Top band release songs recorded in Trowse

JON WELCH They're one of the biggest bands in the country, with six top 10 albums to their credit and huge fan base across the world. But when the Manic Street Preachers wanted to record some tracks, they turned to a little-known studio just outside Norwich.

JON WELCH

They're one of the biggest bands in the country, with six top 10 albums to their credit and a huge fan base across the world.

But when the Manic Street Preachers wanted to record some tracks, they turned to a little-known studio just outside Norwich.

The band recorded five songs at Purple Studios, Trowse - some of which feature as bonus tracks on their latest single Autumnsong, released this week.

Studio owner Richard Hammerton could not believe it when he received a call from the band's manager asking if the Welsh three-piece could come and record some tracks.

“I thought it was a wind-up at first,” said Richard.

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“We've had people ringing up before saying 'Can Michael Jackson come down? He's in Trowse, at the bakery'.”

This was no joke, however. The band - singer and guitarist James Dean Bradfield, bassist Nicky Wire and drummer Sean Moore - had a couple of spare days before their gig at the UEA on May 23 and wanted to use the opportunity to record some B-sides for future singles.

They brought with them producer Dave Eringa and a truck full of instruments and recording gear.

“There were so many flight cases, and you should have seen all the guitars lined up in the hall,” said Richard.

“Dave told me one of the reasons they came here was that we have an old 1974 Harrison desk and they recorded their first single on exactly the same desk.

“The set-up here, especially our live room, was very much like the place they used for some demos back in Wales.” The band are by far the biggest stars to have recorded at Purple Studios. “We're just a provincial studio. I didn't think the Manics would choose to record here over a chateau in France or a Jacobean mansion in Oxfordshire,” said Richard, who hopes to sell the studio shortly and move to Brazil.

He saw the Manics in the early stages of their career at Norwich Arts Centre on May 15, 1991 - a gig that would go down in the rock history books.

Afterwards, the band's guitarist, Richey Edwards, was being interviewed by radio DJ Steve Lamacq, then a music journalist. During the conversation, he took out a razor and carved the slogan “4 REAL” into his arm, requiring 17 stitches.

A photograph of his horrific wound became one of the most memorable and iconic images in rock.

The troubled musician disappeared in February 1995. His car was found near the Severn Bridge, a notorious suicide spot, but his body was never found. During the recording session at Trowse, some of the band's fans found out their heroes' whereabouts and waited outside. The band were happy to go out, sign autographs and chat.

Lol Eaves, the studio's resident engineer, who worked alongside the band at the session, said: “They were absolutely incredible. They are so professional and good at what they do, and I learned a lot from Dave.

“Sean, the drummer, came across as really shy, but when he went in to play his drums he was incredible. He did the five songs in two hours. He was solid as a rock.

“Seeing these guys sitting there in a chair with just one microphone was amazing. They had no airs and graces at all. It seemed as though they were more than happy to be here and they loved the ambience of the place.”

Lol, 25, is looking forward to hearing the finished tracks, and hopes the visit of the Manics will help the studio pull in more stars.

“It's possible it will help bring in bigger and better bands. We've got a nice live room and some nice old, vintage equipment. I think it will raise people's expectations.”

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