Dave Grhol on Soundcity’s Soundboard

Dave Grhol of the Foo Fighters talks about the Neve 8028 soundboard that was the studio console at Sound City (and why he bought it for his studio.)

Well, you know, that was a great era for recording equipment. The late ’60s and the ’70s, a lot of this really beautiful equipment was being made and installed into studios around the world and the Neve boards were considered like the Cadillacs of recording consoles. They’re these really big, behemoth-looking recording desks; they kind of look like they’re from the Enterprise in Star Trek or something like that. They’re like a grayish color, sort of like an old Army tank with lots of knobs, and to any studio geek or gear enthusiast it’s like the coolest toy in the world. But they’re pretty simple. They’re not filled with miles and miles of cable and wires — they’re pretty simple. And what you get when you record on a Neve desk is this really big, warm representation of whatever comes into it. What’s going to come out the other end is this bigger, better version of you. And so it makes you sound real, but it makes you sound really good.

So Sound City had this Neve board, and I think it’s the only thing we knew about Sound City when Nirvana went there. We’d never been to the studio; we just picked it because we heard it had this great old Neve desk. So when we came down in that old van and opened the doors to see that the place was a total dump, we were kind of shocked, you know? We had no idea. We’d been rehearsing those songs for months and months in this little barn in Tacoma, Wash. That’s where we practiced. And we knew that we had 16 days in the studio to make an album, which, to us, seemed like an eternity. I mean, we were used to recording 16 songs in a day. So this was our big break, in a way. We had signed to a major label — the David Geffen Co. — and we were coming to Los Angeles to make our record. We didn’t think that what eventually happened was going to happen but we really took it seriously. So we practiced really hard and came down to Sound City and that short amount of time to make the album. And it really did change my life forever, those 16 days. I don’t think I’d be here now if it weren’t for that time at Sound City.

Listen Now

Dave Grohl reunited with his old friend Butch Vig (at console), the producer of Nirvana's Nevermind, for the making of Sound City: Real to Reel.

Dave Grohl reunited with his old friend Butch Vig (at console), the producer of Nirvana’s Nevermind, for the making of Sound City: Real to Reel.