Music Lovers, Neighbors & Unwanted Noise

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Noisy Neighbors
Do you live next to… this?(The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Years ago, I moved from an apartment to a building that was going to be converted into condominiums. The owners paid the residents $300 each to relocate. Luckily, I managed to find myself a rent-controlled apartment in Santa Monica, took the money, and moved.

The new apartment was in a three-unit building. Just before I moved in, my soon-to-be next door neighbor, Lisa, told me, “Oh, I’m so glad…the guy who used to live next door was a jazz addict who listened to his music all the time! Thank God he’s finally moving out.”

I thought to myself, “How am I going to keep her from seeing my entire collection of over 1,000 LPs when I move in? Does she hate jazz?! How will I listen to my jams? Are the walls really that thin?”

Fortunately, everything turned out okay, and Lisa and I got along just fine. But the neighbor thing has always been a consideration for me: “Will my neighbors play metal or rock music really loudly? Is there a teenager living next door who’s into hip hop and has a massive subwoofer that’ll cause my floors to vibrate?”

Tippa Irie’s “Complain Neighbour” (1985).

When I moved from my spacious single family residence in Venice to my new Marina del Rey beach pad in 2011, I did all the research: double-pane glass windows? Check. Solid floor construction and thickness? Check. Sound transmission factor through the walls? I tested this by playing my flute at full blast in the upper register and even beat on the walls while my friend listened for any noise from an empty apartment next door. This recently constructed steel and concrete building passed muster. However, on occasion, I can still hear the noise of high-heeled shoes clacking upstairs, and my neighbors have said they can hear me practicing, which I was really hoping to avoid.

I think all music lovers have probably dealt with this at one time or another. For some, the perfect solution is to nab one of those hard-to-find, standalone garage apartments. I once trawled an entire upscale neighborhood looking for one and scored. Luckily, this was during a time when I couldn’t afford to rent a full house.

Speaking of noise, does anyone remember British reggae singer Tippa Irie’s 1985 dancehall classic, Complain Neighbour? His lyrics for the song were brilliant and check out his 12″ side album cover!

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