Sat down to watch “Sound City” the other day. This is the new (newish) Dave Grohl-directed documentary focused on the now defunct Sound City Studios in Los Angeles. I had heard some chirping about this one over the past few months and had to check it out.

With Dave Grohl as the center piece of this film I expected it to be a blow-by-blow account covering the writing and production process for Nirvana’s seminal 1993 opus ‘Nevermind’. I’m a huge fan of these kinds of movies. Metallica’s ‘Some Kind of Monster’ and VH1’s super cool Classic Album series get regular play in my basement. What I actually got was an incredible documented journey down the hallowed halls of classic rock history. (more after the jump)

Sound City Studios opened in 1969 and immediately made an indelible imprint on the music of the day, and the music we continue to jam today. Before it finally closed its doors in 2011, Sound City Studios was responsible for more than 100 certified Gold and Platinum albums from Neil Young to Fleetwood Mac, Cheap Trick, Elton John, Tom Petty and Santana to Rage Against The Machine, Slayer, Tool, Johnny Cash, Nine Inch Nails and ….. Josh Groban?

The secret to Sound City Studio’s success was the drum sound. The sound of drums on tape is due in large part to the room in which the drums are being recorded. When a drum is hit, the sound bounces around the walls in a room and settles. This settling is the sound that you hear on recordings. The set-up of the room, materials used on the walls and floor, the shape of the space and size of the room all work in concert with one another. When these elements are harmonious, there is magic. Sound City Studios was known by musicians and recording engineers alike to have the BEST drum sound compared to any other studio.  ”Guitars sound pretty much the same everywhere, says famed producer Rick Rubin, but drums change from room to room, and the sound at Sound City was among the best. Adding to the folklore, the interior of the main studio has never been painted over, nor were its linoleum tiles changed, due to fear that the change would directly affect the “legendary sound quality” of the room.

In 2011, when Sound City closed, Dave essentially bought everything, including the legendary 30+ year old mixing board and installed it in his house. Another bit of magic in this film was watching Dave in action. There are quite a few sections sprinkled in throughout the film showing Dave jamming with everyone from Paul McCartney to Stevie Nicks. Watching Dave and co. transform loose jams into solid songs blew me away as a ‘musician’ (after watching the movie I felt more like a musical instrument enthusiast or collector than any kind of musician).

Although you don’t have to be a musician to enjoy Sound City, you’ve got to love music. Check out the trailer here and do yourself a favour, take 2 minutes and 26 seconds and watch this awesome documentary.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQoOfiLz1G4

- Tamarack

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