Iconic local recording studio seeks public money to save music

SHORELINE, Wash. -- The recording studio behind some of Seattle's biggest sounds is seeking help from the public to hit a high note.

London Bridge Studio, which has recorded albums for Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Fleet Foxes and more, has created a modern, crowd-funding campaign to help restore their vintage soundboard.

The 1973 handmade Neve console is believed to be one of just a few intact on the west coast, said London Bridge co-owner Geoff Ott. After 41 years of rock albums and rap stars, it is in desperate need of repair, so the studio owners have created an online crowd-sourcing campaign to raise $75,000 to fix it.

"It's kind of magical," Ott said, of the soundboard. "It's the main matrix. It has all the signals that go through it. Obviously we like to say the musicians are important and the producer and the engineer are important, but we just couldn't do it without the board."

The studio, located off of Ballinger Way in Shoreline, is where Pearl Jam recorded their 1991 record "Ten," which helped launch the Seattle band into stardom. Other bands such as Blind Melon, Alice in Chains, Temple of the Dog, and Death Cab for Cutie have also used the studio to record iconic albums.

"The old guard says, 'music isn't the same after digital,'" said musician Owuor Arunga, whose trumpet work is featured on the single "Can't Hold Us" by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. "Technology becomes a medium and it's almost part of the creative process as well. It's like a secret weapon. It's like a secret ingredient."

Arunga belted out a few notes on the trumpet Wednesday while Ott fiddled with the board. He then lifted out panels to show how they were hand-soldered, with capacitors, resistors, and more. Each panel will be sent to a repair shop in Minneapolis to be restored while others are still in use, so that recording can continue while the console is being refurbished.

Ott said the studio decided to try an online fundraiser in lieu of increasing rates for artists.

"It's really important for us to be accessible so that people from the community can rent the space. They come in, they use the space, they can afford it," Ott said. "Music impacts people so much. We don't want to lose that."