« WTF with Marc Maron Podcast

Episode 650 - Steve Albini

2015-10-28 | 🔗
Steve Albini had his hands and fingers on the mixing board for some of the greatest albums ever, like Nirvana’s In Utero and the Pixies’ Surfer Rosa. But don’t call Steve a producer. He hates that. As Steve tells Marc, he sees himself as an audio engineer and a musician with his own bands, not as someone who should take credit for other people’s albums.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
The guy or I'd words through this: how are you what the fuckers, what the fuck buddies, what the fuck's there is, what the buccaneers What's happening, it's mark marin. This is deputy up my podcast. Thank you for listening. Welcome! Welcome too, new comers, who are here for this, if Albania episode trysting thing happened with the last episode errand james drop one from drop when design company. It seems that there is a tremendous amount of momentum and Feedback about that episode, there's something almost exciting. Me about the idea that that people may act we be getting sick of show business. Culturally. Perhaps we're starting to get sick, The exhausting desperation of show business. I look there
a lot of different versions, a show business. I believe I am operating in somewhat of a showbiz adjacent situation of my own making and I'm I'm happy with that, but after Certain point: there's an intense city to it all to all the air all the option, all the channels, all the streaming content, all that come Actually all the time when you turn it on moving billboard said actually seem do below urge televisions and enough themselves just a constant, sir, visual and mental rattling noise of hay over here, yet that that sort of the underlying pitch of all until now, yo ay, hey hey over here Let us be clear that that, through the undercurrent of all content, just to and an end what goes into getting people to watch it. the body of the oau over here over you're, just watches watches you watch is just right:
for a minute. every minute come on. Stay here for a minute people. peering about a different medium different zone. Different mode design, it was interesting to me, was exciting to me to talk to a guy that that together like dad and creates things in and maybe that's direction. I gotta go into a little more I've always wanted to. But gotta go out of the box. I gotta go out of my box grandma lugging. This I made I made paying it so fucking, come on just lock, look at it tonight, on NBC, come on you fuck about what we did a very good luck tonight on she ay ay, ay, ay ay amazon work organisation. I gotta value beta, wait, wait, wait, CBS,
please look at this thing, hulu come on. Look at LA la. I see all of em I think, I'm being negative. I just think it very difficult to hold people's attention. I think you should necessarily play that. Oh hey In the James Taylor episode, there was a gunshot at the end and a lot of you seemed concerned whitewash should be when you gunshot either recorded or not. And you wanted some closure on that. There's been met, people asking what did you find out what the gunshot was. short answer. No, I did not did I investigate what it might be. I did not in my free out about it now really gunshots happen around here. occasionally and you just help their salvatore and not pointed at any body
so night. I have no idea. Did it? Definitely satellite gunshot, but you never. Maybe it was someone's birthday, so I So I know I don't know but everything cool sense. Okay, I hope that states your concerns our eye. What else. ah I just ship, my pants just coffee deco up just through that in. I don't do as much as I used to look it's coming. It's happening. It's happening we are moving towards a today's lauren clip, is actually pretty fascinating. Clip because it does it it. It helped me out. It got me some some closure. blue some honesty from Jim brewer. This was episode for thirty five of the show of deputy F and there he definitely seemed Have some info
my meeting with more michael's. We gave me just we'll, be clarity around that meeting with lorn and why things might have turned out the way they did assume a lot of you or are you are or upon the narrative, we're moving towards a worn michael's episodes there are many of you who have listened to me for years know is a is a pretty important thing to me. Those ye who are just tuning in for the albini, ah steve albini talk. I imagine, you've fast forward it already. So this is me talking to Jim brewer on episode for thirty five of this show you, for us and now as yet, as the news guy right and lorn sat me down and lawrence Let me down, and I I swear to god- here's how it went he went to. He goes to the gym worth it
king about using mark marin as are, are the update guy give thoughts on him. Success you what I said I went. Ah, ok, I think he'll be the best news guy, you ve ever had your life. I said data I said, but it need to know a lot. People have problems with him. I go he he, his people off, but nothing to do with me. I say if he's, if he's the news guy. I see he got a home run the ago. My best friends with them. Now do I do I do the guy now, however, the guy would be a monster news anchor. I really feel that way. Lauren is, I know, that's pretty much the feedback I get from everyone So did you did you me when I'm already now? I don't know he said this or use
this something about monkey. I feel like he has not. Even he had told me this. He said he he said to me, you sitting with you and I say well how to go. I should well he he everyone enjoys a monkey or certain until they throw the feces at you or or he said that no, I said that to him. He said: comedians are like monkeys, yes, I've ever had the monkeys. Make people laugh, and I said it was the throne, their wits, which you any aside with him. Oh yeah, salute online? You fuck fucking, and we now know sort of ghana. Not I swear to god night. That made me. Really like you, I swear to god and and then
How do you live near them obsessed with that meeting? You know I mean I talk about all the fuckin time, a mouse s without meeting with learn. He sat me down and he asked me about. You asked me about Tracy more lay out as we were there the same day and true, I said, Tracy is the most raw funny as human beings are ever met. My life off stage lorn, I don't think I've ever left so hard just off stay. I said I, I just listen to him rant and I just find myself. I feel like I'm looking at a richard pryor, but it's it's raw on stage is a different beast right off stage never sandy more fascinate, my life, there's no mark mark mare and for the appeal and I really guy he was really thinking about it, because I lawyer, because I thought I do in retrospect that he might have been. You know, trying to muscle norm into something or whatever, but because I didn't get it obviously right dine with norma. They were done. They were done here, see now
I can deal with that explanation. At least there was a reason I never will Jim brewer would be the key to. knocking the mystery, but there you go. There are a number of more Michael's conversations. I've had on the show is astounding: dig it I'd Steve Albanie coming up, how do I preface albinos? Albanie, Steve Albania's one, these guys he's a legend he's. A living myth in the I can roll arena he's a producer that days wary of calling himself a producer. He's a guitar player he's a fixture. in the world in mind, an important gear in the machinery of modern music. In my mind, though, very Humble gentlemen, intense, and I know a lot of you who who are deep music nerds. Have you have very specific expectations around?
