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>> Denizen of the Citizens Band <<

5289 Posts

Posted - 07/23/2004 :  11:01:21  Show Profile  Click to see billgoodman's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by gauth

Albini is the bomb. I can't describe that shiver when I hear the first beats on Surfer Rosa...

A-hole? No. If the Pixies had such a success, it is certainly partly because of him! He gave them a recognizable sound.

so did Gil Norton and Gary Smith

"I joined the Cult of Frank/Nobody wanted to join my Culf"
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curious bystander
- FB Fan -

1 Posts

Posted - 07/23/2004 :  14:32:26  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I just stumbled upon this forum looking for info on Albini just on a quest of inside dirt, and I can appreciate what everyone says, you all seem respectful and thoughtful...

Here are some thoughts I have that Id be curious to see feedback on. Big Black was a great band, I never saw them live but not because I wasn't around at the time, so I can't speak to that.. but the Pixies, now, I just think that there was a driving genius behind that band.. and I credit it to Frank Black. He is a natural. Well the whole band too, but there was a magic there that Albini happened to be able to share in, give ideas, all that. An engineer/producer gives suggestions, but the band itself is truly what makes the music great. Why do producers want to work with certain bands anyway? Well if they can be picky its because they know, they know.... they can tweak levels, but I just cant imagine that the Pixies all said, hey Steve, we dont have a clue and you can just tell us how to do everything.. not them.

And so Nirvana loves the Pixies (I have trouble naming folks that don't), and stands to reason that you bring in the engineer with experience with a sound you like to help you get there. Albini's break I suspect then is really about working with Nirvana. Now he has worked with bands that put him in the history books, and he has some underground clout, but Im not so sure working with Pixies and the Breeders would have clinched him to still be in a situation where he is still a sought after producer. And carrying over the anti A&R rhetoric certainly will appeal to more savvy musicians. But folks in the business tell me he, sucks corporate head all the time.

And is it a joke about saying that he likes McClusky? If he is trying to purport an image of an anti A&R philosophy then it's a real stretch to say you like an average band with a lot of money behind them. Can someone please explain that to me?

And lastly.. I hate to say it but when I saw the Breeders live they were embarrassingly bad. Sorry. I love them recorded, but oh man. I saw them at the Warfield in San Francisco. That's a big deal. That's where you are suppose to shine if you can..
And.. really lastly, as much as I liked Big Black, I can't listen to them now. But after 15 or so years as a Pixies fan, Im always pleased to have a listen.

Thanks for listening to my rant!!
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- A 'Fifth' Catholic -

11546 Posts

Posted - 11/12/2005 :  02:22:59  Show Profile  Reply with Quote

Zao set to record with Steve Albini (Nirvana, The Pixies, Neurosis, Helmet, Slint, F-Minus)
Posted by aubin on Wednesday, November 9, 2005 at 6:04:19 PM (EST)

For their sophomore release for Ferret, influential metalcore act, Zao has enlisted legendary producer Steve Albini. Albini, a veteran producer who was responsible for major releases from Nirvana and the Pixies, also handled a number of underground favorites like records from Neurosis, Slint, Pegboy, F-Minus and The Ex.

The band is currently demoing material for the record, which drummer Jeff Gretz has jokingly dubbed The George Lucas Neckfat, and plans to enter Albini's Electrical Audio studios in January. A Spring release is planned.

The band will soon release The Lesser Lights of Heaven, a double-DVD which will span the band's entire career and is due out in October. It was directed by longtime friend and manager Ryan Downey, a music journalist and former writer/producer for MTV and reporter for MSNBC. The set will include a two-hour documentary with interviews with the present lineup, ex-members, friends, label staff and peers in other bands. talking about the history and influence of the band. It is due out November 15th.
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* Dog in the Sand *

1484 Posts

Posted - 11/13/2005 :  08:04:24  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Didn't he record all the Jesus Lizard stuff? He's a good man for that. But when they jumped over to Capital records for their last record and left him behind he kind of got pissy about it.
Maybe he's just "a controversial guy" like another producer we all know.
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- A 'Fifth' Catholic -

11546 Posts

Posted - 11/14/2005 :  13:23:31  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
He made some disparaging comments about Urge Overkill selling out, saying something like they'd end up giving blowjobs for bus change, or something!

"I seem to have rejoined the cult of FB.Net!"
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number 13
= Cult of Ray =

286 Posts

Posted - 11/14/2005 :  14:10:32  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Albini recorded the drums, took the money and said "hello". No more, no less. The guitars sound was the Pixies sound and the same applies for vocals.
Norton gave them a real sound, he manufactured it, the songs were more structured (listen to Doolittle demos and then the released one.

Albini wasn't reluctant to record the Pixies. He thought the songs were good, especially Gigantic. But his goal was to get straight and got an abrasive sound. It was achevied. In my opinion, the drums are brutal (Bone Machine), the guitars are on fire and dirty (all the tracks ! )... The only complaint would concern the vocals...
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- A 'Fifth' Catholic -

11546 Posts

Posted - 11/14/2005 :  14:20:09  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I actually like the way the vocals sound kind of in the background, sometimes. A great live-in-the-studio sound! It really breathes, it's three-dimensional.

"I seem to have rejoined the cult of FB.Net!"
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>> Denizen of the Citizens Band <<

5289 Posts

Posted - 11/14/2005 :  14:54:44  Show Profile  Click to see billgoodman's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by HeywoodJablome

Didn't he record all the Jesus Lizard stuff? He's a good man for that. But when they jumped over to Capital records for their last record and left him behind he kind of got pissy about it.
Maybe he's just "a controversial guy" like another producer we all know.

you mean phil spector?

