In a band? Check out Leyton’s new rehearsal studios

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It’s home to what may well become known as the ‘Leyton sound’, says Adam Hallows

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'' Photo: AU
Stuart Griffin: ‘We had no choice but to move from Stoke Newington.’ Photo: Nicola Arber
“It was a bit wilder back then, not quite so many coffee shops.” And so goes Stuart Griffin’s reminisces of starting his Audio Underground rehearsal studios in Stoke Newington, 15 years ago. “But once the rents got too big for the landlord to ignore, we had no choice but to move on, and it was pretty clear that places like ours are only going in one direction.” And that way, as we can see, is Leyton.

You’d be forgiven for walking past their new site, nestled quietly behind Leyton Leisure Centre, but in just a few months they have built a number of practice rooms already helping signed acts prepare for international tours and new bands hone what may well become known as the ‘Leyton sound’.

“I do see a lot of similarities with Stoke Newington though,” continues Griffin, an unassuming guy who’s spent most of his life around musicians, but seemingly without letting it affect him. “The all-girl bands that practice here told me loads of their friends are moving here too, one of the things that got new businesses starting up where we were before.”

So when he’s not busy moving, building, fitting, plumbing, soundproofing or one of the many other ‘stressful’ realities of starting again, what gets him excited about what’s coming through the door?

“Gizmos,” is the answer. “Back when I started it was all analogue, but now you’ve got kit that helps bands create an electro-yet-totally-natural sound that just wasn’t there before.”

Assuming this is where the rose-tinted glasses would come out, for those wilder pre-Criminal Justice Bill days where he’d rent out space for raves, or to dub poets like Linton Kwesi Johnson, I’m proved wrong. “I’m no Luddite, I think it’s good! The sounds I hear coming out of the rooms are brilliant, really good musicians using new technology to make great music.” Maybe it is the Leyton sound he’s hearing? Even if he was talking about a band signed to west London’s Dirty Hit Records.

So as I leave him searching for a pair of drum sticks for an aspiring musician not quite old enough to vote, I find myself thinking that if ‘it’ is indeed only moving in one direction, then I’m glad it’s this way.

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Head to Twitter (@AU_Studios) for Audio Underground’s contact details. They’re open 7 days a week for bands large or small.

Adam Hallows is a local copywriter based in Leytonstone. Visit his website here

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