due to the pandemic and seeing the outcome of the Rogan studio, Alvarez has since decided to run Sound Shed Studios full time.
Alvarez began working with Rogan after getting a call from an old friend he had done some work for who said he wanted Alavarez to meet the person who had hired him for private security—Rogan. Alvarez met Rogan the next day, and the two had a thorough discussion about the studio design.
In an interview with Austonia, Alvarez said when he saw the room, he knew he had to make some major changes for it to be podcast ready, and when he told Rogan, Rogan responded with, "Hey, I trust you, I like you, build this out as if it were your own studio."
Alvarez, who usually works alone, gathered some friends—Jacob Rangel, Nate Laningham, Richard Castro, Nick Fette, Justin Contreras and Christopher Spikes—to jump on the project with him on a tight two-and-a-half-week deadline. Together, they sound proofed the inner walls with open core polyurethane foam, adding double doors and treating the finished room with sound dampening panels.
Rogan gave Alvarez the creative freedom—and budget—to make a stunning studio with input mostly on the color scheme.
At the completion of Sound Shed's part of the studio creation, Alvarez said he sent Rogan a photo of the studio, to which Rogan replied, "Fucking sick."
But it wasn't until Rogan saw it in person that Alvarez received the validation that the project was a success.
"He didn't really say much. I could tell that he was really absorbing everything, and he gave me a knuckle bump and [said], 'Matt, you killed it.' To hear that from him in person … I knew that we had something to be proud of," Alvarez said.
And what's a podcast room without the right table? For that, Rogan brought in a recommendation from another famous podcaster in Austin, Adam Curry—the first guest on Rogan's Austin podcast.
Drew Teague, founder of Wrightsmith Studios, is a friend of Curry's and was in the process of designing a podcast table for him when he was asked to put that project on hold by Curry to complete Rogan's Austin studio table.
While Wrightsmith Studios is only officially about a year old, Teague has had lots of experience building and fabricating unique furniture pieces, especially for studios.
After speaking with Rogan on what he wanted, Teague came up with a design. Usually clients will request tweaks to the design Teague said, but at first glance, Rogan said, "That's the one, build it."
On the same schedule as Sound Shed Studios, Teague also brought in outside help to complete the project on time, as he usually works all on his own.
Teague and his team made a 500 pound white oak discussion table with a specific frame for enough leg room for podcast guests.
When Rogan saw the table for the first time in person, he reached out to Teague and told him how much he loved it.
"[Rogan] is outstanding in every way," Teague said. "From the first meeting, he was friendly and down to earth; he was very encouraging."
When Rogan posted the almost-complete podcast room to Instagram, tagging both Sound Shed and Wrightsmith studios, the two accounts were all of a sudden in the public eye. Both accounts gained over a thousand new followers with direct messages asking questions about the studio and requests for their work.
Rogan is up and rolling in the new studio, and the two businesses behind it know their work payed off.
He could literally have anybody come in to [complete the studio] from anywhere, but he decided to find local guys who were already doing it in town at relatively small businesses," Teague said. "It says a lot about Joe's character."
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After months of speculation, a new report says political personality Beto O'Rourke is mulling a run for Texas governor that he will announce later this year.
Sources tell Axios the former congressman is preparing his campaign for the 2022 election, where he will likely vie for the position against incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott. The only other candidate that has announced he will take on Abbott for governor is former Texas GOP Chairman Allen West—no Democrats have announced they are running as of yet.
"No decision has been made," Axios reports David Wysong, O'Rourke's former House chief of staff and a longtime adviser, said. "He has been making and receiving calls with people from all over the state."
A new poll from The Dallas Morning News and University of Texas at Tyler shows O'Rourke is narrowing the gap between himself and Abbott's prospects for governor. In the poll, 37% said they'd vote for O'Rourke over Abbott, while 42% said they'd vote for Abbott.
Abbott has been in the hot seat due to his handling of COVID-19 and the signing of landmark legislation into law, including new abortion and voting rights laws; 54% of poll respondents voted they think the state is headed in the "wrong direction." Still, Texas hasn't had a Democrat as governor since the 90s.
O'Rourke's people-focused approach to the 2018 Senator race, which he lost to Sen. Ted Cruz, gave him a widespread following and many hoped he'd throw his hat into the ring since he said he was considering it earlier this year.
"We hope that he's going to run," Gilberto Hinojosa, the state chair of the Democratic Party, told Axios. "We think he'll be our strongest candidate. We think he can beat Abbott because he's vulnerable."
Austin rapper Jordi Esparza may not have won the 2021 Red Bull Batalla, the world's largest Spanish freestyle rap competition, but for a spirited two rounds, the 22-year old Mexican native looked like he had every right to.
On Saturday evening in Los Angeles, the event itself looked like Cobra Kai meets Star Search with graphics adding a very Batman Beyond aesthetic. Over a dozen rappers hoping to represent the U.S. in the international round of the competition took to the stage with in-your-face jabs at accents, sexual orientation and odors, among other things.
This was Esparza's second rodeo; he had placed third at the 2020 National Finals, automatically securing him a spot this year.
However, things were different this year. He was not nervous about the contest. Unlike in 2020, when he made his Red Bull Batalla debut, the anxiety of the event led him to "feeling so bad."
Affecting a casual calm, the locally-based landscaper said he just felt "so relaxed, so happy" and primarily wanted to "enjoy everything."
Choosing his first-round opponent, Esparza, whose stage name is Jordi, elected to go against LA-based Boss.
Esparza freestyled an attack on his opponent's weight and cholo style of dress.
Boss—bracketing his Latin freestyle with English appeals to the crowd—mocked Jordi's lack of education, made fun of how clean Jordi's shoes looked and suggested that Jordi just came back from a Footlocker.
That first round went to Jordi.
But his next opponent Eckonn would prove to be his undoing.
Eckonn compared Jordi to Hannah Montana, while Jordi soulfully explained that he had learned from the best.
Esparza's verbal dexterity is matched by a rattling rhythm and a game face that is as mawkish as it is mockish. The overall effect is that of an underdog with bite.
Eckonn beat Esparza in that round with the overall championship going to Palm Beach-based rapper Reverse.
However, Esparza was just happy to be there. He recently told Austonia going to the finals again was a dream come true—a pinnacle that he said he won't know how to top.
With his nimble jabs and sneaky prowess, honed from pop culture and the swagger of a young working man hungry to be more, Jordi Esparza is just getting started.