STEVE ALBINI

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I love the Shellac song "Ghosts". Did anything in particular inspire it or is there anything interesting about it you can share with us?

Just had the idea that if you could conjure ghosts it would be a pretty terrible power. Like you could just make somebody dead and a ghost just like that. Or take a regular dead person and make him a restless specter forced to roam the earth forever. And if the person with that power was a little girl, just amusing herself by making ghosts like she was making paper dolls or whatever. How cute and also horrible that would be. And then what kind of people would she do that to? Maybe a historical figure she learned about in school or another kid from the neighborhood or somebody from TV...

^^^love this, probably my fav shellac lyrics and i appreciate the insight

call all destroyer, Sunday, 13 May 2012 22:30 (2 years ago) Permalink

surfer rosa & tweez, albums that would not be as good as they are if albini hadn't imposed his vision on them - I would think that this might cause him to question the aesthetic he arrived at ("hands off") tbh

― cosi fan whitford (underrated aerosmith bootlegs I have owned), Sunday, May 13, 2012 8:25 AM (10 hours ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

this is sort of interesting to me--i think steve is still imposing his vision tbh, you can recognize his recordings instantly. maybe it's more like these days you know what you're getting if you record with him?

call all destroyer, Sunday, 13 May 2012 22:31 (2 years ago) Permalink

i think he's just more inclined to slip his vision in through the back door when no one's looking

10. “Pour Some Sugar On Me” – Tom Cruise (contenderizer), Sunday, 13 May 2012 22:37 (2 years ago) Permalink

It's a little like the Dogme 95 folks not imposing their vision with recorded music, fake lights, etc.--when of course you can spot a Dogme 95 movie from a block away.

caro's johnson (Eazy), Sunday, 13 May 2012 23:05 (2 years ago) Permalink

to be honest i can't hear any sonic difference between surfer rosa and doolittle -- maybe it's the MP3s?
the stooges album sounded like a regular high-gloss rock album.

Philip Nunez, Sunday, 13 May 2012 23:13 (2 years ago) Permalink

In a way yeah he seems more like an engineer, someone who knows how to get a good sound and use the right mics. He says thats lots of times producers are responsible for you know, hiring a saxophone or crafting the arrangement or basically co-writing the song as recording. On Surfer he suggested a tempo change and pushed for the in-studio sounds ("You effing die!") but you get the sense he thinks of his job as simply getting the best sonic representation of a song/band. This is why he doesn't take royalties, I'm sure with his work ethic, if he was laying down synth patterns and extra instruments and stuff, he'd want credit.

The difference is between scaled-down multi-track analog and like a far more expensive 24-channel digital system. If you can't tell the difference then I'd say he did a pretty terrific job!

Emperor Cos Dashit (Adam Bruneau), Monday, 14 May 2012 03:08 (2 years ago) Permalink

it also matters a lot who mixes the record and who they're answering to/who they feel their obligation is to (label vs. artist vs. themselves vs. idk "posterity" or something) -- mix is 1) an entirely different discipline from recording/engineering and 2) absolutely as important as the recording itself. I don't know who mixed those Pixies records but that'd be where I'd look most for differences.

cosi fan whitford (underrated aerosmith bootlegs I have owned), Monday, 14 May 2012 03:18 (2 years ago) Permalink

surfer rosa was all albini. doolittle was a gil norton production but some other dude mixed it

our love will change the world (electricsound), Monday, 14 May 2012 03:21 (2 years ago) Permalink

1 year passes...

http://thequietus.com/articles/13250-steve-albini-interview-rapeman-shellac

The most amazing thing is that he says he tried to get Bill Withers to play ATP...BILL WITHERS!!...The guy has gone up a billion fold in my estimations...just too bizarre...my mind has been blown...

