Sound City (film)

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Sound City
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Dave Grohl
Produced by
Written byMark Monroe
CinematographyKenny Stoff
Edited by Paul Crowder
  • Therapy Content
  • Diamond Docs
Distributed by
Release date
Running time
107 minutes [1] [2]
CountryUnited States
Box office$521,181 [1]

Sound City is a 2013 documentary film produced and directed by Dave Grohl, in his directorial debut, about the history of recording studio Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, Los Angeles. [3]

Documentary film nonfictional motion picture

A documentary film is a nonfictional motion picture intended to document some aspect of reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction, education, or maintaining a historical record. "Documentary" has been described as a "filmmaking practice, a cinematic tradition, and mode of audience reception" that is continually evolving and is without clear boundaries. Documentary films were originally called 'actuality' films and were only a minute or less in length. Over time documentaries have evolved to be longer in length and to include more categories, such as educational, observational, and even 'docufiction'. Documentaries are also educational and often used in schools to teach various principles. Social media platforms such as YouTube, have allowed documentary films to improve the ways the films are distributed and able to educate and broaden the reach of people who receive the information.

Dave Grohl American rock musician, multi-instrumentalist, and singer-songwriter

David Eric Grohl is an American singer, songwriter, musician and director. He is the founder, frontman, lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist and primary songwriter of the rock band Foo Fighters since 1994, and was the best-known and longest-serving drummer for Nirvana from 1990 to 1994, when they broke up, following the death of Kurt Cobain.

Sound City Studios former recording studio in Van Nuys, Los Angeles, California

Sound City Studios is a recording studio incorporated in 1969, located in Van Nuys, Los Angeles, California, USA. The facility had previously been a production factory of the British musical instrument manufacturer, Vox. The studio was officially closed in 2011, when it ceased commercial operations, but it has reopened as of early 2017.



In 1991 Nirvana recorded the album Nevermind at Sound City Studios. The band's drummer Dave Grohl was inspired to create the documentary after he purchased several items from the studio, including the Neve 8028 analog mixing console, when the studio closed in 2011. [3]

Nirvana (band) American rock band

Nirvana was an American rock band formed in Aberdeen, Washington, in 1987. It was founded by lead singer and guitarist Kurt Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic. Nirvana went through a succession of drummers, the longest-lasting and best-known being Dave Grohl, who joined in 1990. Though the band dissolved in 1994 after the death of Cobain, their music maintains a popular following and continues to influence modern rock and roll culture.

<i>Nevermind</i> 1991 studio album by Nirvana

Nevermind is the second studio album by American rock band Nirvana, released on September 24, 1991 by DGC Records. Produced by Butch Vig, it was the band's first release on the label, as well as the first to feature drummer Dave Grohl.

Neve Electronics was a manufacturer of music recording and broadcast mixing consoles and hardware. It was founded in 1961 by Rupert Neve, the man credited with creating the modern mixing console.


Sound City Studios was located in the San Fernando Valley, amidst rows of dilapidated warehouses. The little-known recording studio housed a unique analog Neve recording console and had a reputation for recording drums. Artists such as Nirvana, Kyuss, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Fleetwood Mac, Neil Young, Rick Springfield, Tom Petty, Rage Against The Machine, and Slipknot recorded groundbreaking music at the studio. The film tells the story of the studio from its early days in 1969 until its closing in 2011. It then follows Dave Grohl's purchase of the studio's custom analog Neve console, which he moved to his personal studio, Studio 606. Rupert Neve is an English engineer who founded Neve Electronics in 1961, designed and manufactured the Neve 8028, "one of four in the world", [4] and is interviewed by Grohl in the film. [5] Famous musicians who recorded at Sound City reunite at Studio 606 for a jam session and to make an album of "all-new all-original songs, each one composed and recorded exclusively for the film within its own 24-hour session on that console." [6] It also shows album covers by some bands: Red Hot Chili Peppers's One Hot Minute , Nirvana's Incesticide and Nevermind , Rage Against The Machine's self-titled album and many others.

San Fernando Valley large populated valley in Los Angeles County, California, USA

The San Fernando Valley is an urbanized valley in Los Angeles County, California in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, defined by the mountains of the Transverse Ranges circling it. Home to 1.77 million people, it is north of the larger, more populous Los Angeles Basin.

Kyuss American band

Kyuss was an American rock band, formed in Palm Desert, California, in 1987 by Josh Homme (guitar), John Garcia (vocals), Brant Bjork (drums) and Chris Cockrell (bass). After releasing an EP under the name Sons of Kyuss in 1990, the band shortened its name to Kyuss and recruited Nick Oliveri, replacing Cockrell as bassist. Over the next five years the band released four full-length albums, and one last split EP in 1997 as Kyuss and the newly formed Queens of the Stone Age. This tied up the loose ends of Kyuss and introduced the new band Queens of the Stone Age, which was initially composed entirely of former Kyuss members.

