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Sundance: Grohl tells ‘Sound City’ story in directorial debut
(Courtesy photo)   Foo Fighters, led by Dave Grohl.
(Courtesy photo)   Foo Fighters, led by Dave Grohl.
(Courtesy photo)   Foo Fighters, led by Dave Grohl.
(Courtesy photo)   A scene from Dave Grohl's documentary "Sound City," part of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.
(Courtesy photo)   A scene from Dave Grohl's documentary "Sound City," part of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.
(Courtesy photo)   A scene from Dave Grohl's documentary "Sound City," part of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.
(Courtesy photo)   Dave Grohl.
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“The conversation got bigger and bigger,” Grohl said.

Slipknot and Stone Sour’s Corey Taylor was a willing interview subject, as Slipknot recorded its first album at Sound City. “It was really cool seeing [the console] again,” he said. “It was a hell of an experience.”

Taylor said he regularly gets into fights with people who insist that recording digitally is superior to analog recording — much as vinyl lovers fight with CD enthusiasts. “I’ve had vicious arguments with people about how infuriating Auto-tuning and pitch correction [affects] the sound,” Taylor said. “All that crap sucks the humanity out of it. The worst thing that ever happened was that anyone and their dog [can make a record].”

As passionate as Grohl became, he realized his limitations as a high-school dropout. So he enlisted Rota as a producer, who contacted his high-school buddy John Ramsay, an L.A.-based producer, who agreed to help with the project once he met Grohl.

“From day one, Dave was very clear about what he wanted to say about Sound City,” Ramsay said. ‘The place was very special for him. It was clear from the first meeting how big a deal it was, and how special this film would be.”

Just by looking at Foo Fighters’ body of work, Ramsay could tell that Grohl put his music where his mouth was, said the producer (whose father-in-law is Utah TV reporter Rod Decker). Foo Fighters’ most recent album, 2011’s “Wasting Light” (which won five Grammys and debuted at No. 1 in 11 countries), was recorded in Grohl’s garage with only analog equipment.

Story continues below

Mark Monroe was enlisted as the film’s writer, helping to structure the scenes and build a narrative arc. He’s written the award-winning documentaries “The Cove” and “The Pat Tillman Story” and has two other documentaries screening at this year’s Sundance Film Festival: “The Summit” and “Who is Dayani Cristal?” He, too, was impressed by Grohl’s fire.

“One thing about directing is that you have to communicate with others,” Monroe said. “Dave has that in spades. … You’re talking about a premier storyteller. In the first five minutes [of their meeting], he wanted to inspire people to play instruments and play them together.”

Here’s how Monroe summed up Grohl: “First-time filmmaker, longtime storyteller.”

Grohl was in a unique position to tell the story of the legendary studio, but he was grateful to find other voices. “I didn’t expect everyone to be as in love with Sound City as I did,” he said.

But the studio, tucked away behind train tracks and crumbling warehouses in the surface-of-the-sun-hot San Fernando Valley, represented what makes the heart of rock beat, a sound that continues on. “It’s not dead,” Grohl said.


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Sundance Film Festival » Nirvana and Foo Fighters member creates documentary about legendary studio.

At a glance

“Sound City”

Documentary Premieres

Jan. 18, 2:30 p.m. » The MARC, 1200 Little Kate Road, Park City

Jan. 19, 8:30 a.m. » Library Center Theatre, 1255 Park Ave., Park City

Jan. 19, 6 p.m. » Sundance Resort Screening Room, North Fork, Provo Canyon, Sundance Resort

Jan. 22, 6 p.m. » Salt Lake City Library Theatre, 210 E. 400 South, Salt Lake City

Jan. 24, 11:45 p.m. » Library Center Theatre, 1255 Park Ave., Park City

Jan. 27, 6 p.m. » Tower Theatre, 876 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City

Some albums recorded at Sound City Studios

Nirvana » “Nevermind”

Fleetwood Mac » “Rumours” and “Fleetwood Mac”

Neil Young » “After the Gold Rush”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers » “Damn the Torpedoes” and “Southern Accents”

Rage Against the Machine » “Rage Against the Machine”

Dr. John » “Dr. John’s Gumbo”

Johnny Cash » “Unchained”

Metallica » “Death Magnetic”

Nine Inch Nails » “The Slip” and “With Teeth”

Slipknot » “Iowa”

Weezer » “Pinkerton”

Tool » “Undertow”

Grateful Dead » “Terrapin Station”

Cheap Trick » “Heaven Tonight”

Foreigner » “Double Vision”

Red Hot Chili Peppers » “One Red Hot Minute”

The Black Crowes » “Amorica”

Blind Melon » “Blind Melon”

Carl Perkins » “Go Cat Go”

Josh Groban » “Illuminations”

Mastodon » “The Hunter”

Death Cab for Cutie » “Codes and Keys”

Dave Grohl’s “Sound City” Players

Featuring » John Fogerty, Stevie Nicks, Dave Grohl, Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic; Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen; fellow Foo Fighters Chris Shiflett, Taylor Hawkins, Pat Smear (also of Nirvana) and Nate Mendel; Rick Springfield; Rage Against the Machine’s Brad Wilk; Slipknot’s Corey Taylor; Chris Goss; Alain Johannes; Fear’s Lee Ving; Jessy Greene, Rami Jaffee and more.

When » Friday, Jan. 18, 9 p.m.

Where » Park City Live, 427 Main St., Park City

Tickets » Sold out

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