Boing Boing Talks to Steve Albini
Steve Albini has been a profound influence on my music and general attitude towards art and life. I’ve said this before, but my friend Todd K summed up our bands’ philosophy thusly: “We listened to Steve Albini and we believed him.” Boing Boing has a great interview with Albini by Maureen Herman, once of Babes in Toyland — a group I freaking loved in 1992-93.
Go read the entire thing and then read everything else you can about Albini. This part was great and goes right at the heart of what I talk about when I talk about not asking permission or ignoring marketers:
Honestly, the biggest problem with music has always been the encroachment of outside industry into what functions best as a self-sufficient community, and that hasn’t changed. The difference is that now the record business is only a small influence relative to the corporate influence over live venues, ticket sales, merchandising and sponsorship. To the extent bands keep their shit together and manage their own affairs, now is a better time than ever to be in a band… Whenever I see some industry dinosaur pining for the old days of the sharecropper system the big labels operated on I feel about the same way I did watching the Quincy episode about punk rock. Bitching about how different things are now betrays a profound and malignant kind of stupid.
The interview mentions a letter Albini wrote to Nirvana before recording In Utero which is just one of the greatest examples of his methodology ever. You can read the entire thing here. It’s all amazing but I’ll just pull this quote:
I like to leave room for accidents or chaos. Making a seamless record, where every note and syllable is in place and every bass drum is identical, is no trick. Any idiot with the patience and the budget to allow such foolishness can do it. I prefer to work on records that aspire to greater things, like originality, personality and enthusiasm. If every element of the music and dynamics of a band is controlled by click tracks, computers, automated mixes, gates, samplers and sequencers, then the record may not be incompetent, but it certainly won’t be exceptional. It will also bear very little relationship to the live band, which is what all this hooey is supposed to be about.
And while you’re at it, go read Albini’s legendary essay, The Problem with Music.