Steve Marker in Smart Studios, 1987. Note the studio Mac computer to his right. | via

It’s hard to believe that a nondescript, seemingly-abandoned brick building on a street corner in Madison, WI could produced records like Nirvana’s Nevermind, Smashing Pumpkin’s Gish, and Death Cab for Cutie’s Plans, but that’s exactly what Smart Studios did.

The recording space was set up by now-legendary producer Butch Vig and his Garbage bandmate Steve Marker in the early 80s for the small but thriving rock scene of their midwest town, quickly drawing interest from around the country thanks to buzz surrounding Killdozer’s 1985 Snake Boy LP. The magic couldn’t last forever though, and Smart was shutdown in 2010.

The studio’s history is now remembered in a new documentary called The Smart Studios Story, produced by Vig and directed by Wendy Schneider. The film will be screened at PhilaMOCA on November 15th.

The doc time-capsules a pivotal moment in American music as much as it traces the integral role Smart Studios had in creating that moment. As you’ll see in the trailer below, Schneider rounded up many of the studio’s key players (Dave Grohl, Billy Corbin, Shirley Manson and more) to share their memories along with tons of unreleased behind-the-scenes footage.

Watch the trailer for The Smart Studios Story below and pick up tickets for the screening here.

The Smart Studios Story – TRAILER from wendy schneider on Vimeo.