Brief History Of Kings Lane Studio
The Aliens (with
Pierre Baroni) moved up to Sydney from Melbourne in late
1980 we were looking for somewhere to rehearse. Our friend the
Ladyman (and brother of my wife Jude)
had a studio on the second floor of the old abandoned Sargent's
Bakery in Darlinghurst which was bordered by Bourke St., Burton
St., Palmer St. and Kings Lane. He told us about the old refrigeration
room out the back in Kings Lane that was being used as a rehearsal
room by a band called "Atla" and when they left we
took it over. Although it seemed barely habitable, we did a
bit of cleaning up and that became our rehearsal room.
The Aliens broke up and although unaccustomed to manual labour,
I went away and worked on a building site for a few months and
saved enough money to renovate and refurbish the place, building
walls and installing air-conditioning, carpets and soundproofing.
In the brief period before the studio became a recording facility
it was a rehearsal room. I had had unending noise complaints from
"Ian The Potter", who lived in the derelict terraces
above us, so I was determined to seal it properly.
first band ever to use the brand new space was a trio called
Viola Dana which consisted of Peter
Blakely - vocal/guitar, Mal
Green (ex- Split
Enz) on drums, and Chris Bailey
on bass. The new varnish inside the airtight studio hadn't quite
dried when I rented them the room and I must say they emerged
a little shaky with a greenish tinge when I came to let them
out three hours later. Jude and I rented a house at 58 Thomson
St. Darlinghurst which was at the top of Kings Lane on the other
side of Bourke St. which was very convenient.
had heard through Bryon
Jones (pre- Rockmelons)
of a fellow called Gary Kurzer who owned a lot of recording
equipment. Gary was an architect but he was also a musician
and we came to an arrangement where by I provided the space
and he provided the gear and we split the proceeds. His original
8-track and later the 16-track (Fostex B-16) was a great improvement
on the 4-track cassette deck I had been using to that point.
Although I'd never had any training as a sound engineer, I learnt
as I went along.
the dream of owning a recording studio was primarily about having
somewhere to record my own music, it became so popular so quickly
that all the paid recording I was doing for others plus my live
band commitments left me scant time to use it for my own ends.
In fact by 1985 I was touring with GANGgajang so much that I
had to bring other people in to run it for me. Initially it
was the inspiring Jeff Cook (who also did some engineering)
and later Ian Amos, who tried in vain to run a tighter
ship and increase our return. I produced an album at Kings Lane
for Ian's band, "Some
Kind Of Justice" featuring Peter Millynn. (Peter
and I would later have a hell of a lot of fun writing a film
script together called "Feedback" ).
also added two new engineers. Brian Hall who was a very
quiet, intelligent and sensitive guy who was quite technical
in his approach and was a very good engineer and Chris Betro,
who was also a very good engineer but was much younger and more
open to the spontaneity of the moment. Greg Webster, Mal Green
and Dorian Dowse also stepped in as engineers from time
to time. We recorded so many demos, singles, EPs and albums
for bands over the eight years. It was almost never empty.
to the bunker like rooms of our studio, there were four other
rooms which people (usually with the help of Jeffrey Cook)
managed to renovate and turn into studios. At various times
these studios were occupied by Music Key, the music software
development team of Ray Lade and Jeffrey Cook
doing incredibly innovative work for the time, Gary
Pepper's Music Studio, Greg Webster's cave-like
studio where I seem to remember he polystyrened the walls. That
was later taken over by Frank
Kerestedjian and expanded and augmented, (as only the
can!) There is no stopping Frank once his mind's made up and
he took over the adjacent garage laying wooden floors and walls
and it ended up looking and sounding "fully professional."
an artist called Franco Marinelli and his mate Craig Hemmings opened
a very cool cafe on the corner of Bourke and Liverpool St. and it
proved to be a godsend for the studios. Great coffee and food
almost any time you wanted it and you just had to run up the
stairs and you were there. It was also some where for us to
take a break and you'd run into people like journalist/editor/musician
Toby Creswell or the writer Bob Eagle. Perhaps
you'd chat to the inimitable Jeff
Duff or musician/actor extraordinaire Simon Eddy
from "The House" on the opposite corner. (The location
for GANGgajang's "House Of Cards " film clip).
were a couple of natural disasters along the way. The studio
(or the cold storage room as it used to be) was literally dug
into the hill and unbeknownst to us, next to "the tank
stream". This was an underground stream that ran down to
Circular Quay, and one particularly wet winter in 1986, it burst
it's banks and flooded the studio. No one was in there at the
time and the next morning it was an eerie feeling to open the
door to see so much of our electronics underwater and our horrified
faces reflected in the small lake that was the floor.
the other end of the diaster spectrum there was a fire in 1988
that completely gutted the place. It was really terrible. Mercifully
no one was hurt, but it melted everything. It was like a Salvador
Dali painting. Melted everything. Desks, chairs, monitors,
everything. When we were finally able to get it up and running
again, we went all out, with new gear, new couches, new everything,
and it was a great little studio to get very creative in.
the famous to the infamous and the not very famous at all, so
many people from that time in Sydney used the studio in one
way or another. GANGgajang,
Bailey (from the Saints),
Baker, Box The Jesuit, Wall
Of Voodoo, Some
Kind Of Justice, Gulf Club, Pump and many many more.
I suppose it culminated in Peter
Blakely writing his number one hit single and Aria award
winning song of the year "Crying In The Chapel" down
mid 1989 we had word that "The Japanese" had bought
the building and demolition of the old Sargents Bakery, in fact
pretty much the whole block, was imminent. We were out of there
by October that year, and it was indeed the end of an era...the
eighties in fact.
view of the original Kings Lane Studio can be seen on The Complete
GANGgajang DVD in the "extras" section of "Gimme