Sound city recording studio may be gone, but Dave Grohl is determined to make sure that it will not be forgotten. Sound City was a recording studio outside Los Angeles, what it lacked in décor and cleanliness it made up for in personality. The amount of hit albums recorded there over the years is simply astonishing and it’s no wonder that Grohl decided to tell its story. Sound city is Grohls first foray into filmmaking, but it really doesn’t show. It gives us an in depth look into the history of the studio, the fabled Neve console, and also a glimpse into Grohls own past. I found the history of the studio very interesting and the fact that he got so many high profile stars to talk about their experiences there speaks volumes. Neil young, Tom Petty, Mick Fleetwood, Josh Homme, it’s a whos who of legendary musicians, the list goes on and on.
On paper the idea of sitting down to watch musician’s talk about a now defunct studio sounds a tad boring. But I genuinely enjoyed every minute of it, so much history was made in those two rooms, albums that changed the face of music were recorded there on a regular basis. It was interesting to see how new technology affected the studios popularity. It grew to enormous heights in the 70s thanks to Fleetwood Mac, but the 80s were extremely though thanks to the introduction of equipment such as the drum machine. Nirvana brought about a renaissance in the 90s thanks to Nevermind and that lasted up until the end of the decade where once again technology brought the studio down with the creation of pro tools and other audio software. Some interesting points were made about how everyone can now have their own studio in their bedroom thanks to this software, and bands of the future can explode into the media without ever having set foot in a studio. The message throughout the film seems to be that it’s not only the equipment that makes it, it’s the people and the atmosphere that creates the magic. Mick Fleetwood words it beautifully when he says “Yes, you can do this all on your own, But you’ll be a much happier human being to do it with other human beings. And I can guarantee you that.”
A decent portion of the film covers how the Neve console made this studio what it was, how its sound was superior to any other, and it becomes obvious why when we get to the later stages of the film. When the studio finally admitted defeat and decided to close its doors Grohl bought the machine and installed in his own home studio. We then get to witness possibly the greatest movie soundtrack ever being recorded. It gives an insider’s view into the real process of song making, and shows that it is the people and not just the place or the equipment that makes the music so special. The collaboration between Grohl, Josh Homme and Trent Reznor was particularly interesting, but nothing can beat a Paul McCartney fronted Nirvana. Even Grohl himself couldn’t quite believe that it was actually happening, which is possibly why he chose that to help wrap up the movie, you can’t possibly get any better than that. I loved this movie from start to finish, and I think it will appeal to anyone who has even the slightest interest in music. Even if you don’t it invites you in to share in the rise and fall, the highs and the lows, of one of the greatest pieces of history in music.