In addition to the two recording suites, Paisley Park also had a massive Sound Stage larger than your average school gymnasium. Perhaps the highlight of the session happened on the evening of the first day.
I’d just finished up my drum tracks for the songs, so I was taking a break and wandering around. In the sound stage, with nothing but a guitar and a massive amplifier rig, was Prince himself. For several hours he stood in that enormous room, practicing guitar licks and testing various effect selections in the titanic space. All the while a young lackey was running back and forth from their gear storage room, delivering new effect toys for him to try out, in his effort to fill every square inch of the sound stage with that screeching signature guitar sound we’re all now so familiar with.
I tried hard not to bother him as we peaked through the crack of the door for hours, watching one of the all-time greatest performers hone his skills. The cherry on top of course was that he was wearing an outfit that looked just like one he wore in Purple Rain.
After my departure from Bone Club just a few months later, I moved back to the LA area where I started Morphius Records—before moving the business to Baltimore in the spring of ‘94.
More than a decade later, when we started Lord Baltimore Recording Studio the process involved a lot of sweat–we literally gutted 1500 square feet of space which was to become the main tracking room and control room, ripping up the floor & the walls, redoing the plumbing, adding A/C and a new ceiling.
The result was a gritty space, far from the slick look of Paisley Park, but throughout the process I thought about those days recording in Minnesota. For starters, when we were outfitting the studio we opted for the Hearback Personal Monitor Mix system. The brand choice was incidental frankly, as there were other options available that did basically the same thing, but the idea of being able to create a place where musicians could have control of their monitor mix like I’d had as a drummer at Paisley Park was something I absolutely insisted on.
And when studio co-founder Brooks Harlan (of Big Crunch) was building the diffusion panel for the back wall of our control room, the “cheesegrater” design he put together (out of unfinished plywood) bore some great resemblance to the fancy lacquered control room ceiling pattern in Studio A at Paisley Park…except for the price of course.
Meeting with house engineer Rodney Daniel this week as we discussed his latest project–putting a new floor in our second control room–it took me back to that first surreal studio experience at Paisley Park.