Exploring the only-in-Big-Sur Red Barn Recording Studio.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
The cavernous space that is Red Barn Recording Studio was originally constructed in the early ’70s as a private haven for The Beach Boys to hang out, write music and get the hell out of Los Angeles. Nestled in an isolated canyon just before Pfeiffer Beach, it’s far from a typical spot to make and record music, but it continues to enchant musicians of all kinds, from jazz trumpeter Roy Hargrove, who recorded Roy Hargrove With Strings at Red Barn, to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who recently used the studio to practice and write new tunes.
The creative oasis represents a two-decade ambition for Jardine that became a reality in 1989. The barn features a live-end/dead-end studio with all the bells and whistles and then some, including a separate control room and playing area mounted on mechanical rubber so no walls touch the exterior and transfer sound, a five-ton air conditioner, dimmers with track lighting and speakers delivering 1,200 watts per channel to the control room.
“It’s overkill – you really don’t need all of this,” Jardine says. “I mean, if a truck were rolling by it wouldn’t vibrate the internal structure.”
When you enter the more than 1,000-square-foot structure, it’s apparent that Jardine’s Mecca is much more than a top-of-the-line recording studio, it’s a part of rock and roll history, and definitely a fun place to just hang and have a few beers. The walls are plastered with concert fliers, at least a dozen gold records and black-and-white photos spanning five decades of Beach Boys mania.
As he strolls through his realized dream, Jardine’s eyes grow wider with each musical memory made within the wooden walls. He walks over to the far end of the main room, where Chili Pepper drummer Chad Smith recently had his kit set up, and smiles as he points out the wood shavings strewn on the ground, left over from Smith’s drumsticks.
“I really wanted to bring light into this place and be totally isolated from the rest of the world,” Jardine says.
Jardine has accomplished the goal of bringing light into a rustic barn. As that radiance continues to draw musicians, the music they create there generates a light of its own.