what you want to hear from Albania had a good conversation with him and that obviously, some of the records that he may there your were profoundly important in my life pics he's nirvana, the breeders theirs and hundreds records, however resume this guy. but one of the most important things to me when I in college, I can't even put a date on this. it's gotta be the mid eighties and I'm thinkin he's probably in big black. Maybe I don't know But I know that I went to see Steve albanie at the at scour in Austin Massachusetts in kenmore square, I was going to be you, I'm thinking it's gotta, be eighty four may be eighty three, eighty four, I don't I'm being with anybody. I remembered going down there drinking, probably with somebody. I remember Steve Albania,
standing in the middle of that little stagey go down in the basement. You walk pats Mitch at the door with his with his weird grade to pay and is as voice bogs, yet a noise bags. he's a large man. You know you just read a story into that guy. He knew he had I always had a suit on work. he might have been a little connected body. Add the voice bags. I, though, in check I d and then down in the base, was where the rat was the real rock and roll club, low ceilings fuckin dirty the rat schuyler gone gone So I go to see how beanie and member him just plain that fuckin massive scale guitar sound, but the most important thing, about that night. In my mind, and I believe, It was at night things get a little blurry, you know as you get all, do you realize you're just a curator of misperceptions in altered memories, but went to that stephen. any show and then in the in the crowd. Moving through the crowd. Was this woman but
I didn't see her first, I saw was, is fantastic black mohawk and then just just as I thought, the black mohawk down the show Besides, I saw this intense round angry face and this stout kind of little tank. You know down to the docks to the doc martens and the black jeans, and I was like holy fuck Who is that and it's not you know I don't. I don't know that I had any game then, or certainly I had any real sort of coos. I I always you moved through the world with they're the same type. intensity. I have now we younger, which was probably even more disconcerting, and I just went up to and unlike who, are you? What is what what and her of more in it now in love with her almost like a media,
that steve Albanie show I'm gonna put it. I'm gonna put it in I'm gonna put it on natural, just remember, we walk home and she's kickin cans and you yeah just mia like this angry little art, woman girl. At the time she was gonna mass art She was telling me stories about iraq. They, like maybe your acts, are key boyfriend. I don't know who worked in yes, sort of large soft sculptures and they'd be up. Maybe she had some story about living out in a country in a trailer. Devious and weird. She was from new jersey and just full of this angry intensity. But yeah. She was a welder and I've told the story about you go and your house at first time, just completely enamoured with her and she had a sculpture She had done in metal
this emaciated metal female figure in the vagina, which has fallen nails and as like yeah right, I can handle this loved. Her still lover, sea or sometimes still do in the art but you know, has a life with a man. We all get old boy level off, but man that night, that steve Albini concert just seeing that black mohawk cannot cut through the crowd like like the thin of a shark ike wife whose can now did that she changed my life. So now. Let's go and talk to Steve Albini,
The one you want to wear cans are canyons those terms can't you call them cans. No, no one calls them cans. No one does now, of course, now come on. Now. No one says take five either. Nobody says radio guy, say cans well, music, eyes down, or I will Ok, all right, they weren't sunday, whether com headphones exactly right in in many, have learned how to. Just by being a recording engineer, yeah I've learned a few useful studio. Expressions in many languages, zia like why, in dutch, for example, here that you copy telephone up yeah, what do you mean to put your headphones on?