God save the Noisies
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* Dog in the Sand *

1484 Posts

Posted - 11/17/2005 :  18:57:38  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by billgoodman

Originally posted by HeywoodJablome

Didn't he record all the Jesus Lizard stuff? He's a good man for that. But when they jumped over to Capital records for their last record and left him behind he kind of got pissy about it.
Maybe he's just "a controversial guy" like another producer we all know.

you mean phil spector?

God save the Noisies

No, Alan Parsons.
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>> Denizen of the Citizens Band <<

7349 Posts

Posted - 11/17/2005 :  22:54:36  Show Profile  Visit vilainde's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Trivia: there's a French band called "Enregistré par Steve Albini" ("recorded by steve albini"). I don't know what they sound like but I love their name. Of course, they've never been produced by him.


"You know what? You know what? You know what? Shut the fuck up!"
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>> Denizen of the Citizens Band <<

5289 Posts

Posted - 11/18/2005 :  00:46:36  Show Profile  Click to see billgoodman's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote
great name!

God save the Noisies
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* Dog in the Sand *

United Kingdom
2231 Posts

Posted - 11/18/2005 :  00:59:47  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
He certainly doesn't come out of the 'Fool the World' book very well.
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* Dog in the Sand *

1484 Posts

Posted - 11/18/2005 :  19:04:19  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I seem to remember a band from France called the Fuckin Frenchies. Or maybe it was the name of their album. I saw it at Underdog records once and almost picked it up because you rarely hear about any kind of loud band coming out of that country.
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- FB Fan -

185 Posts

Posted - 11/24/2005 :  02:15:09  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Carl

I actually like the way the vocals sound kind of in the background, sometimes. A great live-in-the-studio sound! It really breathes, it's three-dimensional.

I concur.

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- FB Fan -

1 Posts

Posted - 12/15/2005 :  08:10:03  Show Profile  Visit stefwsw's Homepage  Reply with Quote
you can download music from the band EnreGisTré pAr Steve alBini on www.enregistreparstevealbini.tk
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= Cult of Ray =

908 Posts

Posted - 12/15/2005 :  10:18:39  Show Profile  Visit matto's Homepage  Reply with Quote
A couple of years ago I saw Edith Frost in L.A., and asked her what Albini was like. She said "he's just kind of a normal guy, a little eccentric, but he's great".

He did write an essay about going to whore houses that consisted of stalls with drains in them, that charming man. His studio's website has pretty decent rates for recording (as far as I can tell). So, anyone wanna go in with me and hire him as engineer?
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Visiting Sasquatch
= Cult of Ray =

451 Posts

Posted - 12/25/2005 :  14:01:05  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Just an fyi: I read this excerpt from a review of the book in question, "Our Band Could Be Your Life" by Michael Azerrad.

"For people he obviously didn't talk to, like Steve Albini, he instead pastes together quotes taken from 1980s fanzine interviews and places them in the book like they were actual recollections."

Perhaps the quote is taken out of context, given the time period of the quotes, or is a misleading edit by Azerrad...

I guess I'll have to actually buy the book to read the quote, as I can't find it on google.
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= Cult of Ray =

908 Posts

Posted - 01/30/2006 :  14:45:39  Show Profile  Visit matto's Homepage  Reply with Quote

Eyewitness Record Reviews
By Steve Albini in Forced Exposure #17, 1991

Record reviewers have been at an enormous disadvantage since the advent
of the multi-track recording in the late 1950s. No longer can any assumptions
be made about the conditions under which a record was recorded. I am now able
to write the first truly informed series of record reviews since the dawn of
that accursed technology. I can comment on records I saw being made.
When I am hired to record a band, I make it plain to my clients that I do
not wish to be associated with their charming little records. I will do a
good job for them, but that does not include shouldering any responsibility
for their lousy tastes and mistakes.
When I was employed as a photo retoucher, I was often involved in the
alteration of reality for the noble purpose of increasing cigarette sales.
Not once did I expect or desire to see "produced by Steve Albini" on a
Marlboro ad, simply because it was this, and not some poor other sap, who
toned down the excessive lipgloss on Darryl's pout or removed the unfortunate
sarcoma from his forehead. I apply the same logic to my current occupation.
Often these clients disregard my wishes and publicize the fact that I
worked on their records. Oh, man. Today, they get their just desserts.
I will make little comment about the actual music on any of these records
(figuring everybody has formed an opinion already or couldn't care less), and
will say nothing except "Bless you" about those who have respected my
A word about my fees: I charge whatever the hell I feel like at the
moment, based on the client's ability to pay, how nice the band members are,
the size and directly-proportional gullibility of the record label, and
whether or not they got the rock. For example, Slint or Mudhead I would lend
money to. The Didjits or Fugazi I would do for free. Shadowy Men on a
Shadowy Planet and Jesus Lizard would pay beans. Most everybody else pays
$150 -- $450 a day, except that anybody on a major label gets fucked whole-
dong outright, figuring that they're never going to get paid anyway, unless
it's somebody like Ministry or Depeche Mode or Guns 'n Roses or Bullet La
Volta who suck so wildly that I wouldn't endure them for a fortune.
The straight skinny from an eyewitness:

