Dude York Wins Studio Time
Earlier this year, Converse, the 107-year-old sneaker company based in Boston, put out a call to independent musicians: Submit a demo and you might win recording time at one of a dozen prestigious studios around the world. From some 4,000 entries, 80 bands were chosen, a pool of international talent for the Converse Rubber Tracks program that included three bands from Seattle: Smokey Brights, Glass Animals and garage-rock trio Dude York. On Sept. 24, Dude York cashed in their winnings and luxuriated in a full day of recording at Avast! Recording Co. in Greenwood.
From the outside, Avast! looks like any other ’70s-era, ranch-style home in this leafy residential neighborhood. But since its original founding in 1990 (and its subsequent relocation from Fremont to Greenwood in 2008), the well-appointed studio has hosted crucial sessions by Fleet Foxes, Band of Horses, Tori Amos, Soundgarden, Bikini Kill, Death Cab for Cutie, Modest Mouse and many more.
Today it’s hosting yet another influential musical veteran: Thurston Moore, leader of indie-rock icons Sonic Youth, was imported from New York by Converse to act as consigliere during Dude York’s session. The band wasn’t aware of his visit until the night before, and even then singer/guitarist Peter Richards thought drummer Andrew Hall was kidding when he texted the news.
“It became clear it wasn’t a joke when he walked in the room, but up until that moment it was fiction as far as I was concerned,” Richards tells me later.
The carpeted, wood-paneled Studio A control room feels like a set piece from Archie Bunker. Moore is folded into an old couch, flanked by Hall and Dude York bassist Claire England. Moore is lanky and boyish in a T-shirt and jeans, though at 57, he’s old enough to be their dad. Despite only knowing each other a few hours, the rapport between the three is casual. Each is wearing Converse shoes in varying states of newness.
On the other side of the control-room glass, Richards belts into a microphone the lyric For the record I was waiting for something to happen! again and again, making minute changes in inflection to the satisfaction of the engineer in the control room, another Converse import. Over the course of some eight hours, Dude York finishes tracking an upcoming single and records vocals for several other songs. Converse foots Avast!’s usual $850 daily fee.
A few weeks later I catch up with Richards and Hall over the phone. Though they were typically dry and detached that afternoon at the Avast!, now they describe the galvanizing effect it had as the band readies its next EP and full-length releases in the coming months.
“It ruled!” Richards says. “What a great surprise having Thurston Moore show up. And that room—it makes sense to me how so many great records get made there.”
“It feels like kismet,” Hall says. “It made everything [in our work flow] go a lot faster. Now we don’t have to look at so many emails about scheduling time.”
Moore, they say, was more career coach than music producer, not so much contributing to the musical goings-on but imparting wisdom about being a working artist with a decades-long career.
“His firsthand take on the ’80s and ’90s and even the late-’70s first wave [of punk music] was very cool,” Richards says. “He’s this consistent, art-concerned guy. That really struck home. That’s how I think of us—three dudes interested in art, making music.”
Bands can continue to apply for time at Avast! through Converse’s Rubber Tracks program until early 2016.