About The Studio
Matt O’Casey is the director of Quadrophenia: Can You See The Real Me? Here, he talks about rediscovering the studio where this classic album was recorded...
"As the album is set in Brighton and west London where he grew up, I asked the band’s guitarist and songwriter Pete Townshend if he would go back to those places.
Pete was particularly intrigued by the idea of going back to the site where the band recorded the album to see what had become of it.
Curiously, the superstar Who had recorded Quadrophenia in their equipment store - a non-descript church hall on a housing estate in Battersea London.
Very different to the country house, chateau or Welsh farm every other supergroup used at the time.
In 1973, their production manager John Wolff got an out-of-work circus troupe to convert the church hall into a studio to Pete’s design.
First lesson in Who history - nothing gets done straightforwardly.
In the course of researching what had happened to the church hall, or Ramport Studio as it was christened, we found out that it was now a doctor’s surgery.
We rang the surgery and asked what was left of the studio and they said we could come down if we liked but it was really ”only bits and bobs”.
As we walked into the doctor’s waiting room there was a clue: a slanted ceiling with acoustic panels still there from the 70s.
This waiting room, we found out, had been the studio’s control room. But was this all that was left? A ceiling?
To our left were the surgery’s treatment rooms, in front of us a smiling receptionist and to the right a wall of posters advertising flu injections.
Then I spotted that the posters were taped to a glass door, a large glass sliding door.
I found the door handle under a poster and pulled it back.
There in front of me was a 50in x 30in live room untouched since the mid-80s, complete with smoked glass, parquet floor and incredibly some of the Who’s original Neumann U47 mics that had probably recorded the album.
The studio was like a timepiece that had just lain there all these years from when The Who sold it in the 80s.
A week later we brought in Pete and asked him to explore it on camera. It had been his idea and his workplace and you’ll see in the programme that his reaction was fascinating.
As he showed us where Keith Moon’s drums were set up, where the mobile bar would have sat, where the four quadrophonic speakers were hung and how loud they had them set (140 decibels) the whole place came to life.
For Quadrophenia, Ramport Studio was supplemented by musician Ronnie Lane’s mobile studio housed in an Airstream trailer.
Much of the album was recorded there – notably the soundtrack of the sea and the beach that weaves through the album.
Back at his home studio Pete played us the sea soundtrack and told us the story of how he had recorded it, driving all the way down to Cornwall and hooking up those old Neumann mics to the mobile studio in a beach car park.
This detail didn’t make the final cut but is a lovely testament to the home-made, personal nature of the album and Pete’s do-or-die spirit."