Big name artists join fight to save Liverpool’s Parr Street Studios
- 04 Jun 2020
Guy Garvey among musicians and producers demanding Parr Street Studios preservation
Elbow’s Guy Garvey, Travis’ Andy Dunlop, PiL’s Jah Wobble and a host of other musicians and producers have joined the fight to save Liverpool’s world-renowned Parr Street Studios, which developers threaten to turn into luxury apartments if officials don’t step in.
The city centre building that houses the studios and two venues is currently subject to a planning application for redevelopment.
But now a raft of international music names have stood in support of protecting the Grammy Award-winning studio facility, which has hosted household names including Bjork, Grace Jones, Coldplay, Motorhead, Stereophonics, Blossoms, Justin Bieber, Rihanna and many more since opening its doors in 1991.
Elbow frontman Guy Garvey has spoken passionately about the famous studio, saying: “Liverpool can’t lose this jewel. Parr Street has to be preserved. It’s one of the few precious cathedrals to music creation and production left.”
Garvey’s full statement, along with those of many others can be found at the bottom of this release.
A group called the ‘Friends of Parr Street Studios’ has been established – which includes many of the musicians voicing their support.
The Friends of Parr Street Studios are now calling on Liverpool City Council to consider Parr Street Studios as a community asset – a building with cultural importance to both the city and the music economy of the UK. They have submitted a formal application to council under the Localism Act of 2011 and Assets of Community Value (England) Regulations 2012. Their objective is to allow a community-backed alternative bid to enable the studios to continue to promote Liverpool’s music scene.
The Liverpool City Region Music Board has also stepped in to support, calling for all parties to work together to secure a viable future for Parr Street Studios.
Made up of 16 local members and observers from across the music industry, the Liverpool City Region Music Board was formed to support and grow the music economy in the Liverpool City Region, and to give music businesses and communities in the Liverpool City Region a stronger voice in local and regional decision making.
It issued the following statement:
“Parr Street Studios is a cherished and vital part of Liverpool’s music eco-system. Beyond that, it is a studio with global recognition and, as such, enhances Liverpool’s reputation as a music city.
“As part of Liverpool’s artistic history and legacy, studios are an essential part of our ecology and crucial to the continuing success and growth of Liverpool’s music sector.
“Parr Street Studios was purpose built. It is not something that can be replicated elsewhere. Beyond that, the internationally recognised brand of Parr Street is something that has taken 25 years to build. This would be destroyed overnight. There are many other buildings within the city that have undeniable cultural value and are protected as a result. Parr Street Studios should be recognised with the same importance.
“We are supporting the application by the Friends of Parr Street and want to work with the building’s owners to help find a solution that works for them, the city of Liverpool and our esteemed music community, as well as the global music business.
“It’s vital that we work to save what is a crucial part of the city’s musical legacy and its ongoing development as a world class UNESCO City of Music.”
Quotes in support of Parr Street Studios
MPG – Music Producers Guild
“Parr Street is one of the most important recording studios in the UK, and a vital part of Liverpool’s cultural infrastructure. Losing one of Liverpool’s historic studios would not only reduce work opportunities for artists, producers and engineers, it would also cut off routes into the industry for the next generation. We urge the authorities to honour Liverpool’s unique musical heritage by doing everything in their power to allow Parr Street to continue as a studio.”
Ken Nelson – Producer for Coldplay
“Parr Street Studios has been in business since 1991. Numerous successful recordings have been made there. The studios have a unique sound and many, many bands, artists and record producers have been attracted to the facility for that reason alone. The artists I have personally recorded at the studios include Coldplay, Paolo Nutini, Badly Drawn Boy, Callum Beattie and Kings of Convenience to name a few. The studios are being run as a successful business and there are many people who would lose their jobs as a consequence of the building being demolished. The studios hold an important place in the history of music making in Liverpool and it would be a travesty if this disappeared.”
Ben Hillier – Producer for Blur, Elbow and Depeche Mode
“Liverpool quite rightly prides itself on its musical heritage. Parr Street Studios is a significant part of that heritage. More importantly, it is a living part of that heritage.
