The control room at Thunder Sound in Franklin, Kentucky. Photo courtesy Thunder Sound
When Nashville songwriter Rayland Baxter first walked in Thunder Sound studios, he didn’t know it would be his home for the next two months. Housed in an old rubber band factory in Franklin, Kentucky, 40 minutes north of Music Row in Nashville, Baxter was first attracted to the studio for its location. “It’s in the middle of a couple cornfields,” Baxter says. “It’s quiet at night.”
By day three, Baxter was in love. “I found my harmony there,” he says.
Founded in July 2016 by Kentucky songwriter Billy Swayze, Thunder Sound is rapidly becoming one of Kentucky’s premiere destination studios. It has even attracted the attention of former Stax co-owner and recording legend Al Bell, who traveled from Memphis to visit the budding operation. “He said he got the same vibe as the first time he walked in Stax,” Swayze says. “A comfortable, homey vibe.”
No doubt that comfort played a big part in Baxter and other songwriters’ interest in the studio. “It’s like a resort, but with lots of great gear,” Baxter says with a chuckle. “One of the old office buildings they turned into a little motel. You can stay there and stay focused on making a record or writing songs. Or walking around in the corn fields listening to the coyotes.”
Maintaining a constant workflow is one of Thunder Sound’s biggest strengths, Baxter says. “After I was done writing all the songs I cut 10 demos up there in the same room I wrote them in.”