The Faultline North is Bozeman’s Multipurpose Music Space

Brian Ripple  |   Wednesday Dec. 31st, 2014

I was a freshman studying design in the School of Art and Architecture at MSU in1998 when one day I decided to walk into the ASMSU office to see if there was a way to help bring more diverse entertainment to campus. Since it was already November, all the positions had been filled for the year. Except one. Neal, The Technical Director was leaving thus his position needed to be filled immediately. Patty Innskeep asked me if I could hook up stereo equipment and I told her ‘sure I can’. The next thing I knew I was hired, and no more than three days later I found myself supervising the backstage happenings at a Def Leppard concert in the Fieldhouse. This was the first of an overwhelming number shows I was the Crew Chief, or Steward for at MSU between 1998 and 2002.

During those four years there were almost 90 shows that I would consider Large National Acts. Top notch entertainers such as Bob Dylan, Matchbox 20, Snoop Dogg, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, widespread Panic, Lyle Lovette, Crosby Stills and Nash and the String Cheese Incident to name more than a few. There was Carrot Top and WCW Pro Wrestling too, It never seemed to stop. Back then there was a big show with a national act in the fieldhouse at least every month, sometimes more often. It was deemed necessary by the sports facilities department on campus. Big concerts to help pay for the football stadium which was begining to be renovated with no attendance to speak of at the games. Soon things would change both for the concerts and the football team. Once the stadium was finished and the Bobcats started to have winning seasons post 2002, the attendance at the games went sky high and the concerts were no longer necessary, at least in the same capacity as previously required.

Fast forward to 2015. - There is rarely a national act stopping in Bozeman to preform for the general public. I admit the Zebra and Filling Station do their part to keep music coming to Bozeman, as do several other promoters and places like Live from the Divide. But honestly, the accomodations are not really in place for a lot of touring bands and promoters to make it worth their time to make a stop in Bozeman, even though touring acts could use the gas money driving between bigger markets in Minneapolis, Seattle, Denver and Salt Lake it is just not worth it. The acts are all going to Missoula and Billings where the shows are not cost prohibited and fans go out in large numbers to support the artists.

In Bozeman, The Emerson has so many draw backs to hosting a concert there it is almost unheard of any more, and the politics at MSU keep a lot of people away although they do maintain a few big events each semester. Basically the costs at both aforementioned places are high enough that it scares away many touring acts and their promoters.

Enter to the picture David Hearst and his wife Nancy Reynolds and their new Labor of Love / Recording Studio / Music Venue / Community Center, The Faultline North, which is located off of Manley Road on Gallatin Park Drive.

David’s background it turns out is somewhat similar to mine in some ways. We both attended a lot of what would be generically termed ‘Heavy Metal’ concerts as young men while under the age of twenty one. David on the west coast and myself in Minneapolis. David wants, like everyone including myself, to raise his family in a safe place, away from the negative influences of a major city. However upon landing in Bozeman he was forced to travel to see the shows he wanted to see. Big surprise, most bands do not come to Bozeman Montana. But why? David’s thoughts began to wonder. Maybe if there was a better venue available, where parents could let their kids go to a show and feel safe. A venue that was set up and ran like others around the region where it is not cost prohibitive to have a show at, maybe if it is built to suit the needs of the artists instead of it being built for money and the artists being secondary. Perhaps if it was there to serve local Bozeman musicians as a launch pad to bigger better things. Maybe then people will notice and be interested in utilizing the space and decide to utilize this space.
Scheduled to open in January 2015, this new facility will bring a new space to Bozeman and it’s scores of music loving residents. The estimated occupancy for a standing show is nearly double that of the Filling Station, or roughly 350+ which is a size necessary to sell enough tickets to cover basic expenses.

David Hearst’s stated goals are somewhat different than most peoples in starting a new business like this one. It actually came about when he wanted to recreate his home studio from his prior residence in the San Francisco bay area here at his new home in Bozeman. Due to logistics this was not going to be possible, so for David it was time for a new plan. But what? David decided to create “that space for music to happen”. The place Bozeman sure could use where both Local and National bands are able to perform, rehearse, and record. But it is also just a place for him to have his studio set back up the way it was in California.

This project actually began in 2011 or so, and the pieces of the puzzle started to take shape when the building and land on Gallatin Park Drive became affordable. That led David and Nancy to do what I would call, ‘Going All In’ and purchased the barn. Next came an almost three year renovation on the space which had been an old wood shop, and the couple began turning it into what will soon be a state of the art recording studio with an adjacent preformance area that can be used for live shows, tour rehearsals or as a recording studio annex. The upper level was taken out and new support buttresses and ceiling beams were added to maintain the buildings integrety. A loft and service are remains upstairs with a limited VIP type viewing area. There is a ticketing and merchandise window in the lobby, more than adequit bathroom spaces, a catering and bar service area in the venue. Green room space with private bath and showers for artists is conveniently located directly adjacent to the stage area, and the buildings design is perfectly suited for loading in and out gear and equipment needed to have a natonal act stop in Bozeman.

With the addition of the Ceiling Beams all sound and lighting will be installed and hung for optimum affordability to people renting the space, so they will not need to bring in any equipment other than backline to do a show. Hearst is in final stages of choosing a house PA, and getting the sound and lighting installed. There will be a house mixing desk of course, but touring bands will be able to use their own when and if needed.

The entire building is also in the process of being properly acoustically treated starting with the cieling which was recently sprayed with an acoustic foam compound. All the walls will soon be treated as well. All the details seem to be in place for a top notch mulitpurpose venue. I sure hope it all works out!
Keep your eyes open for more information on upcoming events at the Faultline North at

Brian Ripple is a father of three children and also happens to be the publisher and music editor for Bozeman Magazine. In his ‘spare’ time he runs Ripple Sound & Recording. A full service sound and lighting company in Bozeman.

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