“I made four albums in Parr Street early in my career. The exciting, nurturing atmosphere and world-class technical facility provided a perfect environment for me and the bands I worked with to create those records. They then served as a foundation for those bands to grow into internationally successful artists with all the associated revenue from touring and sales.
“Since then, Parr Street Studios has evolved to adapt to the modern music industry, adding live venues and bars serving as places for young, up-and-coming bands and artists not only to make their music but also to promote that music. The fact that this all exists right in the centre of the vibrant city of Liverpool with all its musical history is unique and must be preserved.”
Guy Garvey – Elbow, BBC Radio 6 Music
“With Ben Hillier, Elbow made our first two records at Parr Street Studios – and those records remain the most original intricate and soulful that we’ve made. We discovered what we do there. It shaped us for the career to follow and was quite literally the time of our lives.
The excellent design of the studios is only one element. It welcomed us in to the heart of the great city of Liverpool. A place that feeds the creative soul with its history and culture. Working in a city that prioritised what we did opened a universe of crackling, breathless possibility and gave us the confidence to experiment in our writing and in the production. Liverpool can’t lose this jewel. Parr Street has to be preserved. It’s one of the few precious cathedrals to music creation and production left.
While the music industry had largely abandoned its new artists in recent years as the world changed from physical sales to streaming, income is slowly becoming fairer and I see a day on the horizon when artists can once again afford to hire producers and use their mysterious vital skill set and use these amazing spaces properly again. Nigel Godrich once compared losing these places and the passed down art of high-end studio production to losing painting or sculpture. These places make music better. Love music. Love Parr Street. Parr Street’s history alone should be enough to protect it. What will be lost to future generations if it closes is incalcuable.
Andy Dunlop – Travis
“I’m gutted to hear about the plans for Parr Street Studios, I dearly love that studio and the sound I’ve got there when recording tracks. Not only would it be a blow to the Liverpool musical community (I’ve called Liverpool home for the last 14 years) but a blow to the UK musical community also, as it is a world class sounding studio.
“Studios are so much more than just the gear and the flashing lights, they embody a spirit that is engraved into their very soul from the years of great music made there, and Parr Street has one of the best spirits. You could move all the fixtures and fittings into a room exactly the same shape and size somewhere else and it just wouldn’t be the same.
“I know what it’s all about, it’s all about money isn’t it, but what about cultural richness? If any city council should understand that, it’s Liverpool’s, what with the heritage of amazing music that has been born here. A hotel or a flat can be built anywhere but a studio is a living breathing thing. It has stories to tell and, when it tells them to the young bands starting out and stepping into them, it makes them feel like they can step into those shoes and follow in their heroes’ paths. Don’t take that away from them.“
Jennifer John – Creative Director, Choir Leader, Music Mentor
“The preservation of Parr Street Studios is really important in Liverpool’s musical history. It has seen a huge array of global artistry pass though its doors and some iconic albums have been produced there. In addition, it has also been the birthplace for the work of many emerging artists who without it, may never get to experience a service that is exemplary and location that is historic. Parr Street Studios part of Liverpool’s musical DNA.”
Tony Platt – Producer/Engineer for AC/DC, Cheap Trick, Bob Marley & Motorhead
“Liverpool has probably the most iconic music related landmark in the country – the Cavern – so it is very difficult, if not impossible, for another one to make it onto the list. The exception is Parr Street Studios. Parr Street is a real studio, a creative space that manages to balance the technological requirements of music recording in such a way that people become inspired, and that inspiration can be captured for posterity.
These spaces are not conjured up out of thin air, they develop from years of service. Parr Street is to Liverpool what Abbey Road is to London and to tear it apart would be a criminal act of vandalism. I recently heard the mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, on TV telling how the re-invention of the city was built around its cultural heritage – Parr Street is an integral part of that heritage.”
