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Friday, October 26, 2007

Ghost in the Machine

posted by on October 26 at 11:29 AM


There’s a ghost that haunts Robert Lang Studio, and it hates heavy metal.

The neighborhood of Richmond Beach, where the studio is located, is a supernatural hotspot, crawling with the spirits of drowned mariners and dead children and George the Janitor (that’s another story).

Robert Lang—a respected studio engineer who’s hosted myriad historic sessions over his 30-year career, including Nirvana’s last and the Foo Fighters’ first—has a spook story all his own. It involves buried treasure, a dead man’s ghost, the Afghan Whigs, and a piece of Italian marble depicting the image of Jesus.


The story is this week’s music lead. The online version comes with large-scale versions of Lang’s photos of the ghost (seen above; check out the top right corner) and the Jesus marble.

For extra chills, check out Trent Moorman’s eight-minute video documentary on our visit to the studio. We spoke with Lang and his assistant as they told us the full story of the ghost and gave us a tour of the studio. Some excerpts:

“I saw this vision or this ghostly figure—I could see right through it—and I squealed like a little bitch.”

“This was 1996, 1997. Greg Dulli says, ‘I just got a call from my medium and I’m a little bit concerned.’”

“And Devon finds a dead bat under the piano.”

“The spirit was pointing northward, and that’s exactly where I found the money.”

“Anyone who comes here who has a negative vibe, this place will shit on ‘em.”

RSS icon Comments


The lore is good, but doesn't that "ghost" look a lot more like the camera's flash refelcting of the control rooom window?

Posted by About a Ghost | October 26, 2007 11:43 AM

Man, I grew up in the same class as Bob's son, I remember when he was putting that studio together. Haunted? Never heard that, but maybe he just didn't want to spook us kids

Posted by Jaye | October 26, 2007 12:37 PM

The ghost has better taste than any of the losers inhabiting the studio in life. Greg Dulli? The world's most appropriately-named rock star.

Posted by Fnarf | October 26, 2007 12:44 PM

I think the ghost left some of that money for me. This is bullshit. At least $300 of that was for me. I'm gonna go out there and tell Lang. He'll give me my $300, right?

Posted by Alf | October 26, 2007 1:02 PM

i loved this story, there have been tales about bob lang's ghost for decades now and it was fun to see it in print. too bad you couldn't get grohl on the phone, i seem to remember him having some chilling times there.

and, yo, fnarf @3: those "losers" you refer to include a hell of a lot of very talented musicians spanning the years, from cobain to gibbard and many in between.

don't be such a grump. and don't talk shit about my homeboy. besides, it's pronounced "duly," as in "duly noted that fnarf has questionable taste in music."

Posted by kerri harrop | October 26, 2007 1:30 PM

The ghost of Dubby is going to find Fnarf and fuck him up. And make him listen to hours of Dulli's music.

Albums recorded at Lang's = millions of copies sold. Yeah, losers huh.

Fnarf, let's hear your smartass remark.

You better beware, motherfucker.

Posted by Alf | October 26, 2007 1:39 PM

I see the ghost. I believe in the ghost. Nice sound efx! Lang is cooky, but you gotta love him.

Posted by El Mont | October 26, 2007 3:54 PM

I've seen the Afghan Whigs. They sucked ass. So did grunge. Seattle rock in the 90s was uniformly stinky bilgewater.

Ever notice how hair metal, which grunge knocked off the charts overnight, is actually fun to watch when it comes on VH-1 or whatever? Stupid, yes, and ridiculous, but funny and fun to watch.

Grunge, on the other hand, just looks worse and worse in retrospect. Seriously, Cobain wrote a couple of decent tunes, but the rest of them all put together did nothing any person with taste would ever want to see or hear again. Tuneless thumping and plodding, groaning and thrashing, and ugly as hell. A dog shitting peach pits is more entertaining, and more tuneful.

The output of that studio isn't the worst of it, but it's bad enough.

Posted by Fnarf | October 26, 2007 6:17 PM

Fnarf is right about hair metal being fun to watch. But it's fun cause it's so bad, you're like, 'I can't believe' they actually did that.' Grunge is bad to watch in retrospect in a different way.

Fnarf is the music authority in this town. He's made and sold millions and millions of records. NOT.

Don't you know who he thinks he is?

Posted by Bobber | October 26, 2007 8:47 PM

I know what I like, and I can defend it better than you can, Bobber.

Posted by Fnarf | October 26, 2007 9:53 PM

@8: "A dog shitting peach pits is more entertaining, and more tuneful."

Fnarf, you've missed your calling. I've never seen a more natural rock critic.

Posted by J.R. | October 28, 2007 9:32 PM

And why is it that photos of ghosts are always so damn unimpressive. I'm with #1--it sure looks like a reflection on the control room window.

Posted by J.R. | October 28, 2007 9:35 PM

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