Bill Groom had barely celebrated his fourth straight Emmy win for production design on “Boardwalk Empire” when he was approached to board another HBO series, “Vinyl, ” set in the music scene of 1970s New York, a world steeped in sex and drugs, even as musical tastes were shifting from rock ’n’ roll to disco, punk and hip-hop.
How could he say no? The new show was co-created by “Boardwalk” writer Terence Winter and exec producer Martin Scorsese, and co-creator and executive producer Mick Jagger. Taking over from Bob Shaw, who designed the “Vinyl” pilot, Groom saw similarities between the series’ two eras. “The ’70s were a very messy period,” he says. “It was an age of youth movement and no rules, not unlike the ’20s.”
Yet, while ’20s architectural influences can still be found in New York buildings, ’70s environments have virtually disappeared. Through a combo of modified locations and soundstages, Groom’s team brought back with historical accuracy the period’s recording studios and Sam Goody record stores. Referencing photos, designers captured the mood and tone of the clubs that served as musical breeding grounds.
Despite the show’s period-authentic colors, Groom consciously minimized palette choices to avoid distractions. “The focus has to be on the characters and story,” he says.