Sean Moeller refused to get sentimental Thursday night.
"I think we've been dealing with the death of this place for a long time now," Moeller said, as equipment was being hauled out of the Daytrotter studios in downtown Rock Island, nicknamed the "Horseshack."
"Just the visible qualities of this place scream for not getting too sentimental," the Daytrotter founder said of the 65-year-old studios of the former WHBF AM-FM radio stations and the independent music website's home since February 2006.
A piano, amplifiers and desks were among the larger items that Moeller and a crew of at least a dozen were loading into a U-Haul truck waiting on 17th Street in Rock Island.
The new home for the studio and its website will be in downtown Davenport, which Moeller says is about three times the space of its Rock Island home.
"It's exciting to think of what we're going to be able to do at the new space," Moeller said. "There's so many damned possibilities that it's hard not to be more excited than sad that we're moving on."
The new home is in the Renwick Building, a 118-year-old structure at 4th and Brady streets. The upper floors were refurbished into 18 loft-style, luxury apartments in a project by Amrit and Amy Gill of Restoration St. Louis in a $4.5 million project.
"If anything else, I think we have a more sonically capable studio," Moeller said. "We should have better recordings. That's sort of the idea."
Original plans for the new Daytrotter home were to include a performance venue along with the studio space. Moeller said he couldn't comment on a timetable for the performance area, approximately 250-300 seats, to open.
Offering a performance space, recording session and even luxury accommodations at the nearby Hotel Blackhawk, also owned by Restoration St. Louis, would be an incentive for more well-known acts to stop, Moeller said.
"I think we're going to get a lot of people who will play our space for a lot less than they normally would because they're getting kind of the double-bang," he said. "The (website) user won't necessarily see that change, but they're going to see some higher-caliber people coming to the Quad-Cities and do a Daytrotter session where it makes sense to spend the whole day here."
Patrick Stolley, a former Daytrotter co-owner and longtime sound engineer, was assisting with the dismantling of equipment Thursday. Stolley first rented the space in 2004 for his Future Appletree Studio, and suggested it to Moeller as Daytrotter's first home.
"They've got some work cut out for them to humanize the new spot," Stolley said of the Davenport spot. "It's very cool, it's very new — but it has to get 'lived in' somehow. It has to have that vibe."
Moeller said he does take hundreds of memories with him from the Rock Island spot, including watching the Blind Boys of Alabama, with hands on the shoulder of the man in front of them, climbing the steep, three-story staircase to the studios; helping to carry wheelchair-bound singer Vic Chesnutt up the stairs; and having the band Vampire Weekend return several times, often just to eat at Huckleberry's Famous Pizza & Calzones, located at the foot of the staircase, without even recording at Daytrotter.
Daytrotter has introduced its 30,000-40,000 daily subscribers to musical acts such as Mumford & Sons, Bon Iver, Nathaniel Rateliff, Jason Isbell and the Lumineers before they hit it big nationally.
The names of Moeller and Daytrotter have been used to produce shows at Rozz-Tox, Rock Island; the Village Theatre, Davenport; and Codfish Hollow Barn, outside Maquoketa, Iowa.
Moeller plans to have the new studio in place and ready to record by Oct. 12.
He said he was reminded of the mystique of the Rock Island studio by the lead singer of Edison, a Denver band that recorded the last of approximately 4,000 sessions on Tuesday night.
"She's been listening to Daytrotter for sort of her whole getting-into-music life and it was a moment for her to get to do this," said Moeller, 37. "To end it that way, with someone who was positively influenced by this thing we've been doing for almost 10 years — that's one of those moments that kind of make you think 'This is why we're doing this.'"