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“The Problem With Music”

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Steve Albini, the producer of Nirvana’s In Utero album, tells a tale of how a band can succeed only to fail. Well worth the read.

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.

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  • DT

    this is ancient. supposedly it was in MaximumRocknRoll # 133.

    And its much longer, going into real gory detail. search google for “The Problem With Music,” and you’ll find it.

    however, consider the source. Steve albini is just a curmudgeonly elitist asshole. I (as a computer-based engineer and bassist) think his mixing style’s kinda weak too. His drums are all he cares about – and they sounds awesome (and listening to his music, the same fact holds true), but the rest of the band can go fly a kite.

    The retail version of in utero was heavily remixed, so very few songs were his mix.

  • Steve Albini, ah good, he was a character out of the ‘pre-grunge’ scene of Seattle (see related posted article, “Oldies indie?…”). Good of him to stick to his guns, all us punx were saying just that 25 years ago. It is good of him to carry the word to more executive positions. Just for the hell of it if anything.


  • One second

    Very interesting but i am sure it is probably very acurate. Like monkeys jumoing through hoops.