The Pastiche Liberation Front (sonnyboy), Monday, 2 September 2013 22:18 (1 year ago) Permalink

3 weeks pass...

http://m.imgur.com/a/p0tKn

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 26 September 2013 17:16 (11 months ago) Permalink

^^^Must read bit o' epistolary history.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 26 September 2013 17:18 (11 months ago) Permalink

I heard about Albini's admiration of Bill Withers several years back. It makes sense, with Withers' mostly stripped-down production (at least on early albums), his down-to-earth demeanor, posing for the covers with his lunchbox on break from work. There's also a great story in the James Brown book about how Brown was having a diva fit on a small plane on the way to the Rumble In The Jungle concert in Zaire, until Withers pulled a gigantic hunting knife on Brown to tell him to STFU. Badass!

Fastnbulbous, Thursday, 26 September 2013 17:27 (11 months ago) Permalink

his description of the overwrought nature of bad recording processes reminds me a little too painfully of a recording I made, where we somehow turned what we thought was great material into a mediocre record by (1) the engineer not really getting our live sound and (2) way too much drawn out tinkering and rejiggering

#fomo that's the motto (Hurting 2), Thursday, 26 September 2013 17:46 (11 months ago) Permalink

awesome letter. so much respect for albini, especially that last bit about the money.

Z S, Thursday, 26 September 2013 19:35 (11 months ago) Permalink

There's likely a bit of an underlying sales-tactic angle to all that though, don't you think?

xpost

Evan, Thursday, 26 September 2013 19:38 (11 months ago) Permalink

love the spirit of the letter, and many of the details, but who says a recording has to sound like a live band? there are so many other things a recording can be.

fact checking cuz, Thursday, 26 September 2013 19:38 (11 months ago) Permalink

albini is such a joy to read, and a great dude all around.

marcos, Thursday, 26 September 2013 19:54 (11 months ago) Permalink

I think albini's point is that if you're recording a rock band, it should sound like a rock band

also maybe it's the cynical in me but weird that this is circulating the week of the in utero reissue

a hard dom is good to find (Edward III), Thursday, 26 September 2013 20:23 (11 months ago) Permalink

uh, i think it's explicitly part of the promo (included in the box set)?

also <3 beau and his twitter.

festival culture (Jordan), Thursday, 26 September 2013 20:25 (11 months ago) Permalink

the fugazi session he mentions was scrapped though, and, ironically, he kind of failed to make them sound like themselves. Everyone has their artistic failures I guess.

#fomo that's the motto (Hurting 2), Thursday, 26 September 2013 20:29 (11 months ago) Permalink

it should sound like a rock band

which sounds like what exactly?

fact checking cuz, Thursday, 26 September 2013 20:32 (11 months ago) Permalink

There's likely a bit of an underlying sales-tactic angle to all that though, don't you think?

― Evan, Thursday, September 26, 2013 12:38 PM (55 minutes ago)

Not really as Kurt had approached Steve about recording the follow-up to Nevermind... not the other way around.

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Thursday, 26 September 2013 20:35 (11 months ago) Permalink

the fugazi session he mentions was scrapped though, and, ironically, he kind of failed to make them sound like themselves

Nah, they sound like themselves on it

you are kind, I am (waterface), Thursday, 26 September 2013 20:37 (11 months ago) Permalink

Albini made good records in part because he had an approach that he believed in and stuck to. He talks about it dogmatically as though it is *the* approach, which it isn't, but the fact that he was so adamant about it made him a better engineer/producer imo.

