After more than three months of construction, contributing writer Tom Laskin reports in the City Notes column that Steve Marker and Butch Vig are reopening Smart Studios at a near-east-side location that represents a great leap forward for their venture. "In the old studio it was getting really hard to compete with anybody," Vig explains, "because we'd have to say, ‘Well, all we have is a Tascam eight-track machine, and we have a really funky space." The new Smart boasts a 16-track recording studio downstairs and a computerized eight-track production studio upstairs, affording Marker and Vig the capacity to record everything from musicians' albums to commercial jingles and videotape soundtracks. "Cost was a factor in some of the equipment we ended up getting," Marker says. "We could've maybe swung a two-inch 24-track machine, but the tape runs $130 for 15 minutes, and that just shoots a lot of bands who don't have the money to spend $500 just on tape. And we didn't want to lose that end of our business, because that's where a lot of the fun is." Smart proceeds to thrive, attracting projects by the likes of Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Sonic Youth and Garbage - Marker and Vig's own band, featuring vocalist Shirley Manson and guitarist Duke Erikson.