Renowned recording studio draws musicians to Tornillo

Sonic Ranch in Tornillo, Texas

Down a dirt road in Tornillo, Texas, spread out over several acres and several unassuming buildings, you'll find a world-class recording studio called Sonic Ranch.

“There’s something about this place that’s just conducive to creativity, you know?" said producer Rob Fraboni.

That's high praise coming from Fraboni, who has produced classic records for the likes of The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton, to name a few.

“This place is wonderful because you have so many options and possibilities, plus it’s a really magical environment," said Fraboni, who hails from Southern California. "It’s very special from that point of view.”

Several weeks ago, Fraboni was working on an album with El Paso's Abe Mac Band. When he wasn't busy getting the mix just right, he was singing the praises of the studio.

“I’ve never seen anything like this. It’s just remarkable," he said. "Not just the fact that there are all these rooms, but the whole attitude of the place and the way the employees are, all the way down to the women who cook and clean. It’s just a family.”

Sonic Ranch touts itself as the world's largest residential recording studio. It was established in 1989 by owner Tony Rancich. The five studios are built around an 80-year-old hacienda and pecan orchard.

“Recording out here is so cool, we’re home,” said singer-songwriter Abe Mac, who made his sophomore record at Sonic Ranch. “Knowing that you’re at one of the world’s greatest studios and it’s in El Paso. A lot of people say it’s in Tornillo, but it’s in the El Paso area.”

The musicians who played on the Abe Mac album say there is definitely something special about this place.

“To have all these things at your disposal, it’s just amazing," said drummer Omar Uribe. "I love getting to play on different types of kits, because you get to hear their personality."

“When we got here the first time out here, you’re just in awe, and I’m still in awe," said bassist Marsau. "But now it feels like this place is part of us now. I don’t know if that makes sense, but now it just feels like home.”

The studio and its astounding collection of vintage instruments, amps and consoles - combined with its remote setting - makes it a perfect musician's playground.

“You just have to pinch yourself, because you’re here and this is Disneyland, like Rob put it, you’re in Disneyland and you're having so much fun and you just don’t want it to stop,” said Uribe.

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