#fomo that's the motto (Hurting 2), Thursday, 26 September 2013 20:37 (11 months ago) Permalink

This sounds like ass:

the drums are all pushed out and the guitars, which are what really drive the band, are kind of crushed

#fomo that's the motto (Hurting 2), Thursday, 26 September 2013 20:39 (11 months ago) Permalink

Yeah, they definitely didn't sound like that live. Weird choices on Albini's part. And arrg weird panning on the drum kit. Hate that.

punt cased (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Thursday, 26 September 2013 20:44 (11 months ago) Permalink

Yeah it doesn't sound that different than the Kill Taker version to me.

you are kind, I am (waterface), Thursday, 26 September 2013 20:45 (11 months ago) Permalink

Keep in mind those are DEMOS

you are kind, I am (waterface), Thursday, 26 September 2013 20:45 (11 months ago) Permalink

sounds way different from Killtaker

#fomo that's the motto (Hurting 2), Thursday, 26 September 2013 20:47 (11 months ago) Permalink

i don't like the slint stuff with albini because it sounds too albini. and yet i don't mind the same albini touch on the breeders/pixies stuff. sometimes it works for me and sometmes it doesn't.

scott seward, Thursday, 26 September 2013 20:48 (11 months ago) Permalink

otm. Breeders' Pod is my favorite Albini production.

punt cased (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Thursday, 26 September 2013 20:51 (11 months ago) Permalink

so how much did Nirvana paid him eventually?

nostormo, Thursday, 26 September 2013 20:51 (11 months ago) Permalink

since albini refuses to take points on albums he records, nirvana paid him by giving him several points on hole's live through this.

fact checking cuz, Thursday, 26 September 2013 20:52 (11 months ago) Permalink

lol

#fomo that's the motto (Hurting 2), Thursday, 26 September 2013 20:53 (11 months ago) Permalink

he got paid like $100K iirc

call all destroyer, Thursday, 26 September 2013 20:56 (11 months ago) Permalink

SUCKER!

nostormo, Thursday, 26 September 2013 20:57 (11 months ago) Permalink

Didn't he say he went broke soon after though?

punt cased (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Thursday, 26 September 2013 20:58 (11 months ago) Permalink

regardless

nostormo, Thursday, 26 September 2013 20:59 (11 months ago) Permalink

i think Surfer Rosa was one of his best works, and iirc he didn't like the record so much at first.

so i take with grain of salt his remark about the correlation between the quality of the result and the mood of the band.

nostormo, Thursday, 26 September 2013 21:02 (11 months ago) Permalink

Albini made good records in part because he had an approach that he believed in and stuck to. He talks about it dogmatically as though it is *the* approach, which it isn't, but the fact that he was so adamant about it made him a better engineer/producer imo.

feel like this is a real truth bomb about a certain kind of artist in general

Tyskie in the giro (Noodle Vague), Thursday, 26 September 2013 21:04 (11 months ago) Permalink

he also knew how to choose good bands to work with most of the times..

nostormo, Thursday, 26 September 2013 21:05 (11 months ago) Permalink

Bush...

scott seward, Thursday, 26 September 2013 21:08 (11 months ago) Permalink

if he would've made a masterpiece with Backstreet Boys, he was now the truly the god of all producers lol

of course he is a great producer, but it's easier to be good with Jesus Lizard than with Bush

nostormo, Thursday, 26 September 2013 21:09 (11 months ago) Permalink

He would probably admit that!

you are kind, I am (waterface), Thursday, 26 September 2013 21:10 (11 months ago) Permalink

i don't really care about notions of "good bands" and i don't think it's relevant to Albini's process - he worked with whoever he chose, whether that be for financial or aesthetic reasons

Tyskie in the giro (Noodle Vague), Thursday, 26 September 2013 21:11 (11 months ago) Permalink

i always dreamed about a collaboration between SY and Albini. that could have been their last masterpiece..

i guess he fucked it with that Rapeman song..among other stuff..

nostormo, Thursday, 26 September 2013 21:13 (11 months ago) Permalink

true, i'm talking about the result
xpost

nostormo, Thursday, 26 September 2013 21:14 (11 months ago) Permalink

The 18th Dye record sounds fantastic!

Evan, Thursday, 26 September 2013 21:16 (11 months ago) Permalink

I imagine that letter being typed out live on a sturdy but analog typewriter with no edits and no click track.

Philip Nunez, Thursday, 26 September 2013 21:17 (11 months ago) Permalink


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