Gun Manufacturer Lawsuit, Smart Studios Documentary, Meatball Recipes

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A lawsuit stemming from the Sandy Hook shootings advanced and was an issue in last night’s democratic debate. A gun law expert joins us to talk about the significance of the case. Madison’s Smart Studios produced music for bands like Nirvana and The Smashing Pumpkins, and now there’s a documentary about the history of the studio. The filmmaker behind the project tells us the story of Smart Studios. We also talk about some unique meatball recipes you can try at home in this week’s Food Friday.

Featured in this Show

  • Legendary Madison Recording Studio Featured In New Documentary

    A new documentary debuting this weekend in Wisconsin profiles one of the state’s legendary recording studios that engineered sessions for alternative rock superstars like Nirvana, the Smashing Pumpkins and Death Cab For Cutie.

    Madison’s Smart Studios was cofounded by producers Butch Vig and Steve Marker, who later had their own success when they founded ’90s alternative rock act, Garbage.

    Madison-based filmmaker Wendy Schneider spent the past several years creating “The Smart Studios Story,” a documentary that chronicles the history of the recording facility.

    “They basically built a clubhouse in the gestalt building on second floor in a very raw space so that they could have a place to go to kind of drink beer, hang out and make cassette recordings. That was the beginning of Smart Studios,” said Schneider, referring to the two cofounders.

    The studio produced a variety of music ranging that might be called alternative rock, punk or grunge. Its reputation quickly grew and drew bands from across the country. Some of the more notable include Killdozer, Tar Babies, Laughing Hyenas, L7, Everclear, Soul Asylum, the Promise Ring, Fall Out Boy, Sparklehorse, Jimmy Eat World and Tegan and Sara.

    “I think that Smart became a destination for bands when studios were really not destinations, nor was Madison,” said Schneider. “It’s interesting that Smart began to draw a variety of bands from across the country to the Midwest because the music that Butch and Steve were recording was getting out and being heard.”

    Perhaps the studio’s most notorious session happened in the early ’90s when Seattle-based grunge band Nirvana came in for a recording. Nirvana’s label, Sub Pop Records, took notice of the production quality happening in the Madison studio. Soon, Sub Pop label executives were sending their catalog of bands to Smart Studios.

    Schneider said the sound Vig and Marker captured was unpretentious and organic, and the two had a way of getting great performances out of the bands.

    Ultimately, it wasn’t the stories of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll that captured Scheider’s interest as she put together the documentary. Instead, she said it was the authenticity heard in the music

    “For me, what was profound about the story of Smart … is that it was a very real, very accessible environment for musicians. And there was a level of dedication and a level of skill that was brought to these sessions that was priority,” she said.

    Schneider said the studio closed its doors in 2010 due in part to the downturn of the economy and the emergence of the digital music scene where bands had easier accesses to studios and equipment.

    The documentary will air Saturday for Record Store Day at Madcity Music in Madison. Watch the trailer below:

  • Gun Manufacturer Lawsuit Highlighted In Democratic Presidential Debate

    The latest Democratic presidential debate on Thursday night spotlighted differences between candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton on the issue of gun control. The heated dialog between the two centered on a 2005 law that makes it difficult to sue gun manufacturers and gun stores for damages caused by legally-purchased firearms.

    Adam Winkler, a University of California, Los Angeles law professor, said that the law was drafted to shield the gun industry.

    “This law was designed by allies of the NRA (National Rifle Association) to prevent lawsuits against gun manufacturers and gun dealers when their guns are used by criminals to commit some crime and cause some damage,” said Winkler.

    The Clinton-Sanders debate came on the heels of a court decision that moves forward a lawsuit involving the parents of victims in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting against the makers of the rifle used in the attack.

    According to Winkler, there are a few exceptions to the immunity law. Such as if gun dealers or manufacturers knowingly violate a state or federal law, as was the circumstance in Wisconsin’s Badger Guns case.

    Winkler said the Sandy Hook families’ case is trying to test another exception on the grounds that if the gun maker is negligent in producing a firearm, then the immunity law wouldn’t cover them.

    “The plaintiff’s here are saying that Bushmaster and Remington were negligent for producing military style firearms that they knew would be used in things like mass shootings,” said Winkler, who also authored the book “Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America.”

    Winkler said Thursday’s court decision was a procedural ruling that will allow the case to continue, but in no means suggests the case will necessarily be victorious.

    Sanders supported the law in 2005, but Clinton opposed it. Clinton said in the debate said that the law was a “unique gift given to only one industry in the world.”

    Winkler agreed with this idea. He said as most industries could have liability if the manufacture knew and had reason to know that the product would be used by criminals and would be used to cause harm. However, he also added that most businesses won’t be held liable if a product is used as intended.

    As an example, Winkler said that cars are dangerous but the law could be used to make them less dangerous by holding them liable for not equipping them with seat belts, or air bags.

    “But with regards to guns, it’s the very basic feature of the gun that makes them dangerous,” he said. “These guns were being used in some ways for their intended use not in some exceptional way, and the danger that they posed was known by everybody so is it fair to hold the gun maker’s liable?”

    Winkler said the families have a tough road ahead, as time after time, similar cases usually get kicked out of court at some point.

  • Sandy Hook Parents' Lawsuit Moves Forward And Highlighted In Democratic Debate

    A lawsuit stemming from the Sandy Hook shootings advanced and was an issue in last night’s democratic debate. A gun law expert joins us to talk about the significance of the case.

  • The Smart Studios Story

    In 2010 Madison’s Smart Studios closed its doors permanently after several decades of success and influence in the music industry.

    The studio was cofounded by producers Butch Vig and Steve Marker — who later founded the Madison rock band, Garbage. In addition to recording scores of local and regional bands, the studio also hosted such big names as Nirvana, The Smashing Pumpkins, and Death Cab For Cutie.

    We talk to Madison filmmaker, Wendy Schneider, who has spent the past several years creating The Smart Studios Story, a documentary that chronicles the history of the now legendary recording facility.

  • Food Friday: Meatballs

    There are lots of different varieties of meatballs. Lori Skelton experimented with lots of variations on meatballs, and she shares what she learned.

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Veronica Rueckert Host
  • Karl Christenson Producer
  • KP Whaley Producer
  • Amanda Magnus Producer
  • Wendy Schneider Guest
  • Adam Winkler Guest
  • Lori Skelton Guest

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