Local recording studio continues fundraising to restore famous console

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Notable bands have recorded at London Bridge Studios in Shoreline
Photo by Steven H. Robinson

By Joe Veyera

From Alice in Chains to Pearl Jam, to One Republic and Death Cab for Cutie, Shoreline’s London Bridge Studio has played host to numerous notable names in the music world since opening nearly 30 years ago. (See: Notable recordings at London Bridge)

Now, the studio located just off Ballinger Way has turned to the community as it attempts to raise $75,000 to refurbish their console — a 1973 Neve 8048 Mixing Board — that took over 2,500 hours to fabricate and hand wire when it was first built.

“The intricacy of it, it’s fascinating,” said Eric Lilavois, one of the studio’s three co-owners, of the console. “But it requires a whole lot of maintenance.”

Carson Lehman, Geoff Ott, Mark Cardenas
Photo by Steven H. Robinson

After being used almost daily since its installation when the studio opened, the console has needed more frequent, costly repairs in recent years, and now needs to be completely refurbished. The board is one of only a few left across the country and around the world.

“It’s become this iconic piece of gear that is worth more parted out than it is all together,” said co-owner Jonathan Plum.

Lilavois said he, along with Plum and third co-owner Geoff Ott, dismissed the idea of replacing the soundboard with something new, because of the Neve’s history and place in the studio. Combined, the recordings made at London Bridge with the Neve sold more than 25 million records.

“We just said, this thing is too special, and it’s too big a part of what we’re doing,” Lilavois said.

Memorabilia wall
Photo by Steven H. Robinson

Raising recording rates was also off the table, because they wanted to keep the studio affordable and accessible to the community. Plum said ultimately crowdfunding was their only option.

“When we really thought hard about ourselves, the studio and what we love about the studio, we wanted to go for it and try to make this work,” said Plum, who began working at London Bridge in 1990, before teaming up with Ott to purchase the studio in 2005.

After raising more than $22,000 from over 250 donors through a two-month crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, the studio is continuing to fundraise on their website to reach the $75,000 mark.

The Neve's backlit, plexiglas frame
Photo courtesy London Bridge

For $35, donors can get a “Team Neve” T-shirt featuring the schematic of the console, while at the $250 donation level, donors can get their name and hometown permanently engraved on the Neve’s new plexiglass, LED backlit frame.

For Theresa Sanchez, who has served as a fundraising and social media volunteer for the campaign while living in Washington D.C., it was a fortuitous set of circumstances that led to her involvement. During a trip to Seattle for a Pearl Jam show, Sanchez toured the studio and ran into Lilavois. The two “hit it off” according to Sanchez, and remained in touch, with Sanchez getting involved as a consultant as the fundraising began.

Musicians waiting to lay down a track
Photo by Steven H. Robinson

Sanchez said it would be a tragedy if the community wasn’t able to pull together the funds necessary to restore the console.            

“You can have analog and digital, but you can only do that if you still have analog around,” Sanchez said.
The Neve
Photo courtesy London Bridge

If and when the funds are raised, Plum said each part of the board, which is modular, will be removed and shipped out a few pieces at a time to be worked on over the course of about six months. A team will come to Seattle to work on the interior parts of the console that can’t be done remotely.

“Once the console is done,” Lilavois said. “We hope to be able to keep it around for another 30 years for the next generation to enjoy it.”

Reporter Joe Veyera can be contacted at joeveyera@comcast.net. Twitter: @JosephVeyera


Anonymous,  June 3, 2014 at 11:01 AM  

London Bridge is a business, not a charity. $75,000 for 30 years at 5% would cost less than $14 a day.

Anonymous,  June 3, 2014 at 2:34 PM  

From looking at their website it appears they are ashamed to be in Shoreline. Everything says they are in Seattle. Even the article above says the techs will come to Seattle. Shoreline is not Seattle... If you want support from the local community it would be best to be honest about where you are located.

Anonymous,  June 3, 2014 at 4:34 PM  

While I think their mixing board is very cool, their community is not comprised of Shoreline residents but instead of musicians and they have stated even though their mixing board is part of their special appeal as a studio, "raising rates is off the table." Well, as a Shoreline resident who admires their efforts but will never use their services, I say: good luck with that.

Anonymous,  June 3, 2014 at 5:13 PM  

The community referred to is the local recording artist community.The Shoreline angle on this story comes courtesy of SAN contributors Joe Veyera and Steven Robinson. Just Google "London Bridge Studio" and "console" and you will find this fundraiser mentioned all over the place, but with no mention of Shoreline.
I kinda doubt London Bridge is targeting Shoreline. That is SAN being SAN. It may not even be intentional on SAN's part. In localizing the story, they perhaps inadvertently localized the fundraiser.

Anonymous,  June 4, 2014 at 4:58 PM  

I would like to see the members of the bands that have collectively sold 30 million records chip in and get this done! (come on EV, it's a good cause!)

I assume by community they are referring to the GLOBAL music community - this is one of the very few Neve consoles left in the world.

For the real locals in shoreline, did you know that people come from all over the world to tour this facility because of the history! If you haven't ever been in a professional recording studio you should go and check it out! its also really cool to see all the gold and platinum records plaques on the walls!

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