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Nirvana's In Utero studio site in Cannon Falls overhauled

An award adorning Pachyderm's walls: Gerardo's Mo' Ritmo
An award adorning Pachyderm's walls: Gerardo's Mo' Ritmo
Photo by Reed Fischer

Pachyderm Studio was once an ever-expanding source of rural Minnesota trivia. The complex, tucked away behind some trees on a quiet country road near Cannon Falls, hosted many legendary recording sessions. Lore surrounding Nirvana's In Utero, PJ Harvey's Rid of Me, and albums by local heroes including the Jayhawks and Soul Asylum all took place in this two-building country home that looks like it'd be the home of some killer barbecues.

In recent years, the profile of the studio lowered significantly. Several of my friends' jam bands have also recorded lengthy, psychedelic sessions there that certainly didn't make them stars. And when I visited there in late 2009 -- my father was tuning a piano in the "hallowed" space that day -- it was hosting an elderly couple laying down tracks for some classic hymns.

Fortunately, the space is getting a huge makeover by John Kuker, who launched studio ventures in New York and Los Angeles under the name Seedy Underbelly after a start in Minneapolis, according to Star Tribune's Chris Riemenschneider. The space will lose the Pachyderm name, and will likely be called Seedy Underbelly North. It'll greet visitors with a wealth of needed improvements to the property, which had sagged into disrepair as the record industry did a similar nosedive over the past decade.

Local songstress Haley Bonar's Golder from last year was the last album recorded in the space, and noise-rockers Gay Witch Abortion are expected to get the first crack at the Seedy revamp in a few weeks. Here, we can see those framed record (and tape) awards from many of the studio's past clients (as well as clients of ex-Pachyderm producer Tim Andersen): Mudvayne, Soul Asylum, Nirvana, the Beavis & Butthead Do America soundtrack, the Set it Off soundtrack, Gerardo, Ice-T, House of Pain, and the Judgment Night soundtrack. And, that's a lizard named Franky in the lit cage.  

Nirvana's In Utero studio site in Cannon Falls overhauled
Photo by Reed Fischer


The big question mark is whether the Island Records recording console, one of the most valuable assets of the property, will get to stay. Kuker is considering selling the high-maintenance item to reinvest in the space, but assures us that the new equipment will not diminish any of the studio's capabilities and it will not be an all-digital facility.

Updated: After a few exchanges with an eagle-eyed commenter, Gimme Noise spoke to Kuker. The console I photographed below (the Neve 8068 Console, which was once in the Electric Ladyland studio) is not the piece of equipment in question, and is no longer in the space.
 

Nirvana's In Utero studio site in Cannon Falls overhauled
Photo by Reed Fischer


If selling prized equipment ensures many more seasons of creativity at the Pachyderm site, then it'd be a worthwhile move. The remoteness of Cannon Falls does provide some serenity and clarity that an urban setting can't possibly replicate. And if you get bored, you can always head over to Quik Trip, buy Reddi-Wip and do whippets all night.

See this old promotional video:



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