10 years ago there was a house near Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield that was at the centre of the city’s music scene. Wakefield, just like its big sister nine miles up the road, was a living amidst a golden time for musical productivity, with bands like The Cribs and The Blueskins beginning to garner rare attention for the city from the nation’s music press.
Back then there was a Leeds University campus based at the beautiful Yorkshire Sculpture Park in Bretton, just down the road. Bretton College brought many people to Wakefield to study subjects such as fine art, visual art, music and creative writing – two of whom were Lee Smith and Jamie Lockhart.
Greenmount Villas was spotted by Lee and Jamie in Summer 2000. The house had a tower and pillars outside the door and by 2001, they’d moved in. Filling the attic with recording equipment and an assortment of instruments, the pair recorded various bands and artists over the next few years. As the records and bands got bigger and better, the studio moved to a new home, sharing occupancy of a beautiful old chapel with Interplay Theatre.
Away from being part of the Greenmount team, Lee is best known for playing bass in ultra-happy hip-hop quartet Middleman. His recording/production credits include The Cribs, Submotion Orchestra, Pulled Apart by Horses and work for E4 and Channel 5.
“It started in a house in Wakefield but now it’s in a converted church in Armley,” Lee tells me. “We rent the space from a company called Interplay who are an awesome theatre company.”
Jamie has probably at some point or other played with every person who can play an instrument in Wakefield and the surrounding towns, often as part of his solo project Mi Mye. Jamie’s credits also include Pulled Apart by Horses, Post War Glamour Girls, The Cribs and Piskie Sits.
Since 2011, they have been joined by Rob Slater (formerly running Irene Cottage Studios), who also growls and strums with The Spills, another one of Wakefield’s finest bands of the past decade.
For the past few years virtually every band in Wakefield has recorded with Greenmount. When asked about his proudest records, Lee struggles to find an artist that doesn’t feature in his list – “Post War Glamour Girls, Piskie Sits, Hayley Gaftarnick, Runaround Kids, Eaves, The Cribs, Pulled Apart By Horses, Submotion Orchestra, The Spills. You know what? There are so many of them that we love I could go on forever. There are almost no records that leave the studio that we aren’t proud of.”
There has always been a beautiful warmth to Greenmount’s recording – the echoes of the chapel seems to seep into every song – as well as the obvious use of analogue for “the classic sound that we love“. Greenmount is a predominately analogue studio with 2” tape on a 3M M79 tape machine through a 1970s MCI console. The mix of new and old is what attracts so many artists to Greenmount – it’s all about the past and the future.
“We’re not just analogue – we use Pro Tools and work through the tape machine onto the computer. We don’t necessarily chase a specific style – we take elements from all over. Ethos is as important to us. We have so much cool stuff! We’ve been collecting through friends, Ebay and classified ads for over ten years now.”
When I asked Lee about which artists he particularly enjoyed working with, he couldn’t decide. “Every artist we have ever worked with has brought a new thing to the studio. We always have fun. It’s the best job in the world.”
And the future? “We’re about to lay into so many new albums. We’re currently booked ‘til November! It’s awesome! We’re looking forward to the new Spills album, the new Post War Glamour Girls album and more film work too. We’d love to record Blacklisters as we’ve always loved those guys, and maybe Kyle. Yeah, they’re the two big ones: Kyle and Blacklisters.”
Greenmount has an extensive list of clients including bands, artists, publishing and media organisations. For a full equipment list and to read more on Greenmount, head over to their website www.greenmountstudios.com.
Filed under: Music