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Kuker’s Masterpiece on Full Display at Pachyderm Recording Studio

The Official Re-Opening of Pachyderm Recording Studio

October 15, 2016

Review and Photo's by: Jonathan Flemming

Historic Pachyderm Recording Studio re-opened its doors this weekend in Cannon Falls, MN.  Pachyderm Recording Studio is the passion project of the late John Kuker. Kuker, a recording legend, owned and operated the Seedy Underbelly Studios in Minneapolis, and later L.A.  Matt Kuker, John’s brother, spoke about what drew John to Pachyderm, “the legacy, the history; it just made sense.”


Located 35 miles south of the Twin Cities, tucked in the middle of an old growth forest, the grounds consist of two main buildings. The 5,000 square foot house was designed by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright and has 4 huge bedrooms, indoor pool, and emanates coolness.  The recording studio boasts five acoustically treated recording spaces, a comfortable control room, and the live room responsible for its signature sound.


Kuker rescued the famous studio and house from foreclosure in 2011 and spent over 3 years renovating and rejuvenating the property.  Kuker sadly passed away in early 2015 as the project neared completion.   His painstaking attention to detail has given new life to the legendary grounds and reinvigorated a musical spirit that can only be found here. “We knew we had to keep his dream alive,” added Matt.

The voices of artists past have been honored by keeping a 70’s feel in the styling of the house and studio, as it originally was when multi-platinum albums were being crafted within its walls.  By scrutinizing original pictures, Kuker hunted down and acquired everything from vintage furniture and period accurate lampshades online.  The color scheme of blue, orange, and brown causes visitors to reminisce about a bygone era in the recording industry. 


“The best thing about Pachyderm is the vibe of the property,” stated house engineer Nick Tveitbakk standing in the control room on repurposed wood flooring pulled directly from John’s first studio in Minneapolis.  “People come out here for that experience.”


Despite the throwback feel, the studio features the perfect mix of state-of-the-art equipment and vintage gear, some of which was part of John’s massive collection.  “That was his wheelhouse, vintage gear,” Matt said.  An original “Orange” guitar amp, extensive guitar pedal collection, and the guitar used on Joe Walsh’s hit  “Life’s Been Good,” are just a few of the highlights in his personal collection.

While wandering over the grounds you are constantly reminded that these peaceful quarters have been utilized by some of the most famous artists of the 90’s and early 2000’s.   The surplus of cozy nooks hosted the musings of Nirvana, Soul Asylum, Live, and more recently, Trampled By Turtles and Norma Jean.


The property itself, was known as Pine Glen, an accurate description of this secluded sanctuary, urges you to craft musical magic away from the distractions of the outside world.  Who wouldn’t feel inspired looking out the studio’s large picture windows onto the bucolic property complete with towering oaks and a trout-filled stream?


From the bronze elephant statues out front, to the kidney shaped pool downstairs (Kuker used 7 different colors to paint the wooden beams above the pool. Each were painted a slightly different color to account for the change of natural light from one end of the room to the other.), this re-imagined space and world-class studio should become a pilgrimage for Midwest musicians and others looking to recreate the experience of a more traditional way of making music.


“(John) would be ecstatic, he would be very happy. ”

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