Sound City sets stage for Grohl-led HBO series 

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Some people love former Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighter frontman Dave Grohl. Other’s don’t. This movie isn’t about his talent or ability — it’s about a rock ‘n’ roll love affair.

Directed by Grohl, Sound City is a documentary about possibly one of the most beloved and important recording studios in music history.

Yeah, its namesake was a dump. Musicians joke about pissing in its corners during recording sessions. The place was filthy. But it also held a rare, custom-built Neve 8078 analogue mixing console and possibly the most obsessed-over “sweet spots” for rumbling drum acoustics: Both sonically launched many of the most enduring names in the business.

The Buckingham Nicks self-titled debut was recorded in these walls with the help of studio managers Joe Gottfried and Tom Skeeter. Later, Nicks and Buckingham’s band Fleetwood Mac recorded Rumors here, too.

The names are endless, and they all revel in the shabby, pure, unfettered hits (and some misses) that nurtured the all-analogue shop through decades of financial success — and hardship.

Neil Young, Tom Petty, Ratt, Pat Benatar, Rick Springfield, Santana, Cheap Trick, Grateful Dead, and even Tulsa Sound icon Leon Russell recorded there. Then, Nirvana’s 1991 breakthrough, Nevermind, blew the doors off for a new generation, including Rage Against the Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tool, Metallica, Mastodon, Queens of the Stone Age, Weezer, Nine Inch Nails and others.

The talent and the love and the inspiration are astonishing. After decades of ups and downs, the studio is forced to close after years of fighting an onslaught of Auto-Tune, Pro Tools and at-home DIY innovation.

Here, Grohl performs the ultimate selfish — and ultimately generous — act by buying the Neve 8078 from Skeeter and installing it in his own home studio.

From here, the musicians — and their legacies — are reaffirmed, reborn with in-home studio guests including Nicks to Springfield to Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, Lars Ulrich of Metallica, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails and even a Nirvana reunion with special guest — no, I would have never guessed it — Paul McCartney. It’s mind-blowing. If you don’t cry, you have no soul.

Grohl now also host sa spin-off documentary series, Sonic Highways, which launched mid-October on Home Box Office. He visits studios and musicians from Chicago, Washington D.C., Nashville, New York and Seattle. Guests will include Ian MacKay of Fugazi, members of KISS, Joe Walsh and Nancy Wilson of Heart.


Sound City

2013

Streaming, DVD, Blu-Ray


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