Pachyderm Makes a Comeback
After residential facility Pachyderm Studios opened in 1988 with its vintage Neve console and tranquil location, it became a Mecca for post-punk bands in search of great sound and a down-to-earth vibe. Highlights from the studio’s first act include seminal recordings by Soul Asylum, PJ Harvey and, of course, Nirvana.
“The live room has an iconic sound,” says studio manager Nick Tveitbakk. “You can hear it on the big records that were done there, like In Utero . Steve Albini obviously had a lot to do with that, but that drum sound is the signature sound of the room.”
The studio saw plenty more highlights and some marked lowlights since the grunge era, but it officially turned a corner in 2012 when studio owner John Kuker and Tveitbakk stepped in. Kuker acquired the, by then, empty shell of the former Pachyderm, and he and Tveitbakk worked with teams of local contractors to rebuild all of the studio infrastructure while preserving the acoustics of the live room. The now rock-solid control room was fitted with a rare API Discrete console, a Pro Tools QQ system, and a wealth of modern and vintage audio gear, instruments and amps.
Kuker’s passing in 2015 was a blow to the Minneapolis-area studio community, but his family decided that Pachyderm should live on. Tveitbakk has absorbed all responsibilities for studio management and maintenance, and he engineers and produces sessions, as well.
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Some of the recent sessions in Pachyderm have included Trampled by Turtles produced by bandmember Dave Simonett and engineered by Tveitbakk, Them Coolie Boys with the same production team, Petty Larcenist with producer/engineer Dan Jenson, and Jonah Goldenhersh produced and engineered by Sean O’Keefe.
In the Studio
Audio for the Arts, Madison, Wisc.
Providing remote as well as studio services, Audio for the Arts records Comedy Central’s comedy acts in Chicago, Minneapolis and Madison. Recently, owner Audrey Martinovich recorded performances by Josh Johnson, Shane Torres and Chris Redd. Co-owner Buzz Kemper is sound designer and FOH engineer for the Madison Symphony Orchestra when performances require amplification.
Ambient Studios, Cincinnati, Ohio
Ambient handles ADR, voiceovers and podcasts, as well as music projects. The studio is in its third year of producing the Jerry Springer Podcast, where David Prues is technical producer/head engineer, with Jim Prues as assistant engineer. On the music side, the Ronstadt Brothers (nephews of Linda) tracked live in the studio, playing the unusual trio of saxophone, cello and banjo. David Prues produced and engineered, Jim Prues assisted, and Petie Ronstadt worked on post-production/mixing.
Reynaldo Moreno’s acoustic/vocal album was tracked live and mixed by Tony Williamette, who also co-produced with Moreno at Minnehaha Recording Company. Brianna Kocka was in to mix her Dreamlife EP with Williamette and producer Holly Hansen.
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Gaslight, St. Louis, Mo.
Recent sessions at Gaslight include the Burney Sisters with engineer/producer Zagk Gibbons; Elliot Pearson with Gibbons, assistant producer JB Anderson and mixing/mastering consultant Carl Nappa; and the same production team working with rockers Dracla.
Shock City Studios, St. Louis
Shock City provided composing and engineering services for the documentary film Show Me Democracy, about seven St. Louis college students affected by the uprising in Ferguson, Mo., after the death of Michael Brown. The film documents their evolution into advocates and activists for change via policy and protest. Dan Parris produced, J.R. (So Hot Productions) composed original music, and Sam Maul engineered.
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416 Wabash, Indianapolis
416 Wabash chief engineer Mitch Lohman worked with local hip-hop artist Yung Scoop Guala. Lohman also recorded Richard Sleepy Floyd, whose band Native Sun combines elements of hip-hop, jazz, gospel and rock.
Static Shack, Indianapolis
At the Static Shack, artists who have been to work with producer/engineer Alan Johnson include Australian band Stormcellar, the Bob and Tom Show, country artist Isaac Rudd, singer/songwriter Jeff Byrd and jazz violinist Cathy Morris. Pictured with Johnson (seated) are singer/songwriter Jeff Byrd (in red) and guitarist Tony Burton.
DNA Music Labs, Madison. Wisc.
Natty Nation (pictured) was in DNA Music Labs recording rhythm tracks and vocals for a new album with producer Errol Brown and engineer Mark Whitcomb. University of Wisconsin professor and director of jazz studies Johannes Wallmann mixed his new quintet with Whitcomb, as well.
Wild Sound, Minneapolis
Started more than 20 years ago by engineer Matthew Zimmerman, Wild Sound is now owned by engineer Steve Kaul, who is assisted by Matt Holmes and Vaughn Forsythe. Sheila E was in the studio recently to work on her new album Iconic, including the complete mix with her guitarist and music director Michael Gabriel.Stone Soup, owner and lead engineer Eric Sills worked with Chicago-based jazz-rock artist Marbin. Sills also engineered an album for blues/Americana artist Andrew Ellis.
Stone Soup Recording Studios, Maumee, Ohio
Stone Soup owner and lead engineer Eric Sills worked with Chicago-based jazz-rock artist Marbin. Sills also engineered an album for blues/Americana artist Andrew Ellis.
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The Pearl, Minneapolis
At The Pearl, a vintage style studio with mostly gear from the ’60s and ’70s, Zachary Hollander engineered and mixed a new album for violinist Gaelynn Lea, who won the 2017 NPR Tiny Desk Contest. Lea co-produced with Dave Mehling, Al Church and Alan Sparhawk.
Clutch Sound, Madison, Wisc.
Clutch Sound is co-owned by producer Brian Liston, and engineers Biff Blumphengangne and Max Jewer. Recent music recordings include Kaleo and Five Finger Death Punch. The studio also installed new Barefoot Micromain 27s Gen II monitors. Clutch moved into its current facility in 2016 after temporarily occupying Butch Vig’s former Smart Studios space.
Element Recording Studios, Kansas City, Mo.
Element Recording Studios owner Joel Nanos and staff engineer Lennon Bone provide production services from tracking through mastering. Some of their recent projects include work with Sly & Robbie, Radar State, Madisen Ward & the Momma Bear, Making Movies and more.