The Pixies "Surfer Rosa" LP: A patchwork pinch loaf from a band who a their
top dollar best are blandly entertaining college rock. Their willingness to
be "guided" by their manager, their record company and their producers is
unparalleled. Never have I seen four cows more anxious to be led around by
their nose rings.
Except that I got to rewrite their songs with a razorblade, thought the
drums sounded nice, and managed to get Nate the Impaler on the LP as a cameo,
I remember nothing about this album, although I thought it was pretty good at
the time. During the recording, a sibling of the sexual partner of a Pixie
was lounging around making little fuck me noises, so I took her home and got
stiffed. Had to retreat to Byron's "den of satisfaction" and run a batch off
by hand. I seem to remember that their Filipino guitar player was pro-Marcos,
but I could be wrong. The album took about a week maybe two all tolled. Fee:
I later recorded a single track with them for a label-stroke compilation
album. The band had been getting the Big High Building "pampered performer"
treatment for a couple of years by then and were consequently bored and dour.
It took a couple of hours after dinner one night. Fee: $4,000. About a year
later, Bob Krasnow, the geeb at Elektra's Big High Building who fathered this
dumb idea sent me a truly revolting nickel-and-gold Omega wristwatch (the kind
Record Producers wear), with tacky Biz inscription and tacky presentation
case. As soon as somebody at the pool room offers me what it's worth, I'm
gonna have a hell of a nice dinner.

The Wedding Present "Brassneck" single: I was told they wanted to record three
songs, we ended up recording six, the most embarrassing of which is an as-yet-
unreleased adenoidal rendition of Penetration's "Don't Dictate." I should say
right out that the band are truly swell guys. Nice enough to go our with your
sister and everything, but Jesus, are they vulnerable.
They started out like any independent band, and now are in the unenviable
position of trying to operate like one while unquestionably in the jaws of a
Big High Building-type record company. These poor guys are under the delusion
that the staff of RCA actually gives a shit about whether they draw breath or
not. They sweat their tours out in a tiny rented van, pinching every penny,
lost in the assumption that the label dorks back in the Big High Building
"feel" for them in some way.
Meanwhile, I'm chatski on the cellular phone in the limo, keeping my
appointment with the club car of a Britrail, where I'll be treated to a
fucking filet on my way to my private room in the four star Hotel Picadilly in
Manchester (where the three telephones and electric towel warmer are an
ergonomic distance away from the toilet, but the closed-circuit porn movies
have the penetrations and cum shots excised.) "Not to worry," the grand dork
says, snapping the Amex down on whatever Formica is handy, "it's recoupable."
It took about four days. Fee: $9,500 plus "niceties."
The band recorded three songs in Chicago during a break in their US tour,
and while the music was otherwise a big improvement over the songs recorded
for "Brassneck," I have to report that they also did a version of a Steve
Harley song called "Make Me Smile." Supposedly this was a smash hit in the
Bad Music Era across the pond, but back in Montana I only knew one guy who
ever listened to Steve Harley. He was a Sparks fan and he later died of a
brain tumor. I'm not going to risk it myself. Fee: $4,260.

The Breeders "Pod" LP: For reasons too subtle to describe accurately [boing!
-- Hat Ed.], I really enjoyed going to Scotland and working on this. The
actual record is nothing special, of course, but I have a much deeper
understanding of the twin phenomena of synchronous menses and breast swelling
than I previously would have dreamed.
The only chafingly unpleasant thing about the experience was an
unbearable shithead gopher who loitered around the studio during those hours
when he wasn't actually engaged in plugging the guitar player (the only
function he truly served). Josephine, the bass player, looks quite a bit like
an emu, except that her hair is thinner. The studio owner had a pathological
fear of raw eggs, and entertained us with stories about the ex-Bay City Roller
he buys beef from. His wife, a voluptuous, once-attractive singer, would
occasionally strip down to her frillies at the bountiful dinner table.
I pounded everybody through the album in about a week, but the label
insisted that we stay at the studio and dream up another three weeks of work
for me to do. The drummer accepted any excuse to go across the road to the
pub and get stupid drunk, and finished one evening dancing in the arms of a
Freemason transvestite named "Dora" (John). On the last night in Scotland,
the drummer went to a meeting of The Angler's Club, and didn't return until
well after closing time. Presented to the front door by two Anglers, each
holding an elbow (the little drummer's legs had failed hours earlier), Shannon
was completely blackened with soot from the fire, except for bright blue rings
drawn with pool table chalk around nose and chin. Anglers, I swear!
The well-plugged guitar player (noted above) tipped me to a bit of Boston
gossip. It seems that Suzy Rust has been getting some social mileage out of a
rumor that she and I are well-acquainted with the contours of each other's
nakedness, and once traded orgasms in the growler at Chet's. Let me make one
thing perfectly clear: I have never been in the toilet at Chet's. Fee:

Tad "Salt Lick" EP: There has been debate in some quarters about the validity
of the whole Tad thing. Such talk comes from mouths unassociated with either
ears or brains. That Tad now introduces himself as "Tiny" whenever he gets a
chance is only further evidence of apparent genius. His first words after
stepping off the plane and enveloping my forequarter with a handshake however,
were, "Say, do you know where we can get any pot?" Fortunately, a terrible
band of my acquaintance was recording in the studio upstairs from us, with a
singer known to travel with commercial quantities. "I'm not carrying that
much pot nowadays," said the singer, his expression inverting. "I'm tired of
getting arrested all the time." Tad was not a happy Tad that weekend. Fee:

Poster Children "Flower Power" LP: They had a really fruity drummer for a
while, but I think he died of the syph. This one took two days. Fee: $300.
Daisy Chain Reaction LP: Their current drummer, Crazy Bob, does
occasionally scream "Hey, fuck me in the ass Steve, right here, right now!"
from across a crowded room at me, but somehow that isn't as irritating as
wearing a beret and scarf simultaneously. While recording their second
record, Crazy Bob got to meet Aerosmith, whose drummer shared this joke with
him: How do you get a nun pregnant? -- Fuck her. I laughed. Fee: $2,400.

