High profile musicians may be lured to the Illawarra with the popular Top End Sound Studios relocating from Marrickville to Unanderra.
Operated by Sven Smok for nearly a decade, the previous space could accommodate 15 bands (or more) per day with the likes of Cold Chisel, Richie Sambora, NOFX, Birds of Tokyo, SAFIA, Rufus and members of Guns’n’Roses.
“You asked me if I got star struck, no,” he said. “It was like an out of body experience that mostly left me laughing and saying ‘Okay that happened’.”
Mr Smok said he’d finally built the business to where he wanted it, then the space became acquired by Transport NSW for Sydney’s light rail project.
“I’m hoping to have [the Unanderra studios built] by September … if everything goes my way,” he said.
“I don’t think that’s too optimistic.”
A development application for a dual warehouse on Waynote Place is currently before Wollongong City Council until February 24.
The fit-out would include seven rehearsal studios, a second large production/recording room and a third smaller room which could also be used for recording.
Mr Smok said his rates to rent the studio would go down due to cheaper outgoings at the new location (roughly between $20-$20 per hour), so hoped to entice his regular clientele to the new space.
“I don’t know how many of those bands I’ll attract down there, but I could because there’s a huge shortage of large production spaces in Sydney,” he said.
“I’ll run it up the flagpole and see what happens.”
Mr Smok was a musician himself and played regularly in bands whilst working for a courier company.
His music “never got anywhere” but he really liked playing in a recording studio so setup Top End to accommodate his hobby. The business quickly took off and his hobby soon became his full-time job.
“I didn't advertise the studio at all, it was all word of mouth,” Mr Smok said.
“[It was] a case of ‘build it and they will come’ and they did.”
The business owner likened his Marickville venture to a cross between the movies Almost Famous and Spinal Tap – like the time actors Brian Brown and Sam Neill turned up to rehearse for Jenny Morris’ birthday party.
Other memorable moments include watching a Rolling Stones tribute band walk past Darryl Jones and not recognize the touring bassist for the original band; Iron Maiden’s Paul Di Anno dropping his phone in Mr Smok's toilet and eating lunch to the sounds of iconic Australian and international acts.