Jake Ingalls parks in a 7-Eleven. He walks down two alleyways. Passes a wood shop with buzzing saws, a room full of rusting pinball machines and approaches the end of a row of compact warehouses. Ingalls eyes a single warehouse door that’s half open, revealing only the bottom half of an intricate piece of graffiti artwork on its aluminum surface. He crouches, steps inside, and is nearly tripped by the nest of cables snaking across the floor.
Unorthodox it may be. But for Ingalls, it’s home.
“First of all, it’s illegal to be living here. So no address,” Ingalls said.
Jake Ingalls, a 25-year-old musician and Berkley graduate, sits in his living room, of sorts. It also has a refrigerator, a toaster and a portable stove—making it the closest thing to the kitchen for his five-room warehouse in Fullerton. In order to combine the costs of rent and practice space for his band, The Human Machine, Ingalls and drummer Jake Modell made the decision to live illicitly in the warehouse a few months ago.
Despite their bizarre nature, Ingalls sounds proud of his living arrangements.
“We can’t afford to live somewhere and pay for a good enough recording facility where we can really flourish, so we decided we should get a warehouse space; it’ll be the best of both worlds,” Ingalls explained of his decision to knowingly break the law.
The Human Machine is an Orange-County based four piece who have been playing music together for more than five years and have three self-released albums to date. They’re drawing a growing college crowd, including a number of Chapman students.
Out of college, too old to defend jamming in their parents’ garages, and too poor from their day jobs of driving Lyft, the group cycled through a number of practice spaces around Orange County. They usually used small self-storage spaces also known as “lockouts.” That worked for a while, until they got too big for their breaches. Jonathon Modell, The Human Machine’s drummer, talked with starry eyes of Orange County’s underground music scene.
“We started doing shows in that lockout. Started a trend of people having shows in their own lockouts, which is how we got super connected with other bands,” he said. “That’s where the ball got rolling, people throwing us shows and we throw them shows.”
The group’s last lockout prior to their warehouse was on Lemon Street in Orange, less than a mile north of Chapman University. Senior Chapman cinematography student Ian Quill frequented the mini-concerts held at the Lemon location.
“Those shows were always hot and sweaty, thirty people packed into a little concrete box. They were fun though, I saw a lot of my best friends’ bands play at that lockout. I miss it,” Quill said.
Unfortunately, it was also the shows that lost The Human Machine the space. In the summer of 2015, Ingalls and Modell were kicked out of the Lemon lockout after an excessive number of noise complaints. They no longer had a place to jam.
By the end of 2015, after some deliberation, the group came to the conclusion that it would be both financially and creatively viable to find a practice space that could double as a place to live in. It only took a couple of months of searching to find the perfect fit.
Flash forward to Fall of 2016 and they’re settling into their glorious Fullerton warehouse. It features two bedrooms, a living room and a huge jam space—undoubtedly the centerpiece of the warehouse.
Graffiti artwork covers the walls up to the ceilings in the space, lit exclusively by Christmas lights. There’s plenty of floor room for a drum set, amps, guitars, even sofas for a mid-jam smoke break.
But the highlight of the warehouse is the wall they’ve erected in the middle of the main space, dividing it into two rooms. One is the control booth, the other the live recording room: the combination of the two making it an “official” recording studio.
“I helped build it, helped build the wall and do the electrics. I’m a lot better with my hands than he is,” Josh Ingalls said, smiling.
Josh is Jake Ingall’s little brother and a senior business major at Chapman. A self-described music enthusiast, Josh Ingalls was initially weary of his brother’s warehouse idea.
After seeing how happy it’s made his brother, Josh Ingalls is now fully supportive, saying Jake “only talks to me about how happy he is there.” But he still takes the opportunity to tease his older brother.
Of where Jake Ingalls sleeps, Josh said, “I mean my god, he built his bed with 2×4’s. I would be so terrified sleeping in that bed. It looks so shoddy.”
Fortunately for The Human Machine, they didn’t make the choice for comfort living. That’s not to say that it’s been without its hiccups, though. Within his first month of moving in, Jake Ingalls’ window was shattered by a BB gun, adding an unexpected expense—insurance.
“That day we made sure to buy insurance. We got insurance for all our stuff,” Jake Ingalls recalled of the experience.
Modell wasn’t even aware of this, he immediately asked, “wait, we have insurance?” The two hollered back to good friend Jazmine Alameddine, hanging out in the other room.
“Jazmine, we have insurance right?”
“Yep” she replied.
“Cool,” Modell remarked.
He smirked and bobbed his head to an imaginary beat before abruptly stopping, “wait, how much is insurance?”
Alameddine assured Modell it’s affordable. She was quiet and unassuming, sitting hunched over as though cold, despite the California fall heat. She’s friends with Ingalls and Modell and, although she’s not an official member of The Human Machine, she occasionally lends her flute playing abilities to their live sets.
Jake Ingalls thanked her, “Basically all of us owe Jazmine money, we couldn’t do all this without Jazmine.”
Alameddine fronted the band money to pay the proprietor of the warehouses—their pseudo landlord.
Ingalls and Modell described their ‘landlord’ as a “very chill guy,” who appears to just be looking the other way.
“I’m pretty sure he has a pretty good idea. He’s acknowledged the fact that other people live in this complex. He said, ‘I don’t care what goes on in your studio as long as you don’t get complaints from your neighbors,’” Modell said.
Were the residents to be discovered by authorities, there’s nothing the landlord would be able to do to prevent legal action.
Ingalls and Modell don’t have much of an idea of what laws they’re breaking. Ingalls suggested “it’s something with the building codes, or something.”
All he knows is that, for him, living in the studio is something he “wants to keep doing as long as possible.” When asked if he missed living in a normal place, Ingalls wasn’t regretful.
“Living at home I had a split mentality, but here I have been able to differentiate myself from the mentality I grew up with—like I just need to focus on my art. All the other money I make is just to pay my student loans, rent, car payments and stuff. It’s all to support me being here.”
Different from what he grew up with sounds pretty spot on. What Orange County mother dreams of her son calling an alleyway warehouse, “home sweet home?”