Bitch Magnet "Star Booty" EP: Listen, all I did was help three college bozos
remix some sorry class-project recordings, and all of a sudden, Ding! I'm
their "producer." Listening to this poor wittle wecord is about the dumbest
thing you can do with it, especially if you're short on dinnerware. I did
work on an actual record of theirs later, and it wasn't unpleasant, but
Orestes "Toast" Delatorre, their drummer and interesting member, has left the
band to pursue dog grooming in Alaska or someplace, so who really cares. That
B'gnet routinely fires Jon Fine (token hebe) immediately after each recording
session is testament to his personality. Fee: $100, I think.

Jesus Lizard "Pure" EP: Recorded before the band existed, and therefore
neither representative nor any good. They recorded with a drum machine,
against all advice, instead of waiting for their excellent actual drummer (a
sort of tragic genius) to materialize. A shame, considering how tremendous a
band they've become. This record is a blight on a soon-to-be-enormously-
significant career. Bands have overcome more shabby beginnings, but not many.
The only one of their three records that is not absolutely stellar, but boy is
it lunar. Fee: about a buck, I think.

Bastro "Rode Hard And Put Up Wet" LP: See previous review. In my opinion, a
Zoviet France tattoo is stupid even when compared to genital piercing.

Whitehouse "Thank Your Lucky Stars" 45 and LP: William Bennett can
effortlessly play almost any Yes song you could be pained to mention on
Spanish guitar. I shit you not. Each of the songs Whitehouse recorded was
structurally mapped by a famous heavy metal song. So much so, in fact, that
all Bennett used as a headphone cue was a cassette recording of whichever
Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden or Deep Purple song the track was based on. Tidbit
-- three guesses which later-famous synthesizer guy that is on the back of
that Prag Vec record you haven't listened to since 1980. Ding! Give that man
a banana. Fee: $600.

Membranes "Kiss Ass Godhead" LP: I did not produce this record, despite what
it says on the jacket. I worked on a couple of songs in Chicago, and helped
them mix a few more songs in Leeds, but I no more "produced" it than did I
reach into my butt crack and discover it. (Speaking of which, I have a good
friend and billiard associate named Jon Spiegel whose magic act involves the
disappearance of a volunteer's hankie and the subsequent appearance from
between his own magnificent butt cheeks. It's a real PTA pleaser.) Neither
Homestead nor Glass, the Membranes' two labels, ever paid me. John Robb is a
stand up fellow, but he has lousy business associates, and talks like a
Ferriner. Fee: Still nothing in the mailbox, Seymour -- you lying fuck.

Gore "Wrede" LP: The title is a Dutch pun combining the words "cruelty" and
"peace." Oh you guys, you crack me up. This is a double album, made up of
four monolithic instrumentals, the longest of which clocks in at nearly half
an hour. I arrived after the band had spent three weeks recording, so there
was basically nothing for me to do except oversee overdubs and mix one song.
And take sauna baths. And eat like a pig. My favorite victual in Dykenland
is a peppered raw beef called "filet American." Must be another Dutch pun. I
also learned to love Vlokken, a chocolate shred that is eaten on toast.
I met a writer for the Dutch music magazine Oor (Ear), who always wore a
glove on his right hand, which was always balled-up in a fist. I found out
why when the conversation turned to fireworks, and he demonstrated (by
sticking a thumbtack in it) that his hand was wooden. He had blown it off
with fireworks as a boy. He asked me why Americans have such a low opinion of
the Dutch. I told him that Americans seldom even thought of the Dutch, except
for their elm disease, which we thought highly of. He gave as evidence the
expressions "being in Dutch," "Dutch courage," and worst of all, "Dutch treat
-- why that's no treat of all!" I told him that they were all puns.
The other engineer on the record was Theo Van Eenbergen, a swell guy who
now handles live sound for Henry Rollins, a fate I wouldn't wish on a dog I
didn't like. Theo told me about the pot farm he used to live on. Sometimes
he and his friends would run naked through the plants and collect the resins
from their skin to smoke like hashish. Neat.
Things I now know how to say in Dutch: "Zet je koptelefoon op, mietje,
voor ik je tegens jehersens knal." ("Put your headphones on, you little
faggot, or I'll come out and crush your brains.") "Vall kapot! Late we
eten." ("Fuck it, this is a disaster! Let's eat.") I also learned why you
should never ask a Dutch guitar player to hand you his "pick." Fee: $1,200.

Head Of David "Dustbowl" LP: The original artwork for this album said
"Dustbowel," which I quite liked, even when I found out it was a mistake. My
involvement here was limited to remixing a record that was fine before I
touched it and got no better for the effort. I also had to endure the
presence of Justin Pile, HOD's measly drummer, who spent long hours bemoaning
the state of his hemorrhoids, playing with his dreadlocks and eating greasy
vegetarian food (the better to fart you with, grandma) -- the turd. Fee:
about $500, I think.
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> Teenager of the Year <

South Sandwich Islands
4204 Posts

Posted - 01/30/2006 :  16:19:50  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks for the inspiration. Now I must unearth my stack of Forced Exposures to restudy all the Albini articles, such as his paean to Naked Raygun (notably Jeff Pezzati's sister) and his review of Pure Magazine.
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= Wannabe Volunteer =

15297 Posts

Posted - 01/30/2006 :  16:29:35  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
wow, he sounds like even more of an a-hole than i originally imagined
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> Teenager of the Year <

South Sandwich Islands
4204 Posts

Posted - 01/30/2006 :  16:37:50  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
That's why it's such good readin'.
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* Dog in the Sand *

1688 Posts

Posted - 02/01/2006 :  12:17:16  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Well after all floop was right. Albini is an asshole.

Floop, I expect you invite me for dinner now.