Red Hot Chili Peppers American rock band

Red Hot Chili Peppers are an American rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1983. The group's musical style primarily consists of rock with an emphasis on funk, as well as elements from other genres such as punk rock and psychedelic rock. When played live, their music incorporates elements of jam band due to the improvised nature of many of their performances. Currently, the band consists of founding members vocalist Anthony Kiedis and bassist Flea, longtime drummer Chad Smith, and former touring guitarist Josh Klinghoffer. Red Hot Chili Peppers are one of the best-selling bands of all time with over 80 million records sold worldwide, have been nominated for sixteen Grammy Awards, of which they have won six, and are the most successful band in alternative rock radio history, currently holding the records for most number-one singles (13), most cumulative weeks at number one (85) and most top-ten songs (25) on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart. In 2012, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


The film was first exhibited in the 2013 Sundance Film Festival on January 18, 2013, [7] and released on video-on-demand and in theaters on February 1, 2013. [8] It was screened on January 31 in five Australian cities (Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth). [9] The documentary was also screened in three cities in Canada (Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal) and 51 cities in the United States. [10] The film was screened for a one-off showing on February 18, 2013 in 23 theaters across the United Kingdom. [11]

2013 Sundance Film Festival 2013 film festival edition

The 2013 Sundance Film Festival took place from January 17, 2013 until January 27, 2013 in Park City, Utah, United States, with screenings in Salt Lake City, Utah, Ogden, Utah, and Sundance, Utah.

Australia Country in Oceania

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in Oceania and the world's sixth-largest country by total area. The neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and East Timor to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east. The population of 25 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, and its largest city is Sydney. The country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.

Melbourne City in Victoria, Australia

Melbourne is the capital and most populous city of the Australian state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia and Oceania. Its name refers to an urban agglomeration of 9,992.5 km2 (3,858.1 sq mi), comprising a metropolitan area with 31 municipalities, and is also the common name for its city centre. The city occupies much of the coastline of Port Phillip bay and spreads into the hinterlands towards the Dandenong and Macedon ranges, Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley. It has a population of approximately 4.9 million, and its inhabitants are referred to as "Melburnians".

After the closing credits there is a short, silent segment of a home movie showing a band getting set up. The picture freezes on one person and the following text appears: "In memory of Brian Hauge (1970 – 2012)." [12] [13] He was the key grip of the film. [14]

Closing credits At the end of a movie: a list of people who have worked in and for a movie

Closing credits or end credits are a list of the cast and crew of a particular motion picture, television program, or video game. Where opening credits appear at the beginning of a work, closing credits appear close to, or at the very end of a work. A full set of credits can include the cast and crew, but also production sponsors, distribution companies, works of music licensed or written for the work, various legal disclaimers, such as copyright and more. Some long-running productions list "production babies".

In US and Canadian filmmaking, the key grip supervises all grip crews and reports to the director of photography.


The documentary features interviews conducted by Grohl of artists associated with the studio: [15] [16]

Current or former members of the bands Dio, Black Sabbath, Heaven & Hell, Pixies, Fleetwood Mac, Nirvana, REO Speedwagon, Weezer, Ratt, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Queens of the Stone Age, Them Crooked Vultures, The Beatles, Cheap Trick, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Nine Inch Nails, Slipknot, Stone Sour, Metallica, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Fear, Foo Fighters and Rage Against The Machine appeared in the film. The drummer of Foo Fighters, Taylor Hawkins, also appeared in the film.


Critical response

Dave Grohl while directing the movie. Sound City Movie.png
Dave Grohl while directing the movie.

Sound City received overwhelmingly positive reviews. Film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 100% of critics gave the film a positive review, with an average rating of 7.7/10 based on 44 reviews. The site's consensus states: "Smart, affectionate, and unabashedly sincere, Sound City pairs a great soundtrack with a well-argued ode to one of rock 'n' roll's most fondly remembered bygone eras." [17] It was one of the highest rated limited release and documentary movies of the year on the website. [18] [19] On Metacritic the film has a score of 76 based on reviews from 15 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". [20]

