The creative process is a fickle little mistress, trust me. Some people like Axl Rose can dash off memorable lyrics on the back of a pizza box whenever the mood strikes. Then there are people like Bjork who think only being naked in a bat-infested cave will get them the proper vocal sound. To each his/her own.
Sometimes, though, musicians just have to pick places to lay down tracks that no sane human would ever want to be anywhere near, let alone trying to work in. Places full of murder, magic, and in one case spectral masturbation. No, I'm not making that last one up.
With Halloween fast approaching I thought a guide to the finest haunted recording locations would be in order. For some of you this will encourage travel to perform amongst the ectoplasm. For others more sensible, like me, it'll tell you where to stay the hell away from when your gothic rap album is ready to hit tape.
5. You Can Record at American Horror Story's Murder House
American Horror Story turned the Rosenheim Mansion into a character itself in the first season, and it certainly isn't alone in that. Dozens of horror TV shows have shot there, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, the Twilight Zone, Dexter, Angel, and Ghost Whisperer. Chances are, if you've been scared by a television show in the last several decades, it was probably because of this one-of-a-kind house.
At some point in the 1930s, the Sisters of Social Service took over the house from actor Edward Everett Horton, and build a stately chapel on the property. The attic scenes in American Horror Story were actually set in this chapel.
Last decade, this space became a state-of-the-art recording space with room for up to 250 people and internet broadcast capabilities under the control of Planet Earth Records. I'd tell you more about them, but I can't because they have literally the worst music website on the entire internet.
The house isn't really haunted as far as anyone can tell. It's just creepy, though Evan Peters (Tate Langdon) remarked that he found being there very uncomfortable and would never want to live in the mansion. After seeing so many bad things happen there in TV shows you can't blame him. It's got to be unsettling to be there, even if the ghosts are just in your head.
4. Rick Rubin's Haunted Mansion Scares Everyone
Rick Rubin's the Mansion has seen a parade of the brightest and the best names in modern rock come through its doors to record. The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Marilyn Manson, Linkin Park, and The Mars Volta are just a few of the bands that set up shop to put together an album, and most of them have walked away with some tale of eerie happenings.
Supposedly, the house is mainly haunted by the ghost of woman pushed to death by the son of the original house's owner in 1918 (The current Mansion was built after a fire destroyed the first house in '50). Joey Jordison of Slipknot says he was doing laundry in the basement when he felt a ghostly form pass through him, and wouldn't return to the basement afterwards.
His bedroom door would mysteriously open at exactly 9:30 a.m. every morning while they were recording Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses). Mars Volta's Cedric Bixler-Zavala reported similar occurrences with door that wouldn't stay closed in the Mansion's bell tower, and always avoided the area.
The only person apparently not frightened is John Frusciante, who thought the ghosts were nice and would masturbate in front of them.
3. Jimmy Page Films at Aleister Crowley's House
Pretty much every modern pagan, new age, and satanic belief comes from one man, Aleister Crowley. In addition to founding a highly influential occult order himself, he is the direct inspiration of both Gerald Gardner's Book of Shadows, giving rise to Wicca, and much of Anton LaVey's Satanic Bible. Pansexual, drug-loving, fascinated by the shadowy corners of the world, he was also understandably a big deal to many of the world's most famous rockers including Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page.
Page, though not a member of Crowley's Ordo Templi Orientis, was just fascinated with the man and eventually bought one of his mansions, the Boleskine House, on the shores of Loch Ness. When it came time to film-fantasy sequences for the concert film the Song Remains the Same, Page shot his scenes in the mountains directly behind the house. It's also likely that the intro to "In the Evening," originally demoed by Page as "Lucifer Rising," was recorded there.
A Scottish friend of the Gothic Council, Raven Madd, told me that she had visited the house, and that it had a pleasant energy. Nonetheless, Page believed the residence to be haunted by a ghostly decapitated head that you could hear rolling down the stairs at night.
Local legend says the house has a hidden passage that leads to a nearby cemetery.
2. Live at Castle Bathory
One of history's greatest monsters was Elizabeth Bathory, who might have eventually topped Adolf Hitler in pure evil if she had been on the other side of the Industrial Revolution. In the 17th century, the aging Hungarian Countess believed that bathing in the blood of young girls would restore her youth, and may have had as many as 600 of them kidnapped, slaughtered and drained to provide her with her rejuvenating baths. So the next time your wife wants to spend $30 at the LUSH counter, remember that it could always be worse.
According to our highly trained team of metal historians, Bathory is directly responsible for almost 13 percent of all the metal tunes in existence. Dani Filth told us that he would love to play a live show in the still standing castle where she lived and killed, though he admitted that the structure is probably not up for such a gig.
Jam band Stefanik, Perny & Kollar did the next best thing, though, when they invited Kofi to join them in the village of Višňové to record a live album called Channeling Of Lady Elizabeth Bathory. Čachtice Castle sits directly above it, and it's likely that more than one victim was kidnapped from there by Bathory for her purposes.
1. Trent Reznor Opens a Studio on the Site of the Manson Murders
In 1969 a psychopathic cult leader named Charlie Manson was full of frustrated dreams of rock and roll fame and an endless desire to start a race-war apocalypse that would eventually make him king of the Earth. He decided to accomplish this by sending Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkle, and Charles "Tex" Watson to the home of Roman Polanski in order to murder his pregnant wife, actress Sharon Tate, three of their friends, and an unfortunate young man who had been visiting the caretaker. Oh, and the template for all this insanity was the Beatles' "White Album." There's so much crazy in this paragraph that just reading it is the equivalent to huffing spray paint.
Trent Reznor moved into the house in the early '90s, building a music studio there that he called Pig (Krenwinkle had written "pig" on the front door of the house in Tate's blood). There he recorded both The Downward Spiral and Marilyn Manson's Portrait of an American Family. Eventually, the history of the house got to Reznor, especially after an encounter with Tate's sister, when she asked if he was exploiting Tate's death.
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Reznor moved out in 1993, and the house was demolished the next year. He did keep a souvenir, though, the front door of the house which he installed in Nothing Studios. Whether this is the same door that was marked in blood is debated.
He also filmed the above music video.