Fort Apache Studios

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Fort Apache Studios is a New England recording studio internationally renowned for alternative rock sessions produced there since 1986. The studio is currently located in the village of Bellows Falls, Vermont in space leased in an old hotel called The Windham, owned by the town of Rockingham, Vermont, within which Bellows Falls is located. The studio was first located at 169 Norfolk Avenue, a warehouse in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. Fort Apache relocated its facilities above the Rounder Records warehouse and offices on Camp Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1988. An early business card of the studio showing its name as "Fort Apache Studios" is displayed on Joe Harvard's Boston Rock Storybook: Fort Apache South webpage, although the studio is often referred to as simply "Fort Apache."

Among the many major groups and artists who have recorded there over the years are the Pixies, Radiohead, Rubyhorse, Superdrag, Come, Juliana Hatfield, Throwing Muses, Belly, Tanya Donelly, Buffalo Tom, Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh, The Lemonheads, Volcano Suns, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Elliott Smith, Eleventh Dream Day, The Connells, The Specials, Blake Babies, Weezer, Yo La Tengo, Warren Zevon, Dirt Merchants, The Shods, Spore, Blameless, and many more.

The studio was initially built by a collective begun in 1985 by musician/producer Joe Harvard and members of a band called the Sex Execs: engineers Paul Q. Kolderie, Sean Slade, and Jim Fitting. Harvard briefly became sole owner, and the studio became very active recording Boston-area indie-rock groups in 1986. The studio soon upgraded its early 8-track Roxbury facilities to 16-track equipment.

Producers affiliated with the studio in the 1980s and 1990s included Lou Giordano, studio manager Gary Smith, Sean Slade, Paul Q Kolderie, and Tim O'Heir. Smith brought the Pixies to Fort Apache to record their legendary 1987 demos later known as The Purple Tape and also produced several of Throwing Muses' 1980s albums there. Smith became a co-owner of the studio when it was moved to its 24-track Cambridge facilities in 1988. Eventually, in the 1990s, Harvard sold his ownership interests in the studio to partners Smith and Billy Bragg and departed. Fort Apache also hosted a recording label in partnership with MCA Records in the mid-1990s.

In 2002 Gary Smith, who by then was sole owner of the company, moved the studio from Massachusetts to Bellows Falls, VT, while continuing to operate it under the famous Fort Apache Studios name as well. Since then, Paul Kolderie and Sean Slade have continued to run the original Fort Apache studio location under the name Camp Street Studios. For fifteen years, Smith used "Fort Apache" as the name of a multi-faceted company that operated the studio business, a concert promotion business, and a business managing artists such as Juliana Hatfield, Tanya Donelly and Natalie Merchant. From 2002-2006, Fort Apache additionally operated a music venue in the lobby of The Windham Hotel, where it recorded and broadcast nearly 200 live concerts. The concert venue was originally the brainchild of Smith and Charlie Hunter, owner of the Bellows Falls booking agency Flying Under Radar.

In 2007 operations in Bellows Falls were suspended and Smith moved the studio and management offices to his farm nearby in New Hampshire.


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