(L to R: Steve Marker, Butch Vig)

Wisconsin’s DIY Scene Gets Own Doc in ‘The Smart Studios Story’

Andrew Parks

By Andrew Parks

on 03.07.14 in News

“I think people initially thought Smart was a crack house,” says Butch Vig, referring to the Smart Studios building he owned with Garbage bandmate Steve Marker for nearly 30 years. (It closed at the tail end of 2010.)

The Madison, Wisconsin landmark is set to get its own documentary in the months ahead called The Smart Studios Story. Directed by former engineer Wendy Schneider and featuring interviews with Dave Grohl, Billy Corgan, Shirley Manson, Against Me!’s Laura Jane Grace and more, it’s currently trying to fund its final round of editing and production work via Kickstarter. According to its campaign, the film is about much more than the studio itself, which was responsible for everything from Nevermind and Gish to such not-so-alt efforts as Fall Out Boy’s Take This To Your Grave and two Death Cab For Cutie albums. It also hopes to capture the Midwest’s post-hardcore scene, the early DIY-or-die days of labels like Sub Pop, Touch & Go and SST, and the local scene itself, which received some attention in recent years with the success of singer Zola Jesus.

“I kinda liked being in the Midwest,” Vig explains in the movie’s trailer, “feeling that we were isolated, that no one kinda knew what we were up to here.”

“It’s pretty fascinating when you think of Smart Studios,” adds Corgan. “All those magic moments that happened in, basically, this little shithole.”

If you’d like to celebrate said shithole by having dinner and drinks with 1/2 of Garbage, that’s up for grabs at the VIP Producer level of backing, a $10,000 package that also includes 10 VIP passes to a festival screening, a mention in the opening credits, and a Green Bay Packers skull cap. Or you could just donate $25 and call it a day, receiving a digital download of the film, 10 screen savers (we’re really back in the ’90s, aren’t we?) and a credit in a “The Wall of NOISE” thank you list.

Find out more here, and have a look at what Schneider has done so far below…