Real to Reel: Sound City

Dave Grohl has got to be the coolest dude in Rock n Roll. Not only is he a wicked good musician, but he’s been around forever and has been a part of some really big musical projects that have shaped the rock and roll world. 

With the Foo Fighters currently on hiatus, Grohl’s creative energies have jumped off the stage and behind the camera for his directorial debut Sound City, a documentary about the legendary LA studio of the same name

Sound City follows a typical documentary style laying out the colourful history of the studio with interviews from former employees and artists who all had an opportunity to be a part of the magic. Artists such as Fleetwood Mac, Neil Young, Rick Springfield, Tom Petty, Metallica, REO Speedwagon, Rage agains the Machine, Queens of the Stone Age and Foreigner all recorded there and Nirvana’s Nervermind was put to tape in those very rooms, an album which of course blew up and put the studio on the map.

But as time went on and technology grew, it was hard to deny that the recording process itself was changing. The physical and literal sense of recording music in a studio was becoming less and less standard and more people were recording through digital programs like Pro ToolsWhile these progressive options can make certain things easier, it can also arguably make certain people lazier and over saturate the market with “musicians” who may not really have any place in the business at all.

Not to mention the change in the entire dynamic of music and live shows (I was just at a show this past weekend where not a single instrument was played. Other than vocals, every other element was pre-recorded and played digitally through the sound system. Not exactly my idea of a live show).

It takes real skill to manipulate and record to tape, but once programs like Pro Tools started becoming more popular, Sound City just couldn’t keep up and eventually closed its doors in 2011. 

It was at that point that Grohl purchased several items from the studio, including the one of a kind Neve mixing console that was the foundation of every recording done in that studio. The way they spoke about that console and the sound it produced, you would think it were magic. And maybe it was, for on paper, everything about that studio shouldn’t have worked, and yet listening to the albums recorded there, that sound really is like nothing else.

But Sound City is more than the remains of a battle between analog and digital recording; it’s a nod to a family who helped produce some of the greatest albums music has ever seen and a chance for some very iconic artists to show their thanks and respect to the studio that jump started a lot of their success. It’s a celebration of the authentic human element of music, the flaws, the feeling, the things that you don’t necessarily hear in today’s music. 

Sound City is a reminder of what music used to be like and a reassurance that those genuine musicians are still out there, writing music, recording albums, creating feeling and making magic.

Sound City is currently playing at the Tiff Bell Lightbox until February 7 and is available On Demand.

images from google images