Rocking The Boat

All Aboard at California's Most Unusual Recording Studio

In the labyrinthine canyons of Silverlake, California, many an unassuming driver speeds past a landmark of legendary status in contemporary music. Boat Studios—so called because of its curious resemblance to a beached houseboat—was built in 1941 for the purpose of live radio broadcast, but began its modern life in 1997 when it was bought—and reinvented—by Grammy Award-winning production duo Mike Simpson (EZ Mike) and John King (King Gizmo), better known as the Dust Brothers. Given the duo’s penchant for mixing the latest in digital technology with vintage effects, instruments and recording equipment, it's no surprise that they immediately fell in love with the nostalgic stylings of The Boat. Once the keys were theirs, they proceeded to fill the space with their collection of vintage valve effects, tape recorders and microphones, as well as a formidable Pro Tools digital system. The studio’s womb-like design and cornucopia of musical memorabilia—one of the early fruits of which was Beck’s Dust Brothers-produced 2003 album Guero (2003)—have since attracted a steady stream of visitors, including Madonna, Patti Smith, Cat Power, Marilyn Manson and Broken Bells (the duo of The Shins' James Mercer and Danger Mouse). And the beat goes on: The Boat was recently purchased by die-hard aficionado Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers for private recording use.

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