Quantcast
“Sound City was the birthplace of legend. It was witness to history. It was home to a special few, intent on preserving an ideal."
——Dave Grohl
SOUND CITY: DAVE GROHL MAKES A MOVIE ABOUT HIS FAVORITE STUDIO
In a Labor of Love, Foos Auteur Films a Tribute to the Funky Joint Where Nirvana Cut Nevermind
Dave Grohl is behind the upcoming feature-length documentary Sound City, about the famous, recently shuttered recording studio of the same name located on the outskirts of civilization in the north Valley. The shabby but magical facility is where Nirvana recorded Nevermind with Butch Vig in 1991.

Grohl directed and produced the film, and Roswell Films, a branch of his Roswell imprint, which releases the Foo Fighters' albums through RCA, will distribute it. The doc is being co-produced with Jim Rota, John Ramsay and Therapy studios; Paul Crowder will edit and Mark Monroe (The Cove, The Tillman Story) will write the script.

"Sound City is a film about America's greatest unsung recording studio," Grohl told Variety. "Deep in California's sun-burnt San Fernando Valley, tucked away behind the train tracks and dilapidated warehouses, it was the birthplace of legend. It was witness to history. It was home to a special few, intent on preserving an ideal."

The nondescript facility, located deep inside an industrial park in a section of Van Nuys whose prime attractions are the Budweiser brewery and Dr. Hogly Wogly’s BBQ, became a recording studio in 1969, when Vox Instruments sold the five-year-old building to a couple of neophytes. After a year in which the clients included Neil Young and Charles Manson, the desperate owners sold Sound City to a West Virginia holding company that included ex-Marine Tom Skeeter. “They were looking to put some Hollywood glitz into the stock,” he told our own Bud Scoppa in 2009, peering out at the cinderblock structure that’s been his baby ever since.

“It didn’t take long to realize that it wasn’t going to happen unless it was upgraded to state-of-the-art,” Skeeter continued. “So we took out a loan and bought a Neve console, which was one of the first Neves to go in an L.A. studio. Keith Olsen, who was our staff engineer, picked it and helped customize it. That turned out to be the smartest thing we ever did, because that same original console is still settin’ there in Studio A. Rupert Neve said it was probably the only console of that vintage that’s actually been in the same spot since it was manufactured.”

Sound City survived for the first five years by drumming up an odd assortment of clients including the Ice Capades and daredevil Evel Knievel. Things took a dramatic turn when Fleetwood Mac drummer Mick Fleetwood came to Sound City to check out the facility, and Olsen played him some tracks from an album he’d produced there by the unknown duo of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. Fleetwood, who was also looking to replace recently departed singer/guitarist Bob Welch, was so taken with what he’d heard that he decided to ask both of them to join Fleetwood Mac. The resulting self-titled album, also recorded at Sound City, transformed the journeyman band into superstars, and lured a parade of name artists and A-list producers to the studio. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers become one of the studio’s best clients beginning with their breakthrough album, 1978’s Damn the Torpedoes.
 
“Nobody ‘designed’ that room,” producer/engineer Jim Scott said of Studio A, where such landmark albums as Fleetwood Mac, Damn the Torpedoes, Nevermind and Rage Against the Machine were tracked. “You walk in and bump your head on the speaker—nobody designed that. It’s very homemade, but very rock & roll, and there’s a lot of soul here.”

Improbably, the studio’s shabby/chic look has actually influenced the décor of other L.A. facilities. Faced with patched holes in the ceiling and walls that couldn’t be repaired lest the magic disappear, longtime studio manager Shivaun O’Brien put up tapestries and brightened up the rooms with Christmas lights. Then there was the aroma. “When he was doing Wildflowers, Tom Petty said, ‘Sound City smells like 40 years of sweat, pot smoke and cigarette smoke,’” O’Brien remembers. “So we started burning Nag Champa incense at Rick Rubin’s suggestion to get rid of the smell.”

Sound City has proved to be an excellent training ground for engineers and producers. Among the notable studio artisans who started out as runners or assistants are Greg Fidelman, Joe Barresi, Nick Raskulinitz, Mike Terry and Billy Bowers
 

SOME LIKE IT HITS LIST
Where's Vanilla Ice when we need him? (8/14a)
SONY MUSIC LAUNCHES VOTING INITIATIVE
Nothing's more important right now. (8/14a)
SCARYPOOLPARTY:
AS REAL AS IT GETS
A writer looks at Alejandro Aranda and sees his own reflection. (8/14a)
DRAKE TAPS LIL DURK FOR NEW SINGLE
The offensive begins... (8/14a)
AIRHEAD: THE BIBLE
HOUSE RULES
How do you parody what is already a parody of itself? (8/14a)
BTS BRINGS IT
They're so dreamy.
VOTE BY MAIL
It's a conspiracy, because everyone does it.
IS IT CHRISTMAS?
No, but we're thinking about cookies.
WOKE MUSIC
Protest songs that sound like now.
 Email

 First Name

 Last Name

 Company

 Country
CAPTCHA code
Captcha: (type the characters above)