So Dave Grohl has suggested that there might be a second season of Sonic Highways – and it could be shot in the UK. We’ve saved him a bit of work and made a list of the most musically important places in this fair Kingdom.
“If we went to somewhere like Abbey Road it’d be fun to interview someone like Paul McCartney or George Martin, that’d be kind of cool,” he commented. Dave, ditch your production company and follow our list of studios and cities this side of the pond, from Hackney to Hebden Bridge, to set series two.
The East London borough isn’t just home to everyone from Thurston Moore to Laura Marling, there’s a wealth of amazing new venues – Oslo, The Laundry, Oval Space – and recording studios and rehearsal spaces, including the spot where Jamie T wrote his last LP. NME’s favourite is Homerton’s Toe Rag Studios, the vintage space where White Stripes laid down ‘Elephant’.
Boasting one of the most creative communities in the country, the Yorkshire market town of Hebden Bridge recently played host to a festival staged by Heavenly Records. All We Are, Mark Lanegan, The Voyeurs and The Wytches (pictured) all played while venues like members-owned The Trades Club make for one of the greatest small scenes we’ve got.
Home of Mogwai, Chvrches and Orange Juice, Glasgow’s indie credentials have been strong for decades. Opening in 1974, CaVa Sound was the site of the recording of Belle & Sebastian’s 1995 album ‘Tigermilk’ and other notable Scots acts such as Idlewild and Franz Ferdinand have all passed through its doors. Dave would be a fool not to pop in for a visit.
Out in the middle of nowhere, in a bucolic paradise called Box, sits Real World Studios, founded by prog legend Peter Gabriel. Some of the biggest stars in the world have recorded here, including Jay Z, Beyonce and Kanye. The residential studio was home to Muse whilst they laid down 2001’s ‘Origin of Symmetry’ and Laura Marling, for 2010’s ‘I Speak Because I Can’.
An 18th century cottage near the Welsh town of Machynlleth, Bron-Yr-Aur is hallowed ground for Led Zeppelin fans – of which Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins undeniably are. The slate-roofed, stone built property was a holiday home for a young Robert Plant and his family and in 1970 the band used the residence as a retreat to write their classic album, ‘Led Zeppelin III’.
Just outside Monmouth in Wales is Rockfield Studios, perhaps the most important studio in the history of British rock ‘n’ roll. It opened in 1965, and in the 1970s saw sessions from Black Sabbath, Motorhead and Queen. Oasis spent a month and half there in 1995 recording ‘What’s The Story (Morning Glory)’ and more recently, Royal Blood recorded their debut there.
From Arctic Monkeys to Drenge, Sheffield has been one of the hottest spots in recent UK rock. We reckon Dave and the gang should take a trip to Ross Orton’s studio on the outskirts, where both Drenge’s new album ‘Undertow’ and the Monkeys’ epic ‘AM’ were recorded. He should also hit up Jarvis Cocker for a tour of Steel City before getting a pint in with Richard Hawley.
Plonked in the middle of the Thames Estuary, Canvey Island is the birthplace of 1970s pub rock. Home to Dr Feelgood and Eddie and the Hot Rods, the Essex spot also attracted visits from Elvis Costello. Julien Temple’s film ‘Oil City Confidential’ will tell Dave all he needs to know before his visit and we also suggest he gives guitar god Wilko Johnson a call.
Eel Pie Island
Birthplace of one of the 2000s most thrilling scenes, Twickenham’s Eel Pie Island was where Thamesbeat dragged itself up, with Mystery Jets at the helm and Jamie T and Larrikin Love following close behind. In the 1960s the iconic Eel Pie Island Hotel saw gigs from The Rolling Stones to The Who, with Pete Townshend opening up Eel Pie Studios nearby.