"It always offended me when I was in the studio and the engineer or the assumed producer for the session would start bossing the band around. That always seemed like a horrible insult to me."
Steve Albini is a famous Alternative Rock musician and producer from Chicago. Some of the bands he's worked with include: Nirvana, The Pixies and The Breeders, Godspeed You Black Emperor, Helmet, Robert Plant, Fred Schneider, The Stooges, Mogwai, The Jesus Lizard, PJ Harvey, Manic Street Preachers, Joanna Newsom, Low, Cheap Trick and Slint.
If you'd look up Invisible Producer in the dictionary, Steve Albini would probably be the first guy to come to mind. His style has such hallmarks as recording live with minimal overdubbing, using microphone placement to get some harsh guitar and drum sounds, keeping the vocals low in the mix, and completely averting Executive Meddling: he prefers to not be credited (if the company insists, he prefers the term "recording engineer"), doesn't collect royalties and lets the artist/band make all the creative decisions. Due to his stereotypical association with producing critically acclaimed harsh albums, there's a degree of surprise whenever he works with more "mellow" artists like Joanna Newsom and Nina Nastasia.
Albini is also famous for having a big mouth, being very liberal with throwing insults and nastiness around (ask The Pixies, Liz Phair, Urge Overkill and The Smashing Pumpkins about it sometime), harsh criticism of the music industry's practices, and being a Luddite: he refuses to record in anything but analog and back in The Eighties he disparaged the CD as being "the rich man's eight-track tape".
As a musician, Albini plays guitar, bass, sings and programs drum machines. He was a member of the following bands:
- Big Black (1982-1987), with guitarist Santiago Durango and bassists Jeff Pezzati and his replacement Dave Riley. Technically a Post-hardcore/Noise Rock band, their use of a drum machine, distinctive "clanky" guitars and shouty, controversial lyrics made them a big influence on the Industrial Metal scene.
- Rapeman (1987-1989), another Post-hardcore/Noise Rock band, with David Wm. Sims and Rey Washam of Scratch Acid on bass and drums. Named after a manga called The Rapeman, predictably attracted more attention and controversy for their name than their music.
- Shellac (1992-present), a Noise Rock/Math Rock band with bassist Bob Weston and drummer Todd Trainer.
Steve Albini provides examples of:
- Caustic Critic
- Genre Adultery: What happens when he departs from his stereotypical production style and works with people like Joanna Newsom.
- Insistent Terminology: He dislikes being called a "record producer" and prefers being credited as a "recording engineer." This is because he wants bands to have as much creative control over their own music as possible, so he offers minimal input, which is different from most music producers.
- New Technology Is Evil
- Perishing Alt Rock Voice
- Signature Style: Live recording to analog, microphone placement, vocals low in the mix.