Sound City (film)

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Sound City
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDave Grohl
Produced byDave Grohl
James A. Rota
John Ramsay
Written byMark Monroe
CinematographyKenny Stoff
Editing byPaul Crowder
StudioTherapy Content
Diamond Docs
Distributed by
Release dates
Running time108 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Box office$422,853[2]
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Sound City
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDave Grohl
Produced byDave Grohl
James A. Rota
John Ramsay
Written byMark Monroe
CinematographyKenny Stoff
Editing byPaul Crowder
StudioTherapy Content
Diamond Docs
Distributed by
Release dates
Running time108 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Box office$422,853[2]

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]

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)."[4][5] He was the key grip of the film.[6]


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]

Synopsis [edit]

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 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",[7] and is interviewed by Grohl in the film.[8] 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."[9] 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.


The film was first exhibited in the 2013 Sundance Film Festival on January 18, 2013,[10] and released on video-on-demand and in theaters on February 1, 2013.[11] It was screened on January 31 in five Australian cities (Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth).[12] The documentary was also screened in three cities in Canada (Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal) and 51 cities in the United States.[13] The film was screened for a one-off showing on February 18, 2013 in 23 theaters across the United Kingdom.[14]

Appearances [edit]

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


Critical response[edit]

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 based on 41 reviews, with a weighted average of 7.7/10. 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, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 based on reviews from critics, 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 in his review for, Tim Grierson wrote that it "is just a fun collection of unlikely musical pairings that zips by in little less than an hour",[26] and 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."[27]

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
Soundtrack album by Various Artists
ReleasedMarch 12, 2013
RecordedNovember 2–3, 2011 in Studio 606 West in Northridge, Los Angeles, California
ProducerButch Vig
Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
About.com4/5 stars [29]
Allmusic3/5 stars[30]
The Austin Chronicle3/5 stars[31]
The A.V. ClubC+[32]
BBC Music70/100[33]
Consequence of Sound2.5/5 stars[34]
Jukebox:Metal4/5 stars[36]
NME7/10 stars[37]
Pitchfork Media(5.3/10)[38]
Rolling Stone3.5/5 stars[39]

Sound City: Real to Reel is the official soundtrack of the documentary. It was officially 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. Grohl founded the supergroup Sound City Players with many of the musicians who appear in this movie, and with which he played live the soundtrack.

The soundtrack received two Grammy Awards: Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media and Best Rock Song, with "Cut Me Some Slack".

Track listing[edit]

Track listing[41]
1."Heaven and All"  Robert Levon Been, Dave Grohl, Peter Hayes5:27
2."Time Slowing Down"  Chris Goss, Tim Commerford, Grohl, Brad Wilk5:58
3."You Can't Fix This"  Stevie Nicks, Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Rami Jaffee5:56
4."The Man That Never Was"  Rick Springfield, Grohl, Hawkins, Nate Mendel, Pat Smear3:24
5."Your Wife Is Calling"  Lee Ving, Grohl, Hawkins, Alain Johannes, Smear3:20
6."From Can to Can't"  Corey Taylor, Grohl, Rick Nielsen, Scott Reeder4:50
7."Centipede"  Josh Homme, Goss, Grohl, Johannes5:10
8."A Trick With No Sleeve"  Johannes, Grohl, Homme4:55
9."Cut Me Some Slack"  Paul McCartney, Grohl, Krist Novoselic, Smear4:38
10."If I Were Me"  Grohl, Jessy Greene, Jaffee, Jim Keltner4:10
11."Mantra"  Grohl, Homme, Trent Reznor7:43
Total length:





Chart (2013)Peak
Australian Albums Chart[43]6
Austrian Albums Chart[43]12
Belgian Albums Chart (VL)[43]17
Belgian Album Chart (WA)[43]51
Top Canadian Albums[44]3
Danish Albums Chart[43]23
Dutch Albums Chart[43]9
Finnish Albums Chart[43]33
French Albums Chart[43]76
New Zealand Albums Chart[43]5
Norwegian Albums Chart[43]18
Swiss Albums Chart[43]14
UK Albums Chart[45]19
US Billboard 200[44][46]8
US Billboard Top Hard Rock Albums[44]1
US Billboard Top Modern Rock/Alternative Albums[44]2
US Billboard Top Rock Albums[44]4
US Billboard Top Soundtracks[44]1


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  2. ^ "Sound City (2013)". Box Office Mojo. April 7, 2013. Retrieved April 17, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b 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. ^ "Sound City (2013). What's After The Credits?". February 1, 2013. Retrieved October 1, 2013. 
  5. ^ Screenshot from
  6. ^ "Filmography by year for Brian L. Hauge". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved February 2, 2014. 
  7. ^ Filbin, Patrick (April 9, 2013). "Rock Docs: Sound City (2013)". Buzz Weekly (Champain-Urbana, Illinois). Retrieved June 11, 2013. 
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  10. ^ 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. 
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  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 reviews". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved February 1, 2013. 
  18. ^ "The 15th Annual Golden Tomato Awards". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
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  20. ^ "Sound City Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". 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.
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  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. ^ Grierson, Tim (March 12, 2013). "Sound City: Real to Reel Soundtrack Review". Retrieved May 20, 2013. 
  27. ^ 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. 
  28. ^ "Sound City: Real to Reel reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved April 16, 2013. 
  29. ^
  30. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Sound City: Real to Reel - Review". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved March 14, 2013. 
  31. ^ Stegall, Tim (March 15, 2013). "Review: Sound City". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved March 14, 2013. 
  32. ^ Heller, Jason (March 12, 2013). "Various Artists: Sound City: Real To Reel OST". The A.V. Club. Onion Inc. Retrieved March 14, 2013. 
  33. ^ Pearlman, Mischa (March 6, 2013). "Various Artists Sound City: Real to Reel Review". BBC Music. Retrieved March 14, 2013. 
  34. ^ Hadusek, Jon (March 12, 2013). "Album Review: Various Artists – Sound City: Real to Reel". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved March 14, 2013. 
  35. ^ Orzeck, Kurt (March 12, 2013). "Sound City: Real to Reel [soundtrack] - RCA". Filter. Retrieved March 14, 2013. 
  36. ^ Andy Lye. "Jukebox:Metal review". 
  37. ^ Beaumont, Mark (March 8, 2013). "Sound City Players - Sound City: Real To Reel Soundtrack". NME. Retrieved March 14, 2013. 
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  39. ^ Dolan, Jon (March 12, 2013). "Sound City: Real to Reel". Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 14, 2013. 
  40. ^ Marchese, David (February 11, 2013). "Various Artists, Sound City: Real to Reel". Spin. Retrieved March 14, 2013. 
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External links[edit]