‘I picked up this incredible love for sounds and music’

MAN AT WORK Richard Tamblyn who owns the Old Blacksmith's Studio in Hilsea.     Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (112393-6)
MAN AT WORK Richard Tamblyn who owns the Old Blacksmith's Studio in Hilsea. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (112393-6)

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A decade ago, Richard Tamblyn was in a band touring Europe and America alongside rockers Muse.

He was the guitarist in post-grunge rockers Thirst and the band won praise from Kerrang magazine for best single and album of the week.

Some would call it every young musician’s dream. But not Richard.

He ended up ditching the glitz and glamour of rock and roll to pursue a passion working behind the scenes instead.

The 32-year-old is celebrating 10 years at the helm of the Old Blacksmiths Recording Studios, in Hilsea.

This state-of-the-art recording and rehearsal facility plays host to around 50 bands a week and Richard leads a team of seven technicians.

Posters of The Who, Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain line the walls to inspire frontmen of the future. And the studio has three practice rooms plus a hi-tech space to mix, record and edit songs.

‘It’s really satisfying seeing artists come through,’ says Richard. ‘Seeing them go off and tour and do great things makes it all worthwhile.

‘The bands and the staff are what makes Old Blacksmiths the place it is. I care about all of them and I hope that comes across.

‘We don’t let rubbish material go out the door, the focus is on quality and making sure every band and artist gets the best sound possible whilst they’re here.

‘When bands come to rehearse we don’t just leave them to get on with it. We help them set up and make sure they know how to get a good sound.’

The former Highbury College student worked at IBM for five years before forming melodic post-grunge group, Thirst, in 1996.

They found success across Europe and America after releasing their only album, From Mouth to Skin, just prior to Richard’s departure in 2001.

But despite winning accolades and touring with Muse, a life of fame and glory wasn’t enough for Richard.

‘I started to see myself going one way and the band going another,’ he explains. ‘There was some creative and artistic difference starting to show on the road and it was at the tail end of our last tour that I picked up this incredible love for recording sounds and music. So I decided to leave the band and set up my own recording studio to follow what I wanted to do.’

Richard set up his first recording base in a disused cotton mill behind St Mary’s Church, in Fratton, and stayed there until 2005.

Today he’s based in Airport Service Road and the studio is now a fully-operational arm of the community.

For the last few years they’ve sponsored the Wedgewood Rooms talent competition, which pits the city’s brightest musicians against each other. They rock out for a chance to win three days recording time at the studio.

‘We try to do as much as we can for the local music scene. Portsmouth is so quirky and unusual, you never know what you’re going to see and hear each day.

‘When a band turns up wanting their chance to get noticed we give them a platform to make sure their name is heard.

‘The space we have now is so much better for us. The building in Fratton was falling down and in the end it was sold under our feet and redeveloped into flats.’

To mark its 10th anniversary, the studio is hosting a singing school to give young people between the age of seven and 18 the chance to sing.

‘It’s geared towards young people who have seen Glee, The X Factor and shows like that,’ says Richard. ‘We build up their confidence and encourage them to have fun singing pop songs to increase their interest in the music industry.’

He adds: ‘It’s amazing how the industry is so vast now. We did a birthday party experience lately and a lot of the kids were telling me their favourite youtube artists – none of whom were in the mainstream charts. I hadn’t heard of any of them. But internet artists are the future now.’

So what does Richard think of the current music scene?

‘There’s a lot of people at the moment doing their own thing, which is cool,’ he says.

‘I’m not too sure about Liam Gallagher’s new band Beady Eye though. The music seems to drone on and it’s quite repetitive.

‘I really like Oasis, especially their first three albums. Be Here Now is extremely underrated and has some great tracks.’