Following success at the Sundance Film Festival, Dave Grohl’s rock documentary, Sound City: Reel to Reel, is showing at San Francisco’s Roxie Theatre through tomorrow.
The Foo Fighter’s frontman felt personally inspired to create a movie about the legendary LA Sound City recording studio after purchasing its rare analog mixing console. During the film, Grohl invites numerous rock ‘n’ roll legends to participate in chronicling the birthplace of Nirvana’s Nevermind and successes from talents like Tom Petty, Fleetwood Mac, Metallica, Rage Against the Machine and Neil Young.
Founded in 1969, the austere Southern California warehouse workshop proudly operated on tape-based equipment and as a result acquired an unparalleled reputation for premier audio recording by countless music industry veterans. Film viewers receive a fascinating glimpse at the attention to detail exhibited by talented musicians during a song’s creative development, as well as live performances by Stevie Nicks, Nine Inch Nails mastermind Trent Reznor, Queens of the Stone Age lead singer Josh Hommes and many more. Even Paul McCartney stops by for an extended jam session with Grohl, much to the director’s delight. There are also a few heart-tugging moments, like Rick Springfield crying after admitting regret for the way he treated his manager.
The film celebrates the golden era in audio recording before Pro Tools software and auto-tune techniques changed the way records are made. There is emphasis on the equipment that captures an environment’s raw sounds, but the message behind this story argues that quality music is driven by the people and to beware of digital perfectionism over the human element. Spontaneity from live collaboration drove the creation of unique inventions such as punk rock and other musical masterpieces.
Sound City only appears in theaters through February 7, but the movie is also available at the film’s website and certainly will be released through other mediums soon. There are also rumors of appreances by “Sound City Players” at SXSW, where Ghrol is a the keynote speaker, and other locations.