I will show you fear in a handful of dust
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= Wannabe Volunteer =

15297 Posts

Posted - 02/01/2006 :  13:41:23  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
do you like quesadillas?
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= Cult of Ray =

908 Posts

Posted - 02/04/2006 :  10:37:13  Show Profile  Visit matto's Homepage  Reply with Quote

The Problem With Music
by Steve Albini

Whenever I talk to a band who are about to sign with a major label, I always end up thinking of them in a particular context. I imagine a trench, about four feet wide and five feet deep, maybe sixty yards long, filled with runny, decaying shit. I imagine these people, some of them good friends, some of them barely acquaintances, at one end of this trench. I also imagine a faceless industry lackey at the other end holding a fountain pen and a contract waiting to be signed. Nobody can see what's printed on the contract. It's too far away, and besides, the shit stench is making everybody's eyes water. The lackey shouts to everybody that the first one to swim the trench gets to sign the contract. Everybody dives in the trench and they struggle furiously to get to the other end. Two people arrive simultaneously and begin wrestling furiously, clawing each other and dunking each other under the shit. Eventually, one of them capitulates, and there's only one contestant left. He reaches for the pen, but the Lackey says "Actually, I think you need a little more development. Swim again, please. Backstroke". And he does of course.

Every major label involved in the hunt for new bands now has on staff a high-profile point man, an "A & R" rep who can present a comfortable face to any prospective band. The initials stand for "Artist and Repertoire." because historically, the A & R staff would select artists to record music that they had also selected, out of an available pool of each. This is still the case, though not openly. These guys are universally young [about the same age as the bands being wooed], and nowadays they always have some obvious underground rock credibility flag they can wave.

Lyle Preslar, former guitarist for Minor Threat, is one of them. Terry Tolkin, former NY independent booking agent and assistant manager at Touch and Go is one of them. Al Smith, former soundman at CBGB is one of them. Mike Gitter, former editor of XXX fanzine and contributor to Rip, Kerrang and other lowbrow rags is one of them. Many of the annoying turds who used to staff college radio stations are in their ranks as well. There are several reasons A & R scouts are always young. The explanation usually copped-to is that the scout will be "hip to the current musical "scene." A more important reason is that the bands will intuitively trust someone they think is a peer, and who speaks fondly of the same formative rock and roll experiences. The A & R person is the first person to make contact with the band, and as such is the first person to promise them the moon. Who better to promise them the moon than an idealistic young turk who expects to be calling the shots in a few years, and who has had no previous experience with a big record company. Hell, he's as naive as the band he's duping. When he tells them no one will interfere in their creative process, he probably even believes it. When he sits down with the band for the first time, over a plate of angel hair pasta, he can tell them with all sincerity that when they sign with company X, they're really signing with him and he's on their side. Remember that great gig I saw you at in '85? Didn't we have a blast. By now all rock bands are wise enough to be suspicious of music industry scum. There is a pervasive caricature in popular culture of a portly, middle aged ex-hipster talking a mile-a-minute, using outdated jargon and calling everybody "baby." After meeting "their" A & R guy, the band will say to themselves and everyone else, "He's not like a record company guy at all! He's like one of us." And they will be right. That's one of the reasons he was hired.

These A & R guys are not allowed to write contracts. What they do is present the band with a letter of intent, or "deal memo," which loosely states some terms, and affirms that the band will sign with the label once a contract has been agreed on. The spookiest thing about this harmless sounding little memo, is that it is, for all legal purposes, a binding document. That is, once the band signs it, they are under obligation to conclude a deal with the label. If the label presents them with a contract that the band don't want to sign, all the label has to do is wait. There are a hundred other bands willing to sign the exact same contract, so the label is in a position of strength. These letters never have any terms of expiration, so the band remain bound by the deal memo until a contract is signed, no matter how long that takes. The band cannot sign to another laborer or even put out its own material unless they are released from their agreement, which never happens. Make no mistake about it: once a band has signed a letter of intent, they will either eventually sign a contract that suits the label or they will be destroyed.

One of my favorite bands was held hostage for the better part of two years by a slick young "He's not like a label guy at all," A & R rep, on the basis of such a deal memo. He had failed to come through on any of his promises [something he did with similar effect to another well-known band], and so the band wanted out. Another label expressed interest, but when the A & R man was asked to release the band, he said he would need money or points, or possibly both, before he would consider it. The new label was afraid the price would be too dear, and they said no thanks. On the cusp of making their signature album, an excellent band, humiliated, broke up from the stress and the many months of inactivity. There's this band. They're pretty ordinary, but they're also pretty good, so they've attracted some attention. They're signed to a moderate-sized "independent" label owned by a distribution company, and they have another two albums owed to the label. They're a little ambitious. They'd like to get signed by a major label so they can have some security you know, get some good equipment, tour in a proper tour bus -- nothing fancy, just a little reward for all the hard work. To that end, they got a manager. He knows some of the label guys, and he can shop their next project to all the right people. He takes his cut, sure, but it's only 15%, and if he can get them signed then it's money well spent. Anyways, it doesn't cost them anything if it doesn't work. 15% of nothing isn't much! One day an A & R scout calls them, says he's 'been following them for a while now, and when their manager mentioned them to him, it just "clicked." Would they like to meet with him about the possibility of working out a deal with his label? Wow. Big Break time. They meet the guy, and y'know what -- he's not what they expected from a label guy. He's young and dresses pretty much like the band does. He knows all their favorite bands. He's like one of them. He tells them he wants to go to bat for them, to try to get them everything they want. He says anything is possible with the right attitude.

