Once upon a time, Janet Jackson, The Replacements, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, and (of course) Prince created iconic albums right here in the Twin Cities. But not even an hour southeast of the metro, another recording empire was rising out of the trees. Pachyderm Studios, a Cannon Falls recording studio meets cabin in the woods, is where Nirvana recorded In Utero, where PJ Harvey recorded Rid of Me, and where countless other local and national bands (Soul Asylum among them) created some of their best work. Chicago-based super-producer Steve Albini had a lot to do with that. Drawn in by the picturesque setting, the luxe guesthouse where artists could stay during the recording process, and the meticulously designed recording studio, Albini brought the most notable groups to Cannon Falls. But during the Great Recession of 2008, the once-storied studio fell into disrepair and foreclosure. That is, until local music recording engineer John Kuker brought it back from the brink before his own death, and bands began filling the woods with music and folklore once again.
Approximate number of vintage microphones held in Pachyderm’s legendary mic locker, one of the largest collections of vintage mics in the country. They all work, and bands often use them in their recordings.
Square feet of the house—complete with a swimming pool, sauna, five bedrooms, and a producer’s suite—where artists typically stay while recording. Lodging is included in the package for artists recording multiday projects (and no, you can’t rent it out on Airbnb).
Year Nirvana recorded In Utero
Total acres of Pachyderm property
Number of miles Pachyderm sits from the Twin Cities
Approximate amount John Kuker purchased the property for in 2011. “It had been vacant for, like, a year, and the pipes were all busted, the roof was leaking, windows were broken,” says Nick Tveitbakk, the studio’s current manager. “So, the price was insanely low. He had a great vision on what to do with the space.”
The year Jim Nickel, Mark Walk, and Eric S. Anderson first opened Pachyderm. After purchasing the land and its midcentury home, they hired acoustics celebrity Bret Theney of Westlake Audio to design the recording studio’s live room.