sleepy jubilee – eight track

Sleepy jubilee – eight track

We have all been there, you are standing outside your favourite indie disco, smoking and talking about how Johnny Marr is the greatest guitarist ever and how Joy division could have been better than The Beatles, you have given some pretty obscure music knowledge out and people are starting to think you might be cool when suddenly some dick in stupid glasses and probably a vest asks, “What’s your favourite recording studio?”


You’ve tried thinking, but you don’t know any in London other than Abbey Road and that’s no way obscure enough, everyone knows it, you know a few local ones you may have used yourself once but they are too small and insignificant and if they are outside London you will be laughed back into the club where you may even have to dance.

Here’s the solution to your problem, Toe Rag Studios.

Toe Rag Studios is located in Shoreditch, and what makes it unique, or rather did make it unique before lots of people started to copy it, is all the equipment is analogue. Analogue equipment is of course expensive as it is hard to get hold of, but this didn’t stop founder Liam Watson who has claimed “there were loads of [cheap digital studios] opening up all the time and then closing down every week because they didn’t really offer anything unique”.

Toe Rag only uses 8-tracks in recording, and all is recorded onto magnetic tape, meaning for a true retro sound it is perfect; however the limit of 8-tracks is likely to put off the likes of Radiohead or Animal Collective recording there.

For years Toe Rag was generally unheard of but became famous when The White Stripes used it to record Elephant in 2002. White was full of praise for the old school techniques in place “I love that place. Just the absence of computers and Pro Tools and digital technology. I can’t stand all that crap. It’s just horrible, a horrible way of attacking music and there was nothing like that in that place just the real gear, the right stuff.”

Over the years there have been so many good albums to come out of Toe Rag often by cult heroes.

Billy Childish is known as a legend at Toe Rag Studios. The guy is a nutcase. If you read his Wikipedia profile it has him down as an English artist, painter, author, poet, photographer, film maker, singer and guitarist, quite a resume. Childish has spent years recording countless albums for countless different bands often at Toe Rag Studios. My personal favorite band of Billy’s is the Chatham Singers, who roped in Graham Coxon to play guitar on there albums.

The Chatham Singers – Demolition Man

Childish also discovered another legend of the Studios, and a Sleepy Jubilee favourite, Holly Golightly, who joined his girl group Thee Headcoatees in the mid-nineties. Golightly went on to record more than 20 albums in the next 15 years, the majority of them being done at Toe Rag.

Unlike a lot of other recording studios, there is very much a family atmosphere at Toe Rag, with many of the acts returning again and again to record, and often collaborating together. Sir Bald Diddley, Fabienne Delsol and The Fire Department are all regulars.

Fabienne Delsol – Catch Me a Rat

Garage, rockabilly, ska, surf-pop, and folk are genres that Toe Rag has been known to produce. Pete Molinari is a prime example of a young act who is heavily influenced by those that have gone to Toe Rag before him, he sounds straight out of the 50’s, but at the same time can deliver a live show that can really get the crowd going.

Pete Molinari – It Came Out of the Wilderness

Toe Rag’s garage stylings have influenced so many acts, which is why it is still producing great new acts to this day, The Cribs recorded their first self titled album in 7 days at Toe Rag, and have gone onto big things, The Kills also recorded their first album “Keep on Your Mean Side” at Toe Rag and have developed the garage punk blues sounds ever since.

Those are just a few reasons why Toe Rag Studios is the coolest studio going. I hope that they go on and on and on for a long time, making as many good records in the future as they have in the past.

Old, new, retro or modern, Toe Rag can do it all, as long as you only need 8 tracks.


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