Inside Windmill Lane Recording Studios – a studio tour full of rock n’ roll secrets
There is an old square building next to the bus depot on Ringsend Road in Dublin. It looks forbidding, a bit like a bunker.
Inside, amazing music has been recorded and mixed around the world.
by Kate Bush love dogsThe Chiefs The long black veil, The engagements soundtrack, and PJ Harvey’s To bring you my love were made here. Lady Gaga, Ed Sheeran and AC/DC recorded in the building. U2 Cup Zoorope and Popular and mixed Achtung Baby in his workshops.
I like the idea of people creating the musical story, hidden in audio bubbles as buses go back and forth outside.
Windmill Lane Recording Studios have launched their studio tour (windmilllanerecording.com; €22/€15) just before Covid hit. After this disruption, it unfolds again as an intriguing and fun exploration of a building that seems to have a story for every step (Charlie Watts recorded drums for The Rolling Stones’ Voodoo parlor in the stairwell).
We watched evocative videos, had the chance to work on a mixing board, put our ears in the place of an engineer (“That’s the sweet spot,” said studio head Aidan Alcock) and we sat down for photos on Studio One’s 72-channel Neve console. . This legendary space can accommodate an orchestra of 80 musicians; its wooden floor is also where river danceFootsteps have been recorded.
Music lovers may remember the old Windmill Lane. The original studio opened on Liffey Docks in 1978 (this is where up-and-coming U2 recorded Boy, and fans then flocked to add graffiti to the walls).
The move to Ringsend took place in 1990, to an unusual Art Deco building which also housed a Bovril factory, tram depot power station and billiard room. In the middle of this Neve desk, a ball of eight from the old tables serves as a mouse.
“If it fits, it’s meant to be,” said former owner Brian Masterson.
Good studio tours naturally focus on past glories, playing on the sizzle you get where artists sang extraordinary lines or strummed chords you grew up listening to – I’ll never forget hearing the first ones. haunting recordings of Elvis at the Sun Studio in Memphis.
But Windmill Lane is also a working building. During the tour, Studio Two was occupied by “a client”. Guesses were greeted with a wink and a smile: “We can neither confirm nor deny!”
Some may find the tickets expensive, and I thought some amps or instruments would add to the experience (bands tend to bring their own, though, as Alcock explained), or maybe a mic or two used by stars.
But our group included visitors from the US, Italy, Ireland and the Netherlands, and we all had a great time.
I was as intrigued by the small memorabilia as I was by the large studio – a framed fax from the Fugees, for example, read, “We have reservations from 11:00 p.m. to early morning tomorrow, but expect something to happen! “
The tour ends with a ghost story, a sweet and refreshing sale on merchandising and an evening spent at home looking for albums recorded at Windmill Lane.
“We must have [music]as Masterson says in one of the videos. “We can’t live without it.”