Pine Mountain Club, CA (March 17, 2023)—Following days of extreme weather, the studio of noted recording, mixing/mastering engineer and producer Ronan Chris Murphy was destroyed late at night last Friday, March 10, when a massive tree fell on his house.
Murphy, known for his Recording Boot Camp training courses and work with Gwar, King Crimson, Terry Bozzio, Steve Morse, Ulver and others, as well as video games including Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, Yoku’s Island Express and Mafia III, was awakened by the crashing sound. He quickly discovered that his studio had been cleaved in half by the uprooted tree and his house had been permanently destabilized.
“We had a triple whammy of five feet of snow, then two days of warm temperatures and rain, and then 65 mile-an-hour winds,” said Murphy, who lives in a small, unincorporated community in the mountains of Tejon Pass, about 90 miles north of downtown Los Angeles.
“The studio is the whole second floor of the house—and it was split in half,” he continued. One-half of the house, built in the 1980s only a decade after Pine Mountain Club was initially developed as a vacation retreat, was largely unaffected, he reported. “The other side was a warzone.”
Authorities determined that the structure is not safe enough to support the crew that was prepared to cover it with tarpaulins, so it now remains open to the elements.
Much of the studio equipment that Murphy amassed when he previously worked out of his Veneto West facility in Santa Monica CA, was destroyed by the falling tree.
“My main mastering speakers are gone,” he reported. “They were from a company called FAR in Belgium; fantastic, but one-of-a-kind, boutique speakers, and the guy who invented them and ran the company is dead.” One-half of a pair of smaller FAR monitors Murphy had as a backup was also destroyed.
“I lost all my keyboards—my Fender Rhodes and an old organ—and all my guitar pedals,” he added, also noting that his phone, too, had been smashed and had to be replaced.
“The good news is that I was able to get out more than I expected,” he added. “I was able to save a lot of important gear.” Much of that equipment is currently dispersed across the local community after neighbors helped haul away and store anything that could be salvaged.
“The community has been amazing; I’ve got stuff in places all over town,” he said. “Everybody’s been so cool and so nice—and we’ve had several dozen offers: ‘Hey, come stay at our place, we’ve got a spare bedroom’ or ‘You can have our Airbnb for free.”
Fortunately, a pro-audio industry colleague has offered his nearby house as a long-term rental, providing Murphy and his partner with a base while they recover. “I think in less than a month, once I get some gear replaced, I’ll be functional and able to make a living again,” he said.
Murphy and his partner had house and contents insurance policies, which will defray some of their costs, but there’s a long road to recovery ahead. “Within six months, we have to demolish the building, which will probably be anywhere between $30,000 and $40,000—and that’s not covered under the insurance policy,” he said.
To raise some money in the short term, Murphy has set up a special “pay-what-you-want” sale on his 12-hour drum recording course at drumrecordingbootcamp.com. His good friend, scoring mixer John Rodd, has also set up a GoFundMe. “It has the potential to have a massive positive impact on our lives and getting us back on our feet,” Murphy said.