They’ve been a force of the indie folk world for well over a decade now, but as Lord Huron celebrate the recent release their fourth album, Long Lost, it’s time to take a look into the mysterious world of the group’s Whispering Pine Studios.
From its very early origins, music has been as mysterious as it alluring for as long as humans can remember. Why, from those familiar melodies that evoke nostalgic memories of places we’ve never even been, to the more modern questions of just what the heck ‘Peanut Duck’ is, music and mystery have gone hand in hand.
However, it goes without saying that most folks wouldn’t have assumed the humble Lord Huron to be caught up in such a noodle-scratcher. But then again, most folks too wouldn’t have thought they’d be asking questions about just Tubbs Tarbell is, and whatever happened to Whispering Pines, “the greatest record label that never was”.
Check out ‘Meet Me In The Woods’ by Lord Huron:
For years now, Michigan’s Lord Huron have found themselves laying down tracks and heart-rending sounds from the confines of Los Angeles’ Whispering Pines Studios. While we can’t argue with the results, some fans have found themselves wondering about the studio itself, and whether it actually exists.
While this is indeed a salacious mystery (spoiler: it exists), it was in December of last year that the intrigue really began to rise. See, back in December, Lord Huron announced the arrival of a series of livestreamed performances called Live From Whispering Pines. Sure enough, January brought with it the first episode, and new ones have followed since, with the studio itself being reimagined as an old broadcast station in the remote wilderness, haunted by the ghosts of forgotten musical legends.
That’s where things begin to get a little bit strange though. As the band introduce us to a litany of stunning tracks, so too do we begin to get more of an idea about Whispering Pines and its associated record label.
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One such name that pops up is that of Tubbs Tarbell, who was made accessible via a hotline in one episode, and even wrote in a statement about his experience with Lord Huron and the sort of ethereal connection that the group had with the famed studio.
“Now, I’ve loved all their hits – ‘The Night We Met’, ‘Time To Run’, ‘When The Night Is Over’ – but this new stuff they started in on just sounded…well, it just sounded like somethin’ eerily familiar, as it were,” Tarbell recalled.
“Like somethin’ from a past life I’d heard before, but brand new, all at once. Like a note plucked long ago that had moseyed through time to finally belly up to my bar once and for all. It was a conundrum.”
Word on the street is there are Whispering Pines classics waiting to be unearthed in record bins across the country. Help us mine these long-lost nuggets before time’s blur erases them forever. Check out our USED LP section!! Very Limited….and Very Free! @lordhuron #lordhuron pic.twitter.com/21unluikOL
— The Sound Garden (@TheSoundGarden) May 20, 2021
From there, things only began to get a little bit more confusing, with the Whispering Pines back catalogue soon finding its way online, ranging from cuts from the great Hefty Lefty, the mighty Mickey Driskill, and even the long lost GunThunder – most of which had been produced and mixed by Tarbell himself.
Add to this the discovery of memorabilia from the Whispering Pines archives (including Hefty Lefty’s drumsticks and GunThunder’s Music From The Motion Picture album), and then a few more intriguing discoveries from fans, and it seems as though Lord Huron had helped to uncover a wealth of musical knowledge that had been lost to time.
Of course, it’s easy to think of Whispering Pines and its associated artists and history as being a long-forgotten piece of musical history whose very discovery is as intriguing to us as ancient tombs are to archaeologists, but the truth is, we can thank Lord Huron for helping to blur the edges of fact and fiction.
Word on the street is there are Whispering Pines classics waiting to be unearthed in record bins across the country. Help us mine these long-lost nuggets before time’s blur erases them forever… pic.twitter.com/3M8JZzrwOL
— Seasick Records (@seasickbham) May 20, 2021
Yes, in anticipation of their latest album, Lord Huron decided to shine a light on the Long Lost history of Whispering Pines, creating a mythical world to complement the luscious facts attached to the famed studio of the same name. Looking back to bygone eras and genres, the group took inspiration from all the events and characters that may have graced the studios’ hallowed halls to create an alternate history that proved far more enticing than it should’ve been.
“We’ve often tried to uncover the past of our studio, without much success,” the group explained in a statement. “Instead we’ve had to imagine what’s gone on there, who’s passed through. That’s where this idea started.”
While there might not be a real Tubbs Tarbell, and while the music of GunThunder, Mickey Driskill, or even Hefty Lefty might not be a relic of decades gone by, it does serve as a launching point to wonder about the real history of the real Whispering Pines Studio, and to think about the sort of ghosts of musical past that played a part in the creation of Lord Huron’s latest (and potentially greatest) record.
However, questions do remain, including whether or not this will be the last we’ll hear of Whispering Pines. While only time will tell, let us conclude with a quote from Tubbs himself by noting; “As ever, friends, may you live until you die”.