Monday, 19 October 2009

Fort Apache

If you are of a certain age, and have a certain liking for American alt rock, then a few people and a place are synonymous with the genre, namely Gary Smith, Sean Slade, Paul Q. Kolderie and Fort Apache Studios.

Fort Apache Studios began in Boston in 1986 but relocated to Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1988 before coming to rest in Bellows Falls, Vermont in 2002. Originally started by Joe Harvard and a mixture of people including Sean Slade, Paul Q Kolderie and Jim Fitting. Harvard effectively was the de facto owner until his partnership with Gary Smith began when the studios moved to their second location. In the 90’s Jim Harvard severed all ties completely when he sold his part of the businesss to Gary Smith and Billy Bragg.
In 2001 Gary Smith became the sole owner and shortly after moved Fort Apache Studios to its current home.
Kolderie and Slade initially stayed on at its Cambridge location and have since started their own studio, Camp Street Studio.

Taillights Fade by Buffalo Tom

Paul Q Kolderie still produces at Camp Street, whilst Gary Smith diversified into management and concert promotion. 2007 and Gary’s management is down to a single client, the wonderful Tanya Donnelly, The concert promotion has ended and It seems that Fort Apache is no more.

Fort Apache from the early days of the Pixes to random US 12 inches always had a presence in my record collection, not just the studio, but the production team of Kolderie and Slade and the management of Gary Smith. Chances are that you would look for one name, and the rest would follow.

Caribou by Pixies

My life could be traced through their discography, and it was never intentional, it just so happened Fort Apache recorded the bands, the music, the songs that I liked, from Pixies, Buffalo Tom (Bill Janowitz it seems acted as realtor when selling off the original studio), Mighty Mighty Bosstones and the sublime Pinkerton by Weezer. And that is just a fraction of what they did. Pick any name connected to Fort Apache and their legacy is monumental.

The Good Life by Weezer

In 1995 they released an album, “This Is Fort Apache”, setting out their stall or a call to arms, either way it was very indicative of what was happening in underground American rock at that point, before Brit pop spoiled it all.

So it is with sadness that as I looked into the partnership and saw that it had eroded some time ago without a bang or a wimper, that it didn’t seem to be celebrated for it’s contribution, that the protagonists are no longer together and sadly, Fort Apache appears to have breathed it’s last. Quite sad really.

No comments:

Post a Comment