They conclude the evening by taking home a copy of a deal memo they wrote out and signed on the spot. The A & R guy was full of great ideas, even talked about using a name producer. Butch Vig is out of the question-he wants 100 g's and three points, but they can get Don Fleming for $30,000 plus three points. Even that's a little steep, so maybe they'll go with that guy who used to be in David Letterman's band. He only wants three points. Or they can have just anybody record it (like Warton Tiers, maybe-- cost you 5 or 7 grand] and have Andy Wallace remix it for 4 grand a track plus 2 points. It was a lot to think about. Well, they like this guy and they trust him. Besides, they already signed the deal memo. He must have been serious about wanting them to sign. They break the news to their current label, and the label manager says he wants them to succeed, so they have his blessing. He will need to be compensated, of course, for the remaining albums left on their contract, but he'll work it out with the label himself.

Sub Pop made millions from selling off Nirvana, and Twin Tone hasn't done bad either: 50 grand for the Babes and 60 grand for the Poster Children-- without having to sell a single additional record. It'll be something modest. The new label doesn't mind, so long as it's recoupable out of royalties. Well, they get the final contract, and it's not quite what they expected. They figure it's better to be safe than sorry and they turn it over to a lawyer--one who says he's experienced in entertainment law and he hammers out a few bugs. They're still not sure about it, but the lawyer says he's seen a lot of contracts, and theirs is pretty good. They'll be great royalty: 13% [less a 1O% packaging deduction]. Wasn't it Buffalo Tom that were only getting 12% less 10? Whatever. The old label only wants 50 grand, an no points. Hell, Sub Pop got 3 points when they let Nirvana go. They're signed for four years, with options on each year, for a total of over a million dollars! That's a lot of money in any man's English. The first year's advance alone is $250,000. Just think about it, a quarter million, just for being in a rock band! Their manager thinks it's a great deal, especially the large advance. Besides, he knows a publishing company that will take the band on if they get signed, and even give them an advance of 20 grand, so they'll be making that money too. The manager says publishing is pretty mysterious, and nobody really knows where all the money comes from, but the lawyer can look that contract over too. Hell, it's free money. Their booking agent is excited about the band signing to a major. He says they can maybe average $1,000 or $2,000 a night from now on. That's enough to justify a five week tour, and with tour support, they can use a proper crew, buy some good equipment and even get a tour bus! Buses are pretty expensive, but if you figure in the price of a hotel room for everybody In the band and crew, they're actually about the same cost. Some bands like Therapy? and Sloan and Stereolab use buses on their tours even when they're getting paid only a couple hundred bucks a night, and this tour should earn at least a grand or two every night. It'll be worth it. The band will be more comfortable and will play better.

The agent says a band on a major label can get a merchandising company to pay them an advance on T-shirt sales! ridiculous! There's a gold mine here! The lawyer Should look over the merchandising contract, just to be safe. They get drunk at the signing party. Polaroids are taken and everybody looks thrilled. The label picked them up in a limo. They decided to go with the producer who used to be in Letterman's band. He had these technicians come in and tune the drums for them and tweak their amps and guitars. He had a guy bring in a slew of expensive old "vintage" microphones. Boy, were they "warm." He even had a guy come in and check the phase of all the equipment in the control room! Boy, was he professional. He used a bunch of equipment on them and by the end of it, they all agreed that it sounded very "punchy," yet "warm." All that hard work paid off. With the help of a video, the album went like hotcakes! They sold a quarter million copies! Here is the math that will explain just how fucked they are: These figures are representative of amounts that appear in record contracts daily. There's no need to skew the figures to make the scenario look bad, since real-life examples more than abound. income is bold and underlined, expenses are not.

Advance: $ 250,000
Manager's cut: $ 37,500
Legal fees: $ 10,000
Recording Budget: $ 150,000
Producer's advance: $ 50,000
Studio fee: $ 52,500
Drum Amp, Mic and Phase "Doctors": $ 3,000
Recording tape: $ 8,000
Equipment rental: $ 5,000
Cartage and Transportation: $ 5,000
Lodgings while in studio: $ 10,000
Catering: $ 3,000
Mastering: $ 10,000
Tape copies, reference CDs, shipping tapes, misc. expenses: $ 2,000
Video budget: $ 30,000
Cameras: $ 8,000
Crew: $ 5,000
Processing and transfers: $ 3,000
Off-line: $ 2,000
On-line editing: $ 3,000
Catering: $ 1,000
Stage and construction: $ 3,000
Copies, couriers, transportation: $ 2,000
Director's fee: $ 3,000
Album Artwork: $ 5,000
Promotional photo shoot and duplication: $ 2,000
Band fund: $ 15,000
New fancy professional drum kit: $ 5,000
New fancy professional guitars [2]: $ 3,000
New fancy professional guitar amp rigs [2]: $ 4,000
New fancy potato-shaped bass guitar: $ 1,000
New fancy rack of lights bass amp: $ 1,000
Rehearsal space rental: $ 500
Big blowout party for their friends: $ 500
Tour expense [5 weeks]: $ 50,875
Bus: $ 25,000
Crew [3]: $ 7,500
Food and per diems: $ 7,875
Fuel: $ 3,000
Consumable supplies: $ 3,500
Wardrobe: $ 1,000
Promotion: $ 3,000
Tour gross income: $ 50,000
Agent's cut: $ 7,500
Manager's cut: $ 7,500
Merchandising advance: $ 20,000
Manager's cut: $ 3,000
Lawyer's fee: $ 1,000
Publishing advance: $ 20,000
Manager's cut: $ 3,000
Lawyer's fee: $ 1,000
Record sales: 250,000 @ $12 =
Gross retail revenue Royalty: [13% of 90% of retail]:
$ 351,000
Less advance: $ 250,000
Producer's points: [3% less $50,000 advance]:
$ 40,000
Promotional budget: $ 25,000
Recoupable buyout from previous label: $ 50,000
Net royalty: $ -14,000
Record company income:

Record wholesale price: $6.50 x 250,000 =
$1,625,000 gross income
Artist Royalties: $ 351,000
Deficit from royalties: $ 14,000
Manufacturing, packaging and distribution: @ $2.20 per record: $ 550,000
Gross profit: $ 7l0,000
The Balance Sheet: This is how much each player got paid at the end of the game.

