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Kitty Dunn

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R.I.P. Smart Studios

smartstudioI was sad to learn over the weekend that a little piece of Madison music history is about to fade away..with the closing March 1st of Smart Studios, on East Washington Avenue. The studio started by Garbage's Butch Vig and Steve Marker some 20 years ago can claim some pretty famous clients..most notably Nirvana, and Nine Inch Nails. The studio also did some remixes for some pretty big names too--like U2, Beck and Alanis Morrissette. (Oh yeah--Garbage recorded their 4 albums there too!) Checking out Smart Studios' website, I ended up taking a trip down Madison Music Memory Lane. A lot of local bands recorded there too..some that are still around--like Honor Among Thieves, Phat Phunktion and Natty Nation. But remember these bands? Mel Ford and the Fairlanes, Paul Black and the Flip Kings, Marques Bovre and the Evil Twins, Common Faces, Free Hot Lunch, Cornelius Klein and Mad Trucker Gone Mad all recorded there too. Some contenders for Freaky Band Name of the Week are on the client list too--including Green Hornet Lunchbox, Liquid Bonedance, Whompity Wickershams and Barstool Prophets. The story in the newspaper said a decrease in big label bands made it tough to do business in recent years..so they're calling it quits. I'm sure the fact that computers have made home recording more affordable didn't help them either. I'm bummed for all the local artists who will no longer be able to record at a place that's so revered in Madison's music history.  Sidebar: I did get to tour Smart Studios a few years back..and enjoyed looking at the album and CD covers on the walls, and all the gear. And I remember there was a glass window with a piece of paper on it, perhaps a Post-it note. And I was told that it was there because of Marie Osmond. Apparently she was there laying down some tracks, and she walked right into the glass..not seeing it...and she smacked her nose. The paper was there to prevent others from doing the same thing.  So I got to touch the glass that touched the nose of an Osmond. Jealous?

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01/11/2010 8:01AM
R.I.P. Smart Studios
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01/11/2010 8:17PM
Terrence
I blame Butch on this one. It must not be worth that much to him. I think he should work harder to keep it afloat. Just because Garbage can't make money, that should not reflect on the studio. Invest more time in better bands, open up the possibilities that not every album recorded there will turn to platinum, but the fact that a band can make a good sounding album with real equipment, isn't that of value? Let alone the history of sounds absorbed into those walls, I mean, come on! Where are the wealthy music fans? If I had the money, that place would remain open. Doesn't somebody have disposable income for this investment?
01/12/2010 8:49AM
Wendy
Maybe if they weren't trying to make money off bands with names like: Green Hornet Lunchbox, Liquid Bonedance, Whompity Wickershams and Barstool Prophets, they'd stand a better chance. The 90's are waaaay over...pathetic attempts at being clever by haphazardly throwing together unrelated words to create a band name reveal a lack of creativity.
01/12/2010 11:32AM
foundation
This is indeed terrible news, albeit not surprising. Most of the industry has been reduced to an iPod sized caricature of its former greatness. From greedy old executives desperately pointing fingers and reality show cast-offs posing as celebrities to the death grip of Apple and iTunes, it's all just a swirling path of chaos closing in on the eventual collapse and of it all. Only when that happens can something new and great begin to sprout through the wreckage. I, for one, intend to stick around and find out. p.s. I like the name Barstool Prophets.
01/12/2010 12:33PM
Domenica
The recording studio business has always bee a tough one.,,even with a success like Garbage. Many bands can afford the studio rates and the studio is left with accounts receivables. hard to pay for expensive recording equipment with no cash. True- the technology revolution has made it possible to record at little or no cost in your basement or garage. Radio play-lists (in general)neither allows for the airing/streaming of little known, new music nor the interviewing of the artists. Difficult to get "mainstream" exposure. This fragmentation of media into what I call media splinters has contributed to the demise of the major label recording studio business model. Sad for the Madison music scene, yes. Will it stop music from being created? Luckily not, as long as there are creative juices flowing in the human body. Music is a universal language. Nice article, Kitty.
05/05/2010 7:09PM
Kyle
This was sad news! I was in Green Hornet Lunchbox....Wendy thanks for the love! "Lack of creativity"? How about this for a band name... WENDY BITCH FROM THE AMPULLA OF VATER...? Ha!
02/09/2011 3:59PM
kolenkoz
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