The Village has always had a great West L.A. location and a great history; these days it also has a great buzz going. Celebrating 35 years in business, the Santa Monica facility is one of the very few studios that has successfully combined high-profile rock and pop projects like Nine Inch Nails, The Wallflowers, 'N Sync and Aerosmith, with new artists such as Hoobastank and Sixpence None the Richer, as well as work for film and television scores including Almost Famous, Moulin Rouge, Ali and HBO's Six Feet Under.
The ability to reinvent itself is one of the main reasons that The Village has been vital for so long. Established in 1968 in a multistory former Masonic Temple, it was the creative vision of musician, technical innovator and television music composer Geordie Hormel. By 1972, it had already become one of the top Los Angeles studios, hosting the likes of Steely Dan, the Allman Brothers, Joni Mitchell, and Sly and the Family Stone. By the late '70s, The Village had established its reputation, and the walls became lined with Gold and Platinum records — from the Rolling Stones' Goat's Head Soup to Supertramp's Breakfast In America.
Long known for its homey, artist-friendly atmosphere, the facility recently underwent numerous cosmetic and technical renovations, including the acquisition of a vintage Neve 72-input 8048 desk for Studio A, Pro Tools HD systems linked with a Fibre channel SAN, and, in 2002, the installation into Studio D of one of the first Neve 88R consoles.
Studio D, on this month's cover, was redesigned by Vincent Van Haaff in 1978 for Fleetwood Mac, who camped out there to record Tusk. It boasts a large control room, a capacious recording space with five iso rooms, and audio and video tielines to the building's second floor and its 4,000-square-foot performance space, complete with stage, drapes and chandeliers. Over the years, D has welcomed long-term projects for such artists as Eurythmics, Tom Petty and Brian Setzer, as well as numerous movie soundtracks. And although Village CEO Jeff Greenberg won't disclose it, it's an open secret that for much of the past two years Guns 'N Roses has been ensconced in D working on the mysterious Chinese Democracy.
Greenberg consulted with many of his clients before committing to the 88R, at the time an unproven entity. “I chose the 88R because I had clients, like Rick Rubin, who work in Studio A and love the sound of our vintage Neve 8048,” he explains. “I found out that Neve was working on a new analog desk with Robin Porter, who, with Rupert [Neve], was involved in the original 8048s. They sent us some preliminary modules, and I had clients, like Steve Kempster, Nathaniel Kunkel and Al Schmitt, do listening tests. The reports were that it was going to be an extraordinary-sounding console.” The 88R's remote 1081 and Air Montserrat mic preamps were also a factor in the choice, as was its surround capability.
With Studio B's Neve VSRP, a favorite for scoring work, The Village's main studios are all Neve. The upper floors of the 26,000-square-foot facility have their own bustle, with artists-in-residence at various times including Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, Robbie Robertson, Keb Mo' and Nancy Wilson. In addition, the Van Haaff-designed Studio F, outfitted for surround with Pro Tools HD, has hosted, among others, Melissa Etheridge, Master P, Missy Elliott and Mya.
Past projects have contributed to its glory, but The Village remains vibrant today. In the past year alone, clients have included No Doubt, Korn, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters, Bon Jovi, Ry Cooder and Rickie Lee Jones, as well as soundtracks for White Oleander, Gods and Generals, Road to Perdition and A Mighty Wind, featuring members of Spinal Tap.
“Lately it feels like The Village has become a community,” Greenberg comments proudly, “sort of like the Brill Building in New York in the '50s. We really do strive every day to completely satisfy every client. We know we're here to help artists capture those golden moments, and we never forget how lucky we are to be in this business.”