Nestled away in Louth, Lincolnshire, Dave Formula, (aka David Tomlinson ), sits at the control desk of his brand new recording studio, The Sweet Factory. “This has been over 20 years in the making. The new studio took 14 months from start to completion, but the original control room was built in 1994” says the former Magazine and Visage keyboarder, who now splits his time between the studio, his two bands, The Legendary Nighthawks and Dave Formula and the Finks, and penning his own pending solo album.
In between his musical commitments, Dave set about building the studio, literally carrying every piece of it 60 feet to it’s location at the back of a plot not accessible to vehicles. “I employed a builder, and I was his labourer” he summarises, and casually throws in a few comments about what that involved. “Every one of the thousands of concrete block had to be carried to the site” says this slightly built man, visually, the most unlikely participant in the building trade. Even before that, five tons of rubble and soil had to be dug out and removed, (again by hand), to create the sunken main studio and drum booth.
The raised control room is Dave’s original studio, and it really illustrates the size of the new main sections, and, the amount of manual labour required to create it. Dave reflects: “Kevin Carthy, is much more than an employed builder. He is quite remarkable, an artist of innovation and ‘can do’. It would have been impossible to realise the place to such a high standard without his help and massive input”.
Everything that has gone into the creation of The Sweet Factory has been thought through – Dave building on the experience of his previous studios, and adding to those. Dave commented Aesthetically too, everything “fits” from the yellow entrance door, to the strategically placed sound panels, stylishly painted by Louth artist, Jayne Cooper.
When it was finally finished, the first band brought in to record, were Juggenaught from Birmingham. The fact that this was Dave’s son’s band actually added to the pressure to get everything right. Dave said it would probably have been easier to work with strangers, but the end result, “Surreal Flirtations” set an immediate benchmark for him as Producer at The Sweet Factory. Others followed, including Spilsby band, Last Chance and Northern Captives from Lincoln.
Dave’s long time friend, audio engineer/producer and percussionist, Keith Angel, is very involved with The Sweet Factory. Dave says: “I’ve also realised that it’s essential to get a group of young, up and coming, engineers and producers using the place. Over decades the best studios have sounded great and had a team that grows with the place to create a unique place to make great records”.
Dave Formula has created an amazing space, well worth a visit by George Clarke, and I’ll simply quote the “Story” from The Sweet Factory’s Facebook page to describe it’s beauty:
“Former Strongroom Studios founder Dave Formula has designed and built The Sweet Factory with the intention of creating a beautiful and flexible recording space for the most discerning musicians, engineers and producers.
Located in leafy Lincolnshire, the five acoustically designed and generously proportioned spaces are filled with natural light together with vintage and contemporary microphones, equipment and instruments. It’s truly a studio that needs to be experienced to be fully appreciated.”
Dave Formula: 079 7770 9905
Keith Angel: 077 0960 5013
Photos by Graeme Oxby