Steve Albini

Steve Albini is a highly influential recording engineer who has worked with The Pixies, PJ Harvey, The Jesus Lizard, to name a few. He records analog-only. He is a genius, a big nerd, and apparently an asshole.

Oh, he's dangerous.

This is kind of what my yearbook photo looked like. I was a raging nerd. Really, it's not a bad thing.

Just The Facts

  1. Steve Albini only works with analog equipment. Upon seeing an iPod, he usually eats the person listening to it.
  2. In the case of Pixies and PJ Harvey, after recording with Albini for one album, they moved on to a different producer. In the case of Nirvana, they recorded an album with him and then their lead singer killed himself.
  3. Prefers not to receive residuals from album sales, and believes it is insulting to the band. He likes to say this a lot.
  4. Trash talked about The Pixies. Took it back after pretentious magazines and music fags like myself started calling them one of the best bands of all time.
  5. Trash talked Nirvana. Music media went batshit, so he took it back and recorded an album with them.
  6. Albini is to music what Tarantino is to film. They are both giant dorks.

Sound and Influence

Albini's sound is characterized as visceral and veers away from the sound of most processed pop music. One of the ways he achieves this is by making the drummer record in a bathroom, and placing zillions of microphones around the drum kit. The result is a record that sounds like it was recorded in a bathroom.

Billy Corgan has stated that Pixies's Surfer Rosa, which Albini recorded, was a huge influence on The Smashing Pumkins's style of recording. At that moment, many miles away, Albini trembled, not knowing why, but sensing that he had been responsible for something terrible.

In 2009, Albini's record label, Touch-and-Go, re-issued remastered* versions of its entire library on CD and vinyl, which hipsters and freaks immediately shelled out money for. Many overdraft charges occured.

*It is important to note that when Albini remasters an album, that basically means he leaves it the way it was. Although probably partially ego-related, this article on the remastering of Iggy and the Stooges's Raw Power indicates that he's probably doing the right thing.

Analog-Only

Part of Albini's visceral sound is his analog-only policy. His studio had Pro Tools brought in, but Albini refuses to use or even look at them. When someone else uses them, he makes sure not to go in the same room, and often goes somewhere to cry. If he sees anyone else look at them or touch them, he screams at them and storms out of the room.

In the page for the Pro Tools set up in Albini's studio, a screen cap from a video game is used as a picture, for some reason.

Bands With Weird Names

Steve Albini has fronted several bands, which along with Slint, The Jesus Lizard, Sonic Youth, The Melvins and others, has helped to define genres like noise-rock, math-rock and post-rock, and probably some other interesting genres with pretentious names.

His bands have weird names:

  • Rapeman
  • Big Black
  • Shellac (currently still touring and making albums)

I won't even wear a guitar strap conventionally!
Albini performing live with his signature guitar-strap-around-his-waist.