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Storage facility caters to ‘garage’ bands

Storage units are normally used to store relatively mundane belongings, but some storage units house more than just old knickknacks.

In the nearly 20 years that the 1st American Storage facility has been open on Skipper Road, it has served as a practice site for local bands.

At one point, there were about 40 bands practicing at the location, said manager Garland Hill.

Some band members said they would have no place to practice without the facility, which provides them a place where they won’t get noise complaints.

“We have insulated units, so they are sound proof for when bands practice,” Hill said.

Hill said he has been manager at the location for 13 years, but bands have been playing at the location since before he started working there. The facility was originally a privately owned business, but is now one of several nationwide sites owned by 1st American Storage.

Members of the band Oh My Justine started practicing at a storage unit after receiving numerous complaints.

“We had been playing at my house for three years, but the neighbors got sick of all the noise, so we had to get out,” said Victor Mercader, a USF junior majoring in architecture.

Laith Abdel-Rahman, a UCF student and Tampa resident who is hoping to transfer to USF, is the singer of another band that practices at the location. His band customized their storage unit.

“It is basically just like a normal room. We have carpet, painted walls and even a few couches,” Abdel-Rahman said.

Each unit costs $177 a month to rent, and has outlets as well as space to put an air-conditioning unit in, Hill said. Renters must furnish it themselves, however.

Many of the bands that have passed through the facility have moved on to great success. Morbid Angel, for example, a death metal band now on tour in Europe, once practiced at 1st American Storage.

In addition to band practice, there are three recording studios at 1st American Storage. Also, some renters have turned their storage units into personal offices.

1st American Storage has three locations in Florida, including its Tampa site, at 1108 Skipper Road.

“As far as I know, we are the only location that caters to bands,” Hill said.