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Q&A: Dave Grohl

In 2013, the Foo Fighter man made a film doc about Sound City Studios- where Nirvana recorded Nevermind. He explained to Classic Rock what motivated him

The 16 days Dave Grohl spent in Sound City studios in 1991, recording Nevermind with Nirvana, changed his life. A converted factory in the Los Angeles suburb of Van Nuys, Sound City was one of America's most renowned studios by the time Nirvana arrived - everyone from Neil Young to Fleetwood Mac to Ratt had recorded their breakthrough albums on its Neve console. Such was Grohl's affinity for the place that its closure in 2011 prompted him to start work on a documentary film, Sound City: Real To Reel, charting the studio’s history and music’s changing relationship with technology. “The goal was to inspire the next generation of musicians to fall in love with music like we did,” says Grohl.

Why did you want to make a film about Sound City?

I wouldn’t be who I am right now if it weren’t for Sound City. I think of that Neve board not as a part of my history, but as part of me. What a lot of people don’t take into consideration is the importance of the room where something was recorded, or the console on which it was recorded. If it weren’t for that board, I might not be here.

Then there’s the discussion of technology and the human element. I mean, why did I fall in love with John Bonham? Because of his feel, because of the way he sped up or slowed down, because of his imperfections. Keith Moon, Stewart Copeland, all of these legendary drummers were wild, and that’s what was so inspiring. Nobody’s made the movie about how technology has affected the way we listen to and hear music.

How did you decide who to interview for the film?

I said to the people at Sound City: “Give me a list of every record that was made at the studio”. They stared at me and said: “That’s impossible. There were a million records made here”. So I said: “Okay, give me a short list of big ones”. And I started calling everyone from Rick Springfield and Rick Nielsen to Neil Young and Tom Petty. Because of what Sound City represented, every single one of those people wanted to be in the movie. I didn’t have to beg anybody.

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