Smart Studios, the Madison, Wisc., facility where Nirvana recorded Nevermind and Smashing Pumpkins made Gish, and where co-owners Butch Vig and Steve Marker founded Garbage, has been closed for the better part of six years. But its history is being celebrated in a new documentary, “The Smart Studios Story,” which premieres Wednesday (March 16), at South By Southwest.
Vig tells us that he and Marker were initially hesitant when director Wendy Schneider approached them about the project:
“I don’t think we thought there was a very compelling story to tell. Hollywood likes to have a narrative arc, and we didn’t think that was there Really, the story is more about a scene, a snapshot of time in the Midwest and how we started the studio and the bands that came in were very underground, very do it yourself. We were so far removed from the East Coast and West Coast we were left to our own devices, and slowly the bands that recorded there started to make some noise, which led to bands that exploded in the mainstream like Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins. The great thing Wendy has down is put that all together into an interesting story.”
Vig, Marker and Schneider are in Austin this week for the premiere and to talk about the film, which they hope will be picked up for wider distribution.
Meanwhile, Vig and Marker recently completed the next Garbage album, “Strange Little Birds,” which is due out in early June with festival dates during the summer and a full North American tour this fall.
Gary Graff is an award-winning music journalist who not only covers music but has written books on Bob Seger, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen.