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Sonic Highways HBO trailer released – taking a deeper look

By Simon

HBO today released an extended trailer for the upcoming 'Sonic Highways' HBO series, we take a closer look at what we can see and hear in the trailer.

A few hours ago the full length (3:30) trailer for the HBO TV series ‘Sonic Highways’ was uploaded by HBO on their official YouTube page. View the full thing below.

So except for a generally kickass teaser for both the upcoming series and music from the album of the same name, what other interesting things can we take this trailer? We’re going to go through it frame by frame to see what nuggets of information we can glean from it.

The trailer kicks off with shots of the band inside Preservation Hall in New Orleans, one of the eight locations used to record the album tracks.  We quickly see glimpses of Rami Jaffee playing piano, Hawkins drumming followed by shots of the whole band recording the song inside the main room. The audio over the clip is presumably the live sound captured on a video camera, rather than the direct recording onto tape.

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We then get one of many shots of Grohl writing lyrics for the songs, something he said he only did at the very end of the recording process. In this first shot we’re not able to see the lyrics on the sheet however, and the trailer then moves on with further shots of the band recording inside the hall. We then get our first clear shot of guests recording on the album, the entire Preservation Hall band shown recording various brass instruments. We then see a quick glimpse of one member on the piano.

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The clip then moves on and as it does so the ‘live’ audio from New Orleans is replaced with a direct studio recording of the song featured in the original teaser. Grohl voices over the clip describing the basic premise and we see quick shots of the band in several studios. Steve Albini is seen inside his studio, Electrical Audio, as well as a short clip of him being interviewed.

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We then see quick glimpses of some of the interviewees for the series including Slash, Rick Nielsen, Clive Davis, Willie Nelson, Trombone Shorty, Dolly Parton, Big Tony of Trouble Funk and even President Obama, inside The White House no less!

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Yet more interviewees are seen including Mackelmore, Joan Jett, Rick Rubin and as well as a small audio teaser of the Obama interview. Further faces are very quickly flashed across the screen, which can be identified once viewed frame per frame. We see Pharell Williams, Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, Josh Homme, LL Cool J, Joe Walsh, Mario Lalli, Hutch and many, many more. Check them all out below.

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We then hear the voice of producer Butch Vig speaking of his worries tracking the first song whilst seeing shots of Joe Walsh, Joan Jett and Gary Clark Jr., instruments in hand, presumably whilst recording as guests for the album.

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Back to DC next and whilst seeing shots inside the legendary Inner Ear Studio we hear Nate speaking for the first time, noting that he was most looking forward to visiting this studio. The audio of a song had been playing throughout this section and we are then treated to a few clips of the band performing the song in a studio, the clip cutting to the same “It’s goes Oh Oh Oh!” section heard in the YouTube teaser for the album.

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We then get our first glimpse into the lyric writing process of the record. We see an interview with Buddy Guy where he describes how he could “take a button on a string” and make a sound with it. Grohl is then seen writing lyrics directly incorporating that idea.

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We can also see a line in the lyrics containing the words ‘Is A River’, suggesting these are the lyrics for the final song on the record, ‘I Am A River’. We then see Pharell Williams talking about his DC memories as the song clip ramps up in the background. The clip then cuts to scenes showing the band recording this song in the studio along with guest musician Rick Neilsen.

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The audio of the song then continues beyond any of the previous teasers and alongside further shots of the live performance we hear Grohl sing the lyrics ‘I’m Something from nothing’, confirming what many had thought, that this teaser song we had heard across several teasers was in fact the first from the record, ‘Something From Nothing’.

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In the middle of that we see another shot of lyrics, this time more complete but shown from the rear. Thanks to user Spektugalo on the Foo Fighters message board with a little editing we can see the lyrics the correct way around. The lyrics refer to ‘In The Clear’ several times, suggesting they are the lyrics for that song, the sixth on the record.

Perhaps surprising considering how much live footage is available to them we see a brief glimpse of the August 31st 2002 performance for UK TV show CD:UK. We see a few more clips of the performance before the trailer fades to the logo and we’re left wanting more! Finally we see confirmation that the first episode of the series premieres on October 17th at 11pm, 10 central in the United States.

Spot anything we missed? Let us know in the comments!