Ian Broudie – The Lightning Seeds
“It’s a shame that a city like Liverpool, with it’s fabulous musical and artistic heritage, is so quick to throw away the jewels of its culture while they are still creating wonderful treasures and inspiring new generations. Parr Street Studios is another example of this and should be guarded fiercely.”
Mike Cave – Lewis Capaldi, Professor Green, Foals, The Charlatans, Fatboy Slim
“Parr Street Studios is the hub of the Liverpool music industry. Its loss would be a tragic blow for the city’s musical heritage! Such history within its walls. So many great records and such an inspiring environment for up and coming artists to create the next wave of our city’s music.
“Parr Street Studios gave me a successful career as a multi-platinum award winning record producer, enabling me to work with incredible artists travelling to Liverpool from all corners of the globe. It’s a facility that allows me to bring high calibre artists to Liverpool on a regular basis. Without it I’d be forced to work outside of the city.”
John Withnall – Engineer for Coldplay and Rihanna
“It’s amazing that Liverpool spawned the Beatles but we as a music city have been so much more since and, if we get rid of Parr Street Studios, we get rid of one of the big things that makes this city cool.
“Between 2001 and 2008 I worked in Parr Street with a whole host of international superstars including Coldplay, Rihanna and Paolo Nutini plus a plethora of local legends such as Echo & The Bunnymen and The Coral. Since my time there, it’s had the likes of Drake, Bieber and Blossoms through the door. If we let this building go, we let one of the things that makes us really relevant and a massive part of our musical history go!”
Anton Newcombe – Brian Jonestown Massacre
“It is absolutely essential we work together to save Parr Street as it is. It has been an irreplaceable asset to creatives from the North of the UK, and beyond, since Genesis owned it through the Bunnymen, Oasis, Ladytron and countless others. In this time of great need, let us not throw our culture away so needlessly. I can think of no other business that needs that space.”
Daren Quayle – Parr Street, Audio Maintenance Engineer, 96-02
“Liverpool is a city drenched in arts, culture and music. How is this great city expected to lead in the latter without being guided by Parr Street Studios? Trusted, this brand and this iconic building not only picked up the gauntlet left by Amazon Studios, they turned it up to 11. To take this place away from the city and its people is stealing more than jobs and memories, it’s ripping the ‘rock and soul’ out of the country’s most creative city. Something that we won’t get back, something that Liverpool has been building since the 50s.”
Mike Hunter – Producer / Engineer for Marillion, Manson, Embrace
“It’s unimaginable that a City like Liverpool should lose its main recording studio and be replaced with a few new flats that nobody wants or needs. Lots of special bands and artists grew and bloomed in those rooms over almost three decades and to have that heritage wiped out would be a travesty.”
Jah Wobble – Public Image Limited
“I loved working at Parr Street. Great place, great people. If it was too close it would be a bloody shame. It’s iconic.”
Ronnie Stone – The Mighty Wah
“Parr Street Studios, like Amazon before it, provided a service outside of London initially for Northern bands. The Smiths, The Bunnymen, Teardrop Explodes, Dead or Alive, Christians and many more. It provided the opportunity for local talent to develop into world-class award-winning engineers and producers. With residency and a vibrant Liverpool, it was great for international artists to come to work in the city of the Beatles! Would Liverpool FC be walking out to ‘Heart As Big As Liverpool’ if it hadn’t been recorded in Parr Street? They knocked the real Cavern down. Don’t make the same mistake again.”
Will Sergeant – Echo and the Bunnymen
“Parr Street is a major studio in the history of pop/rock music. The story of this building will only grow with time. If this stupid plan goes ahead, tourists will look upon some crappy flats and be told by their tour guide “this is the spot that the legendary Parr Street Studios stood.” Not only is this building home to world-class studios, but it is also home to several small independent businesses based in music, art, design, culture – the very things that gave Liverpool a massive boost in 2008 Capital of Culture year. You wouldn’t be building anything in the city without the arts as a foundation. Places like this are Liverpool’s heart! A few people will make some money, Liverpool will lose so much more.”