Kenneth Turan from Los Angeles Times gave the film a positive review, saying "High-spirited, emotional and funny, Sound City is, of all things, a mash note to a machine. Not just any machine, however, but one that helped change the face of rock 'n' roll." [21] In a review for The Daily Telegraph , Sebastian Doggart awarded the documentary five out of five stars and proclaimed it as "an exhilarating exploration of the creative process." [22] Peter Travers of Rolling Stone admits "In his directing debut, Dave Grohl shows the instincts of a real filmmaker. Sound City hits you like a shot in the heart." [23] Bill Goodykoontz of The Arizona Republic remarks "Sound City is a music geek's dream, a rollicking look at a dumpy California studio where a lot of musicians found magic. It's also a bit of a mess, like all good rock and roll ought to be", [24] while Elizabeth Weitzman of New York Daily News praised that "Grohl's aim is to explore the aura of a place, but what he winds up proving is that people make the magic." [25]

Nevertheless Phil Gallo from Billboard stated "Grohl's inexperience as a filmmaker only shows when the film makes a sharp turn out of history and into the more recent past: There's a sense that instead of celebrating great rock 'n' roll moments, a product is about to be pitched at the viewer." [26]

The film received a Satellite Award for Best Documentary Film nomination in the 18th edition and the Cinema Eye Honor 2014 Audience Choice Prize.


Sound City: Real to Reel is the official soundtrack of the documentary and was released on March 12, 2013. The songs "Cut Me Some Slack", "From Can to Can't", "You Can't Fix This" and "Mantra" were made available on Sound City's official YouTube channel on December 14, 2012, January 15, 2013, February 15, 2013 and March 8, 2013, respectively.

See also


  1. 1 2 "Sound City". The Numbers . Nash Information Services, LLC. Retrieved June 23, 2016.
  2. Sound City on IMDb .
  3. 1 2 Blistein, Jon (July 18, 2012). "New and Hot Video: Preview: Tom Petty, Trent Reznor Reminisce in Dave Grohl's Sound City Documentary". Rolling Stone . Retrieved October 14, 2012.
  4. Filbin, Patrick (April 9, 2013). "Rock Docs: Sound City (2013)". Buzz Weekly . Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. Retrieved June 11, 2013.
  5. "Rupert Neve. Self". IMDb. Retrieved August 21, 2013.
  6. "Sound City: Real To Reel - Editorial Reviews". . Retrieved March 28, 2013.
  7. Van Syckle, Katie (January 25, 2013). "Q&A: Dave Grohl on His Sound City Doc and Taking Risks in Music". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 6, 2013.
  8. Gallagher, Brian. "Sound City Confirmed for Theatrical and VOD Release February 1, 2013". MovieWeb . Retrieved December 13, 2012.
  9. Mann, Tom (January 21, 2013). "Dave Grohl's Sound City movie to screen in Australia 'for one night only'". FasterLouder. FasterLouder Pty Ltd. Retrieved March 19, 2013.
  10. Hogan, Marc (January 14, 2013). "Dave Grohl's Sound City Documentary Is Coming to a Theater Near You". Spin . Buzz Media . Retrieved March 19, 2013.
  11. "Vue cinemas to show exclusive screening of Dave Grohl's Sound City". February 18, 2013. Retrieved May 25, 2018.
  12. "Sound City (2013). What's After The Credits?". February 1, 2013. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  13. Screenshot from Retrieved March 12, 2018.
  14. "Sound City (2013) Full Cast & Crew - Camera and Electrical Department". IMDb. Retrieved December 3, 2014.
  15. Halperin, Shirley (December 9, 2012). "Dave Grohl Writes Letter to Fans: Sound City Doc 'Is My Life's Most Important Work'". The Hollywood Reporter . Retrieved December 13, 2012.
  16. "Cast - Sound City". Retrieved December 13, 2012.
  17. "Sound City (2013)". Rotten Tomatoes . Fandango . Retrieved February 27, 2018.
  18. "The 15th Annual Golden Tomato Awards". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved January 14, 2013.
  19. "The 15th Annual Golden Tomato Awards". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved January 14, 2013.
  20. "Sound City Reviews". Metacritic . CBS Interactive . Retrieved February 1, 2013.
  21. Movie review: Sound City is homage to recording studio equipment. Los Angeles Times . Retrieved January 31, 2013.
  22. Dave Grohl's Sound City Players, Sundance Film Festival, review. Daily Telegraph . Retrieved January 23, 2013.
  23. Sound City | Movie Review. Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
  24. Sound City, 4 stars. The Arizona Republic . Retrieved January 31, 2013.
  25. Movie review: Sound City. Daily News (New York). Retrieved January 31, 2013.
  26. Gallo, Phil (January 18, 2013). "Sound City Review: Dave Grohl Shines His Light on a 'Dumpy' Mecca". Billboard . Prometheus Global Media . Retrieved April 5, 2013.