Arlington, VA’s historic Inner Ear Studios announced that it will be closing down on October 1. It was the site of recordings by many Washington, DC punk scene bands and other similar acts, including Bad Brains, Bikini Kill, Bob Mould, Dag Nasty, Fugazi, Jawbox and Minor Threat, among others.
Owner Don Zientara told WTOP, “We’ve been in that location for 32 years, it’s been a long run and a good run. It needs to come to an end, at least at that location.” Arlington County reportedly wants to buy the land that the site sits on to incorporate it into their plans for a new arts district. The Arlington County Board hasn’t confirmed when they want to tear the site down, but plans for the district have still kept moving forward. Zientara explains that they’ve stopped booking recording sessions after September so that they can plan on being out of there on October 1.
“I believe it will eventually be leveled, and there will be a stage there for live performances, which is great – It will fill a void,” he continued. “It’s evolution. Heck, I can move onto other things. I hope I had an impact while I was running it, on the arts community and the community in general.”
“Other things” appears to mean more similar things, however. Zientara states, “Inner Ear is not going away — it will be set up somewhere else. I’m still gonna be working. I’m not finished. I haven’t bought a fishing pole, or worms or flies yet.” He’s 72 years old now, but hopes to keep working at a smaller studio. He explains, “I’ll be cherry picking a lot of the equipment I have, and the microphones, just winnowing down to the things that I need.”
Inner Ear Studios began as a home studio run by Zientara in his house in Arlington, which is where its most famous recordings were made. The first band recorded there was The Teen Idles, which was Ian Mackaye and Jeff Nelson’s first band before they co-founded Minor Threat, and the first band they released on their legendary Dischord Records label, which has recently been celebrating their 40th anniversary with a reissue of the first six EPs released by the label, which feature recordings from Inner Ear Studios.
The studio grew a lot over the ten years from 1980-1990. At that time, it moved out of Zientara’s home into the new building that he’s been at ever since, until it closes down on October 1.