Latest News

Nirvana share letter from Steve Albini outlining his approach to ‘In Utero’

May 9th, 2024

Nirvana‘s social media accounts have shared the four-page letter Steve Albini sent to them, proposing that he produce their landmark album ‘In Utero’.

Today (May 9), Nirvana’s X (formerly Twitter) account published the four-page proposal, in which Albini wrote of his approach and methodology to music and how he planned to handle the recording of ‘In Utero’.

The post comes after it was revealed yesterday (May 8) that Albini had died at the age of 61 due to a heart attack. The legendary producer and musician’s death was confirmed by his recording studio, Electronic Audio.

In Albini’s four-paged proposal, he famously declared that “if a record takes more than a week to make, somebody’s fucking up”.

“I think the very best thing you could do at this point is exactly what you are talking about doing: bang a record out in a couple of days, with high quality but minimal ‘production’ and no interference from the front office bulletheads,” he wrote. “If that is indeed what you want to do, I would love to be involved.”

 

“If, instead, you might find yourselves in the position of being temporarily indulged by the record company, only to have them yank the chain at some point (hassling you to rework songs/sequences/production, calling-in hired guns to ‘sweeten’ your record, turning the whole thing over to some remix jockey, whatever…) then you’re in for a bummer and I want no part of it.”

He continued: “I’m only interested in working on records that legitimately reflect the band’s own perception of their music and existence. If you will commit yourselves to that as a tenet of the recording methodology, then I will bust my ass for you. I’ll work circles around you.”

Albini wrote of his recording methodology: “I consider the band the most important thing, as the creative entity that spawned both the band’s personality and style and as the social entity that exists 24 hours out of each day. I do not consider it my place to tell you what to do or how to play. I’m quite willing to let my opinions be heard (if I think the band is making beautiful progress or a heaving mistake, I consider it part of my job to tell them) but if the band decides to pursue something, I’ll see that it gets done.”

Steve Albini in 2005. Credit: Paul Natkin/Getty

He then noted that he likes to “leave room for accidents and chaos”. “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.”

Albini also declined royalties for producing and mixing the album in his proposal, writing: “I do not want and will not take a royalty on any record I record. No points. Period. I think paying a royalty to a producer or engineer is ethically indefensible. The band write the songs. The band play the music. It’s the band’s fans who buy the records. The band is responsible for whether it’s a great record or a horrible record. Royalties belong to the band.”

“I would like to be paid like a plumber: I do the job and you pay me what it’s worth. The record company will expect me to ask for a point or a point and a half. If we assume three million sales, that works out to 400,00 dollars or so. There’s no fucking way I would ever take that much money. I wouldn’t be able to sleep.”

Albini fronted the likes of underground bands such as Shellac, Big Black, Rapeman and Flour. Besides ‘In Utero’, he was most well known for being the producer of major albums such as Pixies’ ‘Surfer Rosa’, PJ Harvey’s ‘Rid of Me’, Manic Street Preachers‘ ‘Journal For Plague Lovers’ and more.

Shellac recently announced ‘To All Trains’, their first album in 10 years which is set for release next week (May 17) and were preparing to embark on a tour.

Steve Albini performs with Shellac in 2022. Credit: Jim Bennett/WireImage

Speaking to NME last year, Albini shared that being forever associated with Nirvana due to his work on their 1993 final album ‘In Utero‘ was no albatross. “It’s totally normal, it’s perfectly reasonable,” the producer and audio engineer told NME. “If you had never heard of me before and someone is trying to introduce me to you, they are going to name the famous records that I worked on – and ‘In Utero’ is the most famous.”

Last year, Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic spoke to NME and recalled working with the producer and how the band landed on the post-‘Nevermind’ sound of the record. “Kurt was a fan of Albini,” he said. “I remember being in a tour van in 1989 and Kurt was listening to Pixies. He raised his finger and said, ‘This shall be our snare sound!’ He wanted to do it with Steve for a long time.”

Kurt Cobain had been a known admirer of Albini’s music before he worked with Nirvana, having been in attendance when his band Big Black played their last ever show in 1987. During the first session, he brought with him a piece of the guitar Albini had smashed during the gig.

Following the news of Steve Albini’s death, several musicians have paid tribute to the late musician, producer and engineer. You can read tributes from Jarvis Cocker, Pixies and more here.

This content was originally sourced and posted at NME »
Disclaimer/Note: TGM Radio’s latest news posts are a collection of curated and aggregated, fresh content from the best news sources across the globe.

Comments are closed.