|Location||Madison, Wisconsin, United States|
|Address||1254 East Washington Avenue|
|Town or city||Madison, Wisconsin|
|Completed||Opened in 1983|
Smart Studios was a recording studio located in Madison, Wisconsin. It was set up in 1983 by Butch Vig and Steve Marker to produce local bands. The studio produced bands such as Killdozer, The Smashing Pumpkins, L7, Tad, and Nirvana. After initial production and remix successes, the building became the focus of operations for Vig and Marker's own band, Garbage, who released their debut album in 1995.
The studio survived various mishaps, including flooding, and in 2003, a backhoe crashing through the walls of the downstairs studio. On May 1, 2010, the studio closed its doors because of financial difficulties, although in September 2013, producer and musician Brian Liston re-opened the former Smart Studios facility as Clutch Sound.
Madison filmmaker Wendy Schneider made a documentary on Smart Studios, The Smart Studios Story (2016), in which she interviewed artists, record producers, and engineers who worked in the facility. In 2012, the Wisconsin Historical Museum assembled an exhibit on the studio, Smart Sounds, Alt Music, Mad Scenes.
Selected list of albums recorded/mixed at Smart Studios
- Gary Sohmers' Windjammer: Dinosaur Rock - 1983
- Killdozer: Intellectuals are the Shoeshine Boys of the Ruling Elite -1984
- The Mess: "It's All Wyrd"-1984
- Killdozer: Snake Boy - 1985
- The Mess: "Untitled"-1985
- The Crucifucks: Wisconsin - 1986
- The Rousers: In Without Knocking - 1986
- Snowcake: Strangled/SceneZine EP - 1987
- Killdozer: Little Baby Buntin' - 1988
- Tar Babies: Honey Bubble - 1988-1989
- Laughing Hyenas: You Can't Pray a Lie - 1989
- Die Kreuzen: Gone Away EP - 1989
- Killdozer: Twelve Point Buck - 1989
- Nirvana: Nevermind – 1990 ("Polly")
- King Snake Roost: Ground Into the Dirt - 1990
- Laughing Hyenas: Life of Crime - 1990
- Rebel Waltz: ‘’The Last One To Die Is a Rotten Egg’’ - 1990
- The Smashing Pumpkins: Gish – 1990-1991
- TAD: 8-Way Santa - 1991
- The Young Fresh Fellows: Electric Bird Digest - 1991
- The Wizenhiemers: We Play For Beer - 1992
- L7: Bricks Are Heavy - 1991-1992
- The Rockin' Bones Second Chance To Dance - 1991-1992
- Walt Mink: Miss Happiness - 1992
- Chainsaw Kittens: Flipped Out in Singapore - 1992
- Paw: Dragline – 1992
- Nirvana: Incesticide − 1992 ("Dive")
- Freedy Johnston: This Perfect World - 1994
- Everclear: Sparkle and Fade - 1994
- Soul Asylum: Let Your Dim Light Shine - 1994-1995
- Garbage: Garbage - 1994-1995
- Sexepil: Sugar for the Soul - 1995
- Archers of Loaf: All the Nations Airports - 1996
- Walt Mink: Colossus - 1996
- Garbage: Version 2.0 - 1997-98
- Scott Fields: Five Frozen Eggs - 1997
- Rainer Maria: Look Now Look Again - 1998
- The Promise Ring: Boys + Girls EP - 1998
- Citizen King: Mobile Estates - 1999
- Rainer Maria: A Better Version of Me - 1999
- Garbage: Beautiful Garbage - 2000-2001
- Rainer Maria: Ears Ring EP - 2002
- Rainer Maria: Long Knives Drawn - 2003
- Fall Out Boy: Take This to Your Grave - 2003
- The Lovehammers: Murder on My Mind - 2003
- Split Habit: Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is - 2003
- Garbage: Bleed Like Me - 2003-2004
- As Tall as Lions: Lafcadio - 2004
- Hawthorne Heights: The Silence in Black and White - 2004
- Death Cab for Cutie: Plans - 2005
- Various Artists: Under the Radar Vol. 1 - 2006
- Sparklehorse: Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain - 2006
- Jimmy Eat World: Chase This Light - 2006-2007
- Tegan and Sara: The Con - 2007
- Hotel Lights: Firecracker People - 2007
- The Leftovers: On the Move - 2007
- Charlemange: We Can Build An Island - 2007
- Death Cab for Cutie: Narrow Stairs - 2007
- The Other Kids: Living in the Mirror (1985), Happy Home (1986), Grin (1990)
- Festive Skeletons: World of Difference (1997)
- Spitalfield: Better than Knowing Where You Are - 2006
Producers and engineers associated with Smart Studios
- Butch Vig (founder, producer and engineer)
- Steve Marker (founder, producer and engineer)
- Mike Zirkel (studio manager, producer, engineer)
- Chris Walla (producer, engineer)
- Sean O'Keefe (producer, engineer)
- Brandon Mason (producer, engineer)
- Al Weatherhead (producer, engineer)
- Beau Sorenson (producer, engineer)
- Justin Perkins (producer, engineer)
- Duke Erikson (producer and engineer)
- Doug Olson (producer, engineer)
- "NIRVANA STUDIOS NOW COMPLETE GARBAGE!". Nme.com. 25 September 2003. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
- David Wahlberg (January 9, 2010). "Smart Studios closing March 1". Madison.com. TownNews. Retrieved October 19, 2015.
- Michael Popke (June 26, 2014). "Clutch Sound brings music back to the old Smart Studios space". Isthmus. Retrieved October 18, 2015.
- Bob Koch (February 19, 2010). "Madison Music Scene & Heard: Smart Studios documentary; reuniting bands, Smart tapes". Isthmus. Retrieved October 19, 2015.
- Kory Grow (March 6, 2014). "Dave Grohl, Billy Corgan and More Appear in Smart Studios Doc Trailer". Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 19, 2015.
- "Wisconsin Historical Museum looks at Madison's rock past in Smart Sounds, Alt Music, Mad Scenes". Isthmus. June 21, 2012. Retrieved October 19, 2015.
- Heller, Jason (February 26, 2014). "Get Involved, Internet: Smart Studios doc will honor where Nirvana made history". The A.V. Club. Retrieved April 5, 2016.
- "Goodbye house of grunge – Smart studios to close". The Guardian. 4 February 2010. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
- Graff, Gary (15 March 2016). "Butch Vig on the Making of Nirvana's Pivotal 'Nevermind' and New Doc 'The Smart Studios Story': Exclusive Video". Billboard.com. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
- "Paw – Dragline (1993, Red Translucent, Vinyl)". Discogs.com. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
- Grow, Kory (6 March 2014). "Smart Studios Doc to Feature Dave Grohl". Rollingstone.com. Retrieved 7 December 2021.