It’s gone from Sonic Youth to sonic middle-aged!
An iconic Gowanus music studio that has hosted Sonic Youth, Herbie Hancock, and the Dresden Dolls will celebrate its 35th anniversary this month with a concert and record release party featuring some of its most notable local punk, industrial, and experimental clients. The owner and producer of BC Studio said that the show, happening April 20 at Saint Vitus Bar in Greenpoint, will pay homage to the gritty, boundary-pushing sound the studio is known for.
“It’s gonna be heavy and noisy,” said Martin Bisi. “A certain amount of sonic chaos is what the studio has always been about.”
The “BC35 record release show” actually comes 37 years after Bisi first started recording music at his semi-eponymous studio in 1981 — all of the music was recorded live during a marathon session for its 35th anniversary in 2016. It has taken him more than a year to produce the album and get it ready for release, mostly because of the sheer volume of music recorded during that live session — and he is still not finished.
“It’s kind of a monster behemoth, this record,” said Bisi. “And there’s still a Volume Two that’s gonna come out.”
Bisi decided to hold the live sessions after getting jumped outside the studio in 2015, offering seats to the recording sesh to those who helped to fund his medical expenses.
The April 20 concert will feature a diverse lineup of five local bands from the album, including Nowhere Near, a band that features Bisi on guitar and vocals, and Bob Bert from Sonic Youth on drums; the industrial drone sounds of White Hills; Excop; Tidal Channel, and the melodic, overdriven guitar solos of New Old Skull — a revival of ’80s post-punk group Live Skull.
Old New Skull’s guitarist says that there is still a market for the classic New York City punk and its offspring that is BC Studio’s signature, even as indie rock has surpassed it in mainstream popularity.
“I think indie rock got multifaceted, very melodic and about musicianship as it went on,” said Mark C. “In noisy post-punk, there’s still an edginess. It’s a gut response to music, as opposed to trained musicianship.”
Another performer said that Bisi’s accommodating nature has made him a successful producer over the decades.
“He’s incredibly patient,” said Genevieve Fernworthy, who plays synthesizer, guitar, bass and electric viola alongside her husband’s vocalized poems in Tidal Channel. “Whatever you want to try, he’ll take you there.”
Bisi believes that his old-school approach — finding clients through word of mouth rather than advertising — has kept the BC Studio family close over the years.
“It’s very underground and has a certain collectivism to it,” he said. “It works outside the markets, and it’s on the cheap side.”
“BC35 Record Release show” at Saint Vitus Bar (1120 Manhattan Ave. between Clay and Box streets in Greenpoint, www.saint
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