Sound City Documentary Review

sound cityLast year, on March 12, ex- Nirvana drummer/Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl, released his directorial debut, Sound City. Sound City is a documentary about a California recording complex that served as a recording studio to artists such as Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty, Rick Springsfield, Nine Inch Nails, Rage Against the Machine, Nirvana, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Ghrol’s goal with the documentary was to have a story about the soundboard at Sound City and how it obtained the human element/sound within the music.

Grohl began his documentary by talking nostalgically about leaving Seattle, and heading towards Van Nuys, CA in a sound city 1beat up van, and finally arriving at Sound City.  From there, the film jumped into the history of Sound City. Sound City Studios opened up in 1969 in the San Fernando Valley.  When it opened, Joe Gottfried and Tom Skeeter managed the studio. They were just two guys who just wanted to start a record company and wanted to get into artist management. Within the first year, both Gottfried and Skeeter were struggling to get the big artists to record at Sound City because the recording studios needed to get the state of the art equipment to record. Skeeter brought up the idea of purchasing a $76,000 Neve Board, made by Rupert Neeve. According to producers who have worked on the Neve board, it is the greatest sounding board, creating a wide sound with all instruments.

Throughout the documentary, Ghrol interviews a variety of managers, producers, and recording artists who all worked at Sound City Studios. These people would tell their experiences while working or recording at Sound City.  They would also talk about why they decided to pick Sound City as a recording studio. For most of the recording artists, they picked Sound City because of Nirvana’s album, Nevermind and Rick Springfield.

Nirvana recorded their CD, Nevermind at Sound City. Dave Grohl stated that he doesn’t know why Nirvana picked Sound City Studios as a recording studio, but he states that it influenced him as an artist and if he had to put words describing Sound City, it would “represent some sort of integrity, some truth.”

sound-city-mix-tapeThe documentary ended with how Sound City closed. Management was having a having a hard time keeping up with the bills and the only way they would be able to stay open was if they sold the equipment. Dave Grohl bought the Neve board that was at Sound City and put it in his home recording studio. Once he got the Neve Board set up, he invited artists who were featured in the documentary to create a soundtrack that represented Sound City. The goal of the soundtrack was to catch the vibe when all the classic albums were made. The soundtrack consists of original songs of artists. All Sound City artists took part in the recreation of these classic songs.

I would give this documentary a 4/5. I thought that this documentary was worth watching if you are interested in how any recording studio is operated and if you were interested in how the recording sound boards can capture a sound. This documentary is also worth watching if you are interested in seeing how recording artists pick the particular studios they want to record at.

Ashlee Lytle is a new DJ at KSSU. If you enjoyed this post, leave a comment down below. To check out some other blog posts I’ve posted, or the fellow KSSU DJs, visit And be sure to listen to Just No Name, Friday evenings at 6PM on  for all the latest alternative/indie music. 

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