THE CHURCH STUDIO 1972 - 2006
The Church Studio, on 3rd and Trenton here in Tulsa, has closed down. This is a very small sampling of some moments from our Mock Heroic recording sessions that took place there back in 1999. Our good friend Mr. Steve Ripley not only made the Church available to us for that album, but he and his wife Charlene took care of us above and beyond the call of duty, which included everything from repairing our guitars to providing us with groceries. There was a kitchen and den in the basement where we hung out between takes and whatnot. We had a Nintendo 64 setup, cable TV, and an auxiliary studio for additional songwriting and arranging while some of us were upstairs recording. The producer/engineer of the album was Gavin MacKillop. His assistant was Trent Slatton. The band, Gavin, Trent, Steve & Charlene all pretty much lived together at the Church for several months during the making of the record.
There is of course the really long history beginning in 1972 when Leon Russell founded The Church Studio. There is also quite a bit of history between the Ripley family, The Church Studio, and Admiral Twin that we won't fully detail here because it would take too long. However, here are some highlights: A previous incarnation of the band, then known as Mellowdramatic Wallflowers recorded several demos at The Church back in the early 1990's. Both Unlucky and Creatures of Bread & Wine were transferred to analog tape there by Steve Ripley before being mastered and put on to CD. Admiral Twin has done numerous promotional photo and video shoots there over the years. The band recorded backing vocals there for Steve's solo album. And then of course the real highlight being the recording of Mock Heroic, which took place from about early spring through late fall of 1999. Although to clarify, we actually started the album with another producer before bringing Gavin on board in the summer. At that time we scrapped everything we'd recorded and started over. And for those who came in late, also at that time we were a quartet: Mark, Jarrod, & John, joined by Brad Becker and his many talents. And, we were under contract with Mojo/Universal Records. Here's a look inside the making of the album. Bear in mind that this is a brief glimpse and perhaps some day we'll have the wherewithal to prepare a more detailed retrospective.
One more thing... You can't really tell by the photos, but this studio was home to a plethora of beautiful vintage recording equipment and musical instruments, all of which were available for us to use. The walls of the studio, hallways, stairwells, etc. were lined with nostalgic signs and memorabilia from Steve's band The Tractors and some of the numerous projects he'd worked on. Of the equipment there, one can only say that there was everything you ever wished for and more. Guitars, amps, drums, percussion, keyboards, pianos, microphones, recording gear, and on and on. The place literally was a magical museum of vintage gear.
Photos by April B. Russell & Jarrod Gollihare.