Like many good things in music, the Airship Laboratories story begins in the ’70s. Recording studios were a profitable enterprise in those days, fueled largely by FM radio’s thirst for the hot new thing in rock and well-funded record labels’ willingness to casually drop millions on productions. In this fertile climate, the already flourishing Bay Area studio scene seemed ripe for a new facility. Enter audio legends Jack Crymes and Tom Anderson and original owner Steve Suda.
The two industry vets, themselves key figures behind engineering and construction efforts at Sausalito’s famed Record Plant and San Francisco’s Hyde Street Studios, found an ideal space out by the bay in a quiet industrial section of Richmond, CA. The name Bayview Studios came easy, but the construction effort was no simple matter. One walk through the Airship demonstrates perfectly the scale and seriousness of the studio’s original build-out. Expert acoustic treatment, extensive isolation, dynamically alterable reflection profiles—the Airship is a classic case of “they just don’t build it like that anymore.”
Given the elite build-out, pleasant location, and superb collection of gear (early highlights were the first Trident A-Range console and a pair of mint-condition EMT plate reverbs in a special isolation attic), Bayview quickly became one of the most esteemed studios in California outside Los Angeles, with early clients essentially spelling out a Who’s Who of California and national rock, jazz, and blues icons.
Needing to keep pace with changing technology and personnel, the mid-’90s saw another major retrofit. Again, Jack Crymes was heavily involved in the design, benefitting from consultation with famed recording engineer Karl Derfler. It was in this period that Bayview moved to a two-control-room format, which we now call Studios A and B. Today’s Studio B was the original control room, but the ’90s saw the renovation of a former downstairs rehearsal room into Studio A, which quickly became Derfler’s primary workspace for nearly a decade. This period saw some of Bayview’s most celebrated work with artists, including No Doubt, Metallica, Tom Waits, the Doobie Brothers, David Grisman, Jerry Garcia, and many more.
In 2011, current studio owner Neil Godbole took over from Suda. Godbole, himself a bay area vet, cut his teeth at Hyde Street, but was eager to strike out on his own. Airship Laboratories is the result of this dream. It blends the timeless construction of the big-budget days with the cutting-edge technology and production flexibility expected in a contemporary digital-first audio-production landscape. With the arrival of Engineer and Arranger Nahuel Bronzini in 2016, Engineer Reto Peter along with Producer Ed Clare and Studio Manager Chris Hughes joining in 2018, Airship Laboratories is poised to continue to host world-class recording, video, and multimedia projects well into the future, with an acoustic space and vibe second to none.
-Jonathan Herrera (Bass Player Magazine)