From Chisel to Yeezy: A Look At Some of the Best Music Recorded at Studios 301

With 301 involved with Abbey Road and Tuff Gong in the new Rubber Tracks series, we take a look back at some of the hits that the Sydney studio has produced.

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Jun 2 2015, 6:00am

Check out that room. Pretty sweet, huh? Imagine how good you could get the cowbell sounding after two weeks in there.

Established in 1926, Sydney’s Studios 301 is the longest running professional recording studio in the southern hemisphere. It is also Australia’s largest studio complex featuring 72 channel Neve 88R console and 72 channel SSL K Series consoles. For the non tech-heads this means it has a bunch of expensive knobs and switches that make music sound really good.

An impressive list of musicians have used 301’s knobs and switches over the years including: David Bowie, Prince, Bob Dylan, The Angels, INXS, New Zealand legends Split Enz, Kanye West, Lady Gaga, Snoop Dogg, Silverchair, and Chet Faker.

It was at 301 that McFly recorded their 2008 magnum opus Radio Active.

The studio, along with Abbey Road in London, Sunset Sound in Los Angeles and Tuff Gong in Kingston, Jamaica is involved with Converse Rubber Tracks, a new program that is giving artists the keys to 12 of the world’s best recording studios over a two week period. All at no cost.

To celebrate we look back at some of the classic albums and songs that have been recorded at 301.

INXS - Underneath the Colours
In 1981 INXS recorded their third single “The Loved One” at 301. A sexually charged cover of the rhythmically eccentric 1966 classic by Melbourne beat group The Loved Ones, the single gained some and led to the band returning to the studio later in the year to record their second album with Richard Clapton.

Although a lot less understated than their later work, Underneath the Colours shows that Michael Hutchence and band had high aspirations from the beginning.

Cold Chisel - Circus Animals
It would be curious to know if Chisel’s fourth studio album would still have topped the Australian and New Zealand charts if they had kept the working title of Tunnel Cunts.

One thing that is for sure is the band were absolutely hammered for most of the 1982 recording. As producer Mark Opitz later said: "We were doing a mountain of coke during the Circus Animals sessions. We would do monster lines of coke and then the band members would go in to do their parts. I remember one time my head turned into a helicopter and I was about to lift off and go through the control room roof."

Ah, the early 80s.

Paul Kelly and the Colored Girls – Gossip
According to Robert Forster, respected music writer and member of the legendary Go-Betweens, Gossip helped Paul Kelly create: "a sound that will not only influence future roots-rock bands but, through its directness, sparkle and dedication to the song, will also come to be seen as particularly Australian. Ultimately, it means the records these people made together are timeless"

Robert Forster doesn’t talk shit.

Kanye West – “Runaway”
“Runaway” the second single from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was partially recorded at 301 by Simon Todkill. Inspired by Yeezy’s various media controversies at the time including his interruption of Taylor Swift’s 2009 MTV Video Awards acceptance speech, it’s a song that has talent and ego crashing beautifully head on in the middle of a pedestrian cross walk.


Lady Gaga – “Bloody Mary”
Gaga co-produced every song on Born This Way including “Bloody Mary” which was recorded at 301. The title is the name Gaga had for her car and speaiking to NME said: "Bloody Mary is quite subtle actually, it's a song about Mary being divine and human at the same time, with a subtext (maybe it's not even a subtext) about the role of a woman who is supposed to be a superstar and a real woman at the same time. Not life alteringly deep perhaps but it works as a pop song.”

There’s nothing subtle about Lady Gaga.

McFly – Radioactive
English pop punk band McFly’s fourth studio album (and first on their own Super Records label) was recorded at 301 in 2008. At first the album was given away for free as a supplement in The Mail on Sunday before being released in a conventional manner. The album includes “One For the Radio” which went platinum or ‘platina’ in Brazil.

Go here to register and find out more about Converse Rubber Tracks.