Record company: $ 710,000
Producer: $ 90,000
Manager: $ 51,000
Studio: $ 52,500
Previous label: $ 50,000
Agent: $ 7,500
Lawyer: $ 12,000
Band member net income each: $ 4,031.25

The band is now 1/4 of the way through its contract, has made the music industry more than 3 million dollars richer, but is in the hole $14,000 on royalties. The band members have each earned about 1/3 as much as they would working at a 7-11, but they got to ride in a tour bus for a month. The next album will be about the same, except that the record company will insist they spend more time and money on it. Since the previous one never "recouped," the band will have no leverage, and will oblige. The next tour will be about the same, except the merchandising advance will have already been paid, and the band, strangely enough, won't have earned any royalties from their T-shirts yet. Maybe the T-shirt guys have figured out how to count money like record company guys. Some of your friends are probably already this fucked.

Steve Albini is an independent and corporate rock record producer most widely known for having produced Nirvana's "In Utero".
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= Cult of Ray =

908 Posts

Posted - 02/04/2006 :  10:39:16  Show Profile  Visit matto's Homepage  Reply with Quote

January 28

Three Pandering Sluts and Their Music-Press Stooge

Bill Wyman:

The opening paragraph of your Year-in-rock recap [Hitsville, January 7] is one of the most brilliant bits of ass-forward thought I've seen in years. If I read your heavily parenthetical English correctly, you are making the case that Liz Phair, Urge Overkill and the Smashing Pumpkins are somehow unique in rock music because they are brazenly trying to sell records. Genius.

You also intimate that anyone having a gripe about these artists' calculated and overbearing hype barrage is being merely parochial or petty. You dismiss this sort of discussion as "bullshit." Since I like using words like "bullshit," and I am one of the people who sees nothing of value in any of these three artists, I will gladly adopt the term as shorthand for the position you argue against.

In your rush to pat these three pandering sluts on the heinie, you miss what has been obvious to the "bullshit" crowd all along: These are not "alternative" artists any more than their historical precursors. They are by, of and for the mainstream. Liz Phair is Rickie Lee Jones (more talked about than heard, a persona completely unrooted in substance, and a fucking chore to listen to), Smashing Pumpkins are REO Speedwagon (stylistically appropriate for the current college party scene, but ultimately insignificant) and Urge Overkill are Oingo Boingo (Weiners in suits playing frat party rock, trying to tap a goofy trend that doesn't even exist). You only think they are noteworthy now because some paid publicist has told you they are, and you, fulfilling your obligation as part of the publicity engine that drives the music industry, spurt about them on cue.

You attempt to validate your lionizing these frauds by referring to other music critics, after owning up to the reality that these artists don't get much respect from anybody else. In their day, their precursors were considered (by tools like you and those you quote) to be the nuts. That nobody gives a shit about them now is evidence that their appeal was temporal, transitory and superficial, and further evidence that tools like you (and them) don't know shit from fat meat.

Watching the three artists you moo about prostrate themselves before the altar of publicity these last 12 months has been a source of unrivaled hilarity here in the "bullshit" camp, and seeing them sink into the obscurity they have earned by blowing their promo wads will be equally satisfying.

The "bullshit" characterization concluded your argument that the music scene is tiny, and the perspectives of other artists, independent record companies, fans and the like are too insignificant to warrant serious consideration. Look at the shoes you're standing in, big nuts. Music press stooges like you tend to believe and repeat what other music press stooges write, reinforcing each other's misconceptions as though the tiny little world you guys live in (imagine a world so small!) actually means something to us on the outside.

Out here in the world, we have to pay for our records, and we get taken advantage of by the music industry, using stooges like you to manipulate us. We harbor a notion of music as a thing of value, and methodology as an equal, if not supreme component of an artist's aesthetic. You don't "get" it because you're supported by an industry that gains nothing when artists exist happily outside it, or when people buy records they like rather than the ones they're told to.

Though you wave your boob flag proudly throughout the rest of the piece, you did make one reasoned and intelligent statement. You stated your disapproval of those who would snicker at Liz Phair's personal life in lieu of actually discussing her merits as an artist and her album as a work. Considering how easy a target Phair's music is, it is a shame that some of her critics have nullified the discussion by using the leering mode you refer to. In truth, she and her album are probably the least offensive of the three you focused on in your column, which may explain why you think she is any good.

Artists who survive on hype are often critic's pets. They don't, however, make timeless, classic music that survives trends and inspires generations of fans and other artists. There are artists in Chicago doing just that, but you don't write about them. You save your zeal instead for this year's promo fixtures. Shame on your lazy head. Clip your year-end column and put it away for ten years. See if you don't feel like an idiot when you reread it.

Fuck you,

Steve Albini

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= Wannabe Volunteer =

15297 Posts

Posted - 02/04/2006 :  11:19:10  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
he brings up some great points, for an a-hole
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= Cult of Ray =

908 Posts

Posted - 02/04/2006 :  12:38:38  Show Profile  Visit matto's Homepage  Reply with Quote
only the a-hole knows!
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* Dog in the Sand *

1484 Posts

Posted - 02/04/2006 :  14:16:57  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
A bit harsh but yes he do.
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Visiting Sasquatch
= Cult of Ray =

451 Posts

Posted - 02/06/2006 :  11:51:14  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Im not sure when this interview took place, (I assume its for the TK album), but it seems Steve Albini didn't have too bad of a time with the Breeders...I mean, if he doesnt like it when the artist or label give him producing credit, (as if they were advertising the fact he produced the album as a selling point), why would he give interviews to journalists with said artists???

