Inside Eastcote - The Legendary Recording Studios Where History Is Still Made

Inside Eastcote - The Legendary Recording Studios Where History Is Still Made
One of the mixing desks at eastcote
The mixing desk at Eastcote, which was often filled with cigarette smoke back in the day

Whether you've heard of Eastcote studios or not, chances are it's created some of the music you love.

The studios were established by Chaz Jankel from Ian Dury & The Blockheads, and young musician and engineer, Philip Bagenal, in 1980. The pair set up Eastcote in a canal-side warehouse in Ladbroke Grove, which was formerly home to Walters Manufacturing Co, an electrical company that made the parts for Morse code and telegraph systems. This place was forever destined to be filled with wires and noise.

Martin Gore playing the sitar sitting on the floor in Eastcote Studio 2 during a late night session.
Martin Gore playing the sitar sitting on the floor in Eastcote Studio 2 during a late night session. Depeche Mode and producer Tin Simenon spent 15 months in Studio 2 during the making of their album Ultra.

Over the next 40 years, Eastcote Studios welcomed and inspired a slew of great musicians: The Pogues, Depeche Mode, Nina Hagen, Grace Jones, Placebo. It's where Massive Attack laid down their seminal album Blue Lines, and where Lil Peep spent two weeks finishing up his debut album Come Over When You're Sober, Pt.1, just months before his untimely death.

black and white picture of workmen in suits and aprons at Walters Electrical Manufacturing Co
The building back when it was Walters Electrical Manufacturing Co

While other legendary London studios like The Townhouse, Mayfair and Olympic have fallen by the wayside, Eastcote lives on — used and adored today by the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Wolf Alice and Adele.

A black a white image of Eastcote Studios when it was a warehouse
Eastcote Studios before it was Eastcote Studios

In his book Like Trying To Catch Lightning In A Bottle, producer Martin Terefe looks back on four decades at Eastcote, which he now owns.

Recalling his first visit to the studios, Terefe says: "The place was like an eccentric's living room... I realised that's exactly what it was... it was one of those magical spaces that instantly make you want to be creative and leave your preconceived ideas behind. I loved it. I loved it so much that it changed the way I thought of recording forever and it would come to shape my career as a record producer."

Brian Molko surrounded by keyboards and electrical equipment
In the late 90s many of London's guitar bands recorded at Eastcote during the Britpop era, including Suede and Elastica. This is Placebo's frontman Brian Molko with a new toy in Eastcote Studio 2.

The book captures the messy sense of adventure created in the studios, which, over the years, has accumulated a vast array of musical and recording equipment, some of it state-of-the-art, some of it antique.

A busy recording schedule from 1992, covered in red scrawls
An Eastcote recording schedule from 1992

Terefe interviews engineers, producers and artists that witnessed (and created) the magic and mayhem first-hand, recalling the time Mark E Smith hoovered up cocaine from the floor of studio one, and when Depeche Mode front man David Gahan forgot an entire 18-month recording session.

Musical experiments, rock n' roll tantrums and flashes of genius are all covered, making Like Trying To Catch Lightning In A Bottle something of a must-read for musos.

Grace Jones with Eastcote founder Philip Bagenal and Ed Baden Powell from the band D’Influence in 2004.
Grace Jones recorded at the studio with producer Ivor Guest in the early 2000s. This is Grace Jones with Eastcote founder Philip Bagenal and Ed Baden Powell from the band D’Influence in 2004.

Aside from its countless anecdotes, the book is peppered with candid photos — many of which haven't seen the light for years — including the artists at work and play, and Philip Bagenal and Chaz Jankel keeping things ticking behind the scenes.

A turquoise door at eastcote

Eastcote's most debauched days might be mostly behind it but Like Trying To Catch Lightning In A Bottle suggests there's plenty of life in the old thing yet.

Lil Peep chilling at Eastcote working on his album ‘Come Over When You’re Sober Pt 1’
Lil Peep was at Eastcote working on his album Come Over When You’re Sober Pt 1 in 2017. He tragically passed away only a few months later, during his first major tour of the US.
A reel of black and white still of Eastcote
Nina Hagen by the keys in Studio 1, pulling a face
The queen of punk, Nina Hagen, recorded two albums at Eastcote with producer Zeus B Held who also brought German legend Udo Lindenberg to the studio. Nina's cast of guests in the studio was eclectic and included new wave singer Lene Lovich and Lemmy from Motorhead. Here's Nina by the keys in Studio 1.
A piano that's somehow made its way outside the studios
A piano that's somehow made its way outside the studios
Tracy Thorne with producers in Studio 1.
Tracey Thorn first recorded at Eastcote as a teenager with vocal band Marine Girls. After her successes with Everything But The Girl she was back at Eastcote regularly recording for her solo albums.
Marcus Mumford strums a guitar and records
Mumford and Sons recorded their first two albums at Eastcote with producer Marcus Dravs, including the debut Sigh No More. Since then Marcus has been back regularly for solo recording and other projects including music for the Netflix show Ted Lasso.
The studio with mixing desks, keyboards and a comfy little area for chilling
Eastcote in recent times — still with that home-from-home vibe

Like Trying To Catch Lightning In A Bottle by Martin Terefe, published by Thames & Hudson, RRP £35

Last Updated 20 October 2021