Smart Studios, the funky Madison, WI recording facility co-founded by producer Butch Vig, may have closed its doors in 2010, but its legend seems to have only grown in the time since then. Engineer-turned-documentarian Wendy Schneider has spent the last four years interviewing many of the acts that recorded there (Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Garbage, L7, Killdozer, Die Kreuzen, Tar Babies, Against Me! and Death Cab For Cutie among them), and is now running a Kickstarter campaign through March 30, raising funds to finish the project as a feature-length film.
For 28 years, Smart was a go-to studio for the burgeoning indie rock scene, recording acts for labels like Sub Pop, Touch and Go, Caroline, Frontier, SST and more. Along the way, the two-story building survived fires and floods (indeed, one of the giveaways for funding the film includes “a salvaged moldy relic from the famous studio flood of ’96”). Before long, the studio’s reputation grew and everyone from Depeche Mode to Beck to Nine Inch Nails to acts you never heard of were recording in the unpretentious facility off the beaten path.
Schneider, who first worked at Smart in 1993, has shot 70 hours of footage for the documentary since 2010. And who has she been talking to? As she notes on the Kickstarter page, “Amazing artists, record producers, and engineers have already given their time to this project, including Dave Grohl, Billy Corgan, Shirley Manson, Donita Sparks, Chris Walla, Against Me!’s Laura Jane Grace, Butch Vig, Steve Marker, Duke Erikson, Ben Sidran, Jeff Castelaz, and members of the bands Killdozer, Die Kreuzen, Tar Babies, Young Fresh Fellows, Appliances, Ivory Library, Bongzilla, Appliances SFB…. the list goes on.”
So take a look at the trailer above, and who knows? Maybe you’ll be compelled to provide a bit of a financial kickstart yourself.