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= Wannabe Volunteer =

15297 Posts

Posted - 02/06/2006 :  11:53:12  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Visiting Sasquatch

Im not sure when this interview took place, (I assume its for the TK album), but it seems Steve Albini didn't have too bad of a time with the Breeders...I mean, if he doesnt like it when the artist or label give him producing credit, (as if they were advertising the fact he produced the album as a selling point), why would he give interviews to journalists with said artists???


cuz he's an a-hole?
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- A 'Fifth' Catholic -

11546 Posts

Posted - 02/07/2006 :  05:52:15  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Actually, I didn't know Albini produced Title TK.

pas de dutchie!
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- Mr. Setlists -

1728 Posts

Posted - 02/07/2006 :  17:48:33  Show Profile  Visit TheCroutonFuton's Homepage  Reply with Quote
"As an engineer, I'm trying to hit a target. A target that is defined by the wishes of the people I'm working for. The singer wants his vocals louder, the other band members don't, I don't mind either way. I let them come to a consensus, show them some options, and then they decide. The guitar player wants his sound to be thicker, the bass player thinks it's too muddy, I don't mind either way. I let them come to a consensus... you get the idea.

I have to decipher the necessary steps based on my understanding of the band's expectations. It has literally nothing to do with what my preferences are. I have made consistently better records since I long ago stopped trying to make them to suit me. It should have been no surprise (but it occasionally has been) that the band know best what they want their own music to comprise."

(His username is "Electrical")

It seems like, atleast now, he doesn't like putting his personal preferences out on the table AT ALL.

Animals think...They're pretty smart!
Shit on the ground...See in the dark!

Edited by - TheCroutonFuton on 02/07/2006 17:53:32
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- FB Fan -

12 Posts

Posted - 03/15/2006 :  20:26:20  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Yes, Albini did say nasty things about the Pixies and Surfer Rosa. It always seemed to me it was just typical Albini, trying to get a rise out of people.

In the big Spin article that ran as the reunion tour was starting, Albini is quoted as saying he basically did say those things to ruffle some feathers, and that he has regretted it ever since. He said they were all great to work with, and he does like Surfer Rosa.

There was a link here on the forum long ago that had a scan of the Spin article...well worth a read if it's still out there in cyberspace.
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illusion dog
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39 Posts

Posted - 03/17/2006 :  16:26:06  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Here's a 139MB lecture (quicktime .mov) given by Albini that's worth a look.
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Visiting Sasquatch
= Cult of Ray =

451 Posts

Posted - 03/18/2006 :  16:35:22  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by illusion dog

Here's a 139MB lecture (quicktime .mov) given by Albini that's worth a look.

Albini: In terms of my own personal business practices, I charge as little as I can possibly afford. And the reason that I do that is that I feel better about making three records during a certain period of time and having all three of my clients be happy than I would about making one record during that same period of time, and having that client be happy. I feel more comfortable with the idea that I bargain than that I am in some way triumphing in a business relationship. I don't like negotiating, I think it's tacky. I think negotiating makes me look greedy and it makes my client look cheap, and I don't think either one of us is flattered by that. So I have a set fee for virtually everything that I do. The recording studio that I built is a wonderful recording studio and we lease it out at what I consider very very cheap rates. But everybody pays the same rate. There are no deals, there's no winking. Nobody gets special treatment, nobody get's, you know, industry discount or whatever. Everybody plays by the same rules. I don't use contracts. I don't have a lawyer...

Albini: I think it's vitally important that a band know how much money they are going to spend when they make a record. And having a conversation about money at the very beginning of the conversation of making a record is the first way to make sure that everyone is operating on an even playing field; make sure that everyone is comfortable with the money, and everything else is fine. Cause money is the only thing ultimately that anybody really cries about...

Question: What are some of your personal favorite recordings that you have engineered, and what makes them stand out from a multitude of others?

Albini: It's hard for me to seperate the recording sessions from the recordings. Like there are sessions that I've done that were really a blast. And I really like those sessions and that's what makes me nostalgic and fond of those records, whether the records are any good or not. But if I'm rating them purely on the sonics, I think...I was very fond of the records I did with the Jesus Lizard in a sense. They were a great band and they were playing really well and their recordings were very bare and I like the way those records came out. I did a record for the Pixies and then Kim Deal, the bass player from the Pixies, had started a band called the Breeders, and I did a record for the Breeders shortly thereafter. And the Pixies became really popular, and that baffled me 'cause I thought they were a trivial band. But I really liked the Breeders. I thought the Breeders were a really interesting, they were a unique band and I liked them alot. I liked the way their records came out. Kim carried on with the band for a while, then took a few years off then came back. In '97 or '98 she started work on another album and I got to work on that album and I like that album alot as well.

Some excerpts that I thought might be pertinent to this thread. It seems in this video that he contradicts some of his money politics from his statements he made back in '91. I have no idea when this video was made, but it's after he built his recording studio in '97, and after he recorded with the Breeders which according to him was around '98. Maybe his money politics have changed since '91, but I do appreciate the fact that it's in the independent band's best interest in the end. If you're interested in what his current fees are, he's posted them here. I assume he charges those rates no matter if you're a small band or big label.

Edited by - Visiting Sasquatch on 03/18/2006 16:40:14
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