Zach Zurn owes someone a “thank you,” but he’s not sure who.
When actor Michael York was in Rochester for care at Mayo Clinic, producers from Fox’s immortal animated series, "The Simpsons," called the veteran actor to ask him to record a role for an upcoming episode.
Someone at Mayo Clinic recommended York and his wife, Pat, check Carpet Booth Studios.
“I’m still not sure who it was,” said Zurn, who founded the studio.
Pat called Zurn to ask some preliminary questions about scheduling and studio specifications. A Fox casting director followed up with more specific questions and gave the OK for York to record the part there.
The episode, “The Way of the Dog,” part of the 31st season of the show, aired in May.
A photo of York now hangs on a studio wall that has dozens of other photos of people who have recorded there. Zurn said that's the only photo the actor agreed to pose for during the recording process. Zurn said that was fine with him as long as he got to add York's picture to the wall.
Zurn said the couple was gracious, kind and humble, and said they appreciated not having to travel far to record the part.
“We were impressed with their personality and character,” Zurn said, adding that he might have been a little starstruck while recording York's iconic voice speaking with a high British accent.
“It was super cool to see Basil in my studio,” he said, referring to York’s role as Basil Exposition in the Austin Powers movie franchise. “He was so committed to getting the right takes.”
Michael York and "The Simpsons" are big names to add to the studio’s growing resume.
“It’s really fun to be able to share that success story,” Zurn said.
The project also validates Zurn’s message that people don’t have to travel hours away to get professional, high-quality recording work. It also reminds people that Carpet Booth isn’t a fly-by-night studio set up in a garage or basement.
“There’s nothing wrong with that kind of setup,” he said. “It’s just nice to have a professional option here.”
Zurn had been working in the Twin Cities when he decided to establish a studio in Rochester in 2017. Competing against established studios in the Twin Cities didn’t interest him.
“I had no desire to go up there and compete with what they’re doing there, because they’re doing such an incredible job,” he said.
Musicians began coming to Zurn even before he established himself in the kind of space he wanted. The first recordings were done in the cramped confines in a former downtown retail space.
When a former church came up for sale, a fundraising campaign and financier helped him take a leap of faith in making it become a versatile and comfortable place to record.
Today, the studio has multiple recording spaces, and a lounge. The church sanctuary is now a live-performance recording space.
“It sounds superficial, but when somebody walks into a control room with five windows opening up into separate spaces and it looks like a 'Star Trek' control room, that’s the level of professionalism we want people to see,” Zurn said.