Band revives legendary Bristol Coach House recording studio

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Written by:   | Posted 07-November-2014 9:44

A Bristol band have revived the legendary studio where Massive Attack and Portishead recorded their debut albums – 15 years after it was closed.

The Coach House studios is where Massive Attack came to record seminal tracks for Blue Lines in 1991 and Portishead recorded Dummy in 1994.

Despite its history the studio closed due to financial pressures in 1999 and the building has since gone through a number of private owners.

Now, Bristol rock band Armchair Committee have brought the studio back to life to record their own debut.

The three-piece had been looking for a space they could use to record their first full-length release earlier this year.

Singer and guitarist Tom Hackwell placed an advert on Gumtree in the hope of finding a room to rent which could be converted into a studio.

He had not had much luck until he received a reply from the current owner of the Coach House, who offered to let the band use the disused studio rooms while the rest of the building is being refurbished.

When the band visited the property on Richmond Hill Avenue, they were amazed to find the studio’s wood-panelled, acoustically-treated live room, control room and vocal booth were just as they had been in the 90s.

“Getting to look round the studio for the first time was nuts,” said Tom, 25, of Granby Hill, Clifton.

“We were just thinking ‘this is the place – this is great’. The Coach House was once massively relevant and pivotal to the trip-hop scene. It is brilliant to have been able to rejuvenate the studio for our album and make it useful and relevant again.”

The band – which also includes bassist Dave Larkin and drummer Dan Frost – kitted the place out with a new digital recording setup before starting work on the album.

“In the period leading up to the recording session, we rehearsed there every other day and wrote roughly one third of the album in about two months,” said Tom.

“We spent three weeks recording the final tracks in July.”

The album is now being mixed and mastered in London by engineer and friend Brendan Davies, and the band plan to release it early next year.

Since forming in 2011, Armchair Committee have earned strong reviews in Kerrang! Magazine and the Huffington Post and played shows with the likes of chart-toppers Royal Blood. Their first single, Sick/Bay, was partly recorded at the Coach House earlier this year and released by independent label Secret Chord Records. They have also recorded a cover of Portishead’s All Mine for a charity compilation album due to be released next year.

“All Mine is my favourite Portishead tune. It was really weird covering it in there,” said Tom, who works as a patient transport supervisor at Bristol Royal Infirmary by day.

The studio was designed and built by recording engineer Andy Allan following the closure of his previous studio, the Cave Studio in St Pauls, in 1985.

Housed between rows of Georgian townhouses and overlooked by the University of Bristol Students’ Union building, the Coach House opened its doors in 1989, and quickly drew in musicians from the city and further afield.

Blue Lines put Bristol’s unique club culture on the map.
Massive Attack brought together an eclectic mix of soul, hip-hop and dub on their debut –which found commercial success and critical acclaim on its release in 1991.
The album has since come to achieve iconic status, and has been named one of the greatest albums of all time by top music magazines including Q and Rolling Stone.
Rising from Bristol soundsystem outfit the Wild Bunch, members Grant Marshall (Daddy G), Robert Del Naja (3D) and Andrew Vowles (Mushroom) came together as Massive Attack in 1989.
When they began to put ideas together for their debut, the Coach House proved to be the perfect place for them to get their production efforts on to tape.


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