(Jason Rudolph with the inner workings of “Dook Larue,” the animatronic drummer of “Rock-afire Explosion“)
Story and photos by Katie Meyer
Reporting for West Seattle Blog
If you’ve noticed recent activity inside the former Petco space in the Junction – Doug did, and tipped us off – here’s what we have found out:
Local resident and West Seattle business owner Jason Rudolph is currently renting the space for an indefinite amount of time to add additional staff for his technology company, Sound Advertising Group. It also gives him the room to work on “a little project that we’re doing just for fun – and if the community enjoys them, that makes it so much better!”
The project is the restoration of a 1980s animatronic band called the Rock-afire Explosion, formerly installed in a Showbiz Pizza restaurant.
Jason became inspired after seeing a documentary online that explained the history of the band, their designers, and the technology; the characters were still in use when Showbiz Pizza restaurants became Chuck E. Cheese outlets, and Jason remembers seeing them during his childhood in Federal Way.
Intrigued, he searched eBay – and connected with someone who had an entire set of the Rock-afire Explosion characters and equipment (fewer than 300 “bands” were originally created). The gear arrived from Florida this month, and Jason and his co-workers have been cleaning, testing, and updating the controls and software: “It’s actually much more nerdy than it is art.”
Charmed with the vintage gear that powers the animatronic characters, Jason and his co-workers are tinkering in their spare time with old lines of software code, drying out the air hoses that run to the control boards, and making trips to the hardware store to replace and upgrade some parts. With a backroom storing the full set of characters, parts, stage set pieces and equipment, they’re having fun as they go step by step.
When asked how long he’ll be renting the space, Jason replied that he doesn’t know for sure, but “..as long as we need it,” and he hopes to open the space down the road to participate in the West Seattle Art Walk.
(If you’re just catching up on why the Junction space is vacant in the first place – Petco moved to newer digs inside Capco Plaza at 41st and Alaska three months ago.)
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