Grohl doc “Sound City” on technology, hit music

Neal Augenstein,

WASHINGTON — The building wasn’t pretty, but the music that sprang from it was.

Well, not always pretty. Sometimes gritty, provocative and enduring.

Sound City Studios, in Los Angeles, closed its doors in 2011. The hit records recorded there between 1969 and the day it closed — more than 100 gold and platinum albums — were a combination of technology, great writing and performances, and collaboration.

In his first film, “Sound City,” Dave Grohl, frontman for Foo Fighters and drummer for Nirvana, along with the dozens of music stars who recorded hits there, reminisce about the unassuming — some would say ramshackle and filthy — studio, and it’s analog equipment.

“If it weren’t for that board, I don’t know what Nirvana’s ‘Never Mind’ would have sounded like, and I might not be here today,” Grohl told ABC News in an interview promoting the documentary which is showing at the West End Cinema, and can be streamed online.

Musicians ranging from Tom Petty, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, Mick Fleetwood, and Rick Springfield share recollections of the ambience, and especially the Neve recording console — cutting edge when introduced, but eventually considered antique when digital recording became popular.

Grohl felt strongly enough about the recording board he purchased it when the studio closed.

Rather than merely a focus on the studio itself, Grohl and others discuss the creative interplay of musicians who gathered inside it.

“When you hit ‘record’ the idea isn’t just to do what you’ve done a thousand times,” says Grohl, paraphrasing Neil Young

“It’s to get that magic that happens the first time…it comes out of you, and you get that on tape.”

Follow @WTOP on Twitter.

Advertiser Content