Station-to-Station Tour to Feature Mobile Recording Studio

A recording studio inside a speeding train offers it own kind of rock and roll sound

Rocking back and forth from foot to foot, Justin Stanley stood in the middle of the stationary Station-to-Station recording car in Chicago, Illinois. He was demonstrating how the musicians looked as the train was rolling along the countryside. Stanley is a musician himself, but for this event he is the producer and engineer that oversees the impromptu musical sessions. “The first two days, we all felt as if we’d just gotten off a boat,” he explained. “But I think we’re all used to it now.”

Years ago while playing with Jeff Beck, Stanley met Doug Aitken, mastermind behind the Station-to-Station tour. Stanley was appointed to construct a portable recording studio aboard the Station-to-Station train. The train is carrying musicians and other artists to selected stops around the country as part of a mobile artistic event. Moog, a renowned instrument company, has partially sponsored the studio with a theremin, pedals and several synthesizers. The still-
growing recording car also has a full drum kit, multiple guitars as well as up-to-the-second playback and recording equipment. Some classical equipment also takes up space in the car such as an old Casio keyboard. “Everyone loves it,” Stanley says. “You get all these crazy bits of gear and everyone’s like, ‘Let’s get out the Casio.'”

Stanley began setting up the mobile studio as the train sat parked in a rail yard in Chicago. Once the train pulls out for Minneapolis, recording sessions should start. Recording music in an unconventional space is not new to Stanley. He recorded singer-songwriter Ryan Bingham in Malibu at his home and drums for soul singer Jamie Lidell at his home studio. When adapting to new environments Stanley says, “It’s a really Brian Eno thought process. The space is only a benefit, because it gives you this other sound.” He has a microphone attached to the window on the Station-to-Station recording car. Stanley says it is to pick up the rumble of the train and the sound outside. “I don’t mind the bleed. That’s the whole point,” he offered.


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