I hope, telephone, okay as the copies head and that's good, that these are cop telephone and you earned that from recording dutch guys yeah. Exactly to remember what dutch guys, I think it was the dutch heavy metal band gore. Oh yeah yeah! Is there a possibility? A guy? Ask you a couple questions right up front. Would you have been touring I met a girl and college you who it was very important man. I met her at the rat, yell lost and play their many times as you self though like would you have been touring as Steve albanians ain't gonna work. Eighty five non oda lack in eighty five, I would have been in big black, so was Because I remember I was like I was added Steve Albania show and I met this chick with a black mohawk, and you know in in the rest. Is history zanzibar right, yeah, yeah. So your member that I dont know I remember the chicken to blackmail, got it we're above their than there now the rat was a shithole
I mean it as a. It was one that it kind of typified the era of like punk venues where there were. There were sort of two kinds of punk venues: yeah there were places that were sort of of the community where you have guys that were in punk band yeah. That like coerced of a bar owner into letting them have a night, and then it sort of developed into a thing, a thing and it and gather momentum, and you had you had so you had clubs where the the punk bans were welcome right as the people that were running the scene worse or and then the other thing was that you had the shittiest bar in town where you could get away with stuff, yet so the shitty spar antonia ended up being a punk club. The placement yeah like a rat like the rat for exam, ramming pretty good examples that do that ran it had one I had one of those in the big hair the to pay. His name was mitch and wood. routinely just decide not. Pay, the band,
and he got into the office and it looked click the little boy. On his throat and there's no way you're getting the money they have they had like. answers. There was on weight room upstairs where the bouncers would all be like we're gets. You have these like. You know that like a yard wide meat heads, you know, standing on either side of him, while he's like sitting in the you know the sort of melted elephant of a dude sitting behind his desk, either It shall didn't do while those now, where you're getting the money, and then you just have to walk yeah what else you and what are you doing that guy? Like you you know you, you would offer you some pittance, like you know, like losing money but I'll give you gash money in solving like it was it was it in. I was kind of a routine scenario that never happened. Us have you got morocco, and not so much I think we have a kind of the luck of the drastic we we
even even in the eighties s, you could figure out how to schedule a tourist that you would hit a town on the night when people would be willing to go out in only, and so we struck in our tours in a way where he would play the bigger towns on the better nights and then the crappy or towns you'd play in midweek and a because a punk audience in a crappy town is gonna. Go out any knight of the week that a ban comes through because their ecstatic that someone's bothered right and they are here and there in our towns. Oh so you like, you could play in own the fat spot in the road in vienna, Kansas or indiana on a tuesday or wednesday, and you could expect us a sort of normal crowd, whereas if you're playing and friday is playing in chicago in the union, I have a lot of there's a lot of other options. For there for the entertainment dollar. It's it's gotta wilder man that whole that whole. Even all the cities that were music cities it all that scene is just sort of gone. Isn't it not at all now made its instrument, but, like you go to Boston,
The entire camera squares level, okay, well boston as a special case there. There was a monopolistic trawl of live music venues? What was the name? The company don law was that the name of the gunwale yeah yeah, the modern, monopolistic control of music venue, even the small ones, at basically every suitable room. I mean it's the same sort of thing that happened on a national scale, with queer earlier life notion in his leg serve taking over venues and just exerting airwaves or it can just be like society of club owners it won't allow anybody else, any independent people operating here tonight. I do what is it
is it in the world or in your mic leaf blower you've got leaf blower noise, yeah yeah; they they have a filter, for that. Does it just happen spontaneously now he's blowing out his pattern. Yeah yeah yeah he's the guy that suggested, I put it on the air light on the side of my garage. This will be my favorite part of the broadcast for sure I guess that is good. I interviewed for like an hour. No I'm sorry dude. I did just doing another one I'll be done like an hour now come do it if you want so is this:
iraq enough sure the fuck? So did you come from around here? Well in a circuitous way, my folks came from California, my dad went to caltech and when he finished his graduate work at caltech, where he started having kids, we lived in pasadena, it's right down the street and but I I was the last kid, and almost and very shortly after I was born. I think it was a less than a year old. We moved to washington d c, so I I remember nothing right how many kids are arthur. I have a brother Marty whose two years older sister Mona, whose one year older and that's it three and we moved to washington, d c and then in the middle. Can sixties. We moved back to santa Barbara I I remember some about sandbar brows there. For me, I was maybe six seven, eight years old, something like that and then we are five six point. Four
six, something like I remember some of that right and then we moved back to us they see area at my dad, worked an engineer in aeronautics and doing some defence department contracting so secret work that I can't talk about what- He didn't brings work on bright, but some of it was literally secrets like he worked on the titan three c missile and he worked on no shit. He work on a bunch of stuff for them. Star wars, really data great, and did he talking about that later? He can't really you couldn't. Wait, is well he's, he's dead now. But I couldn't really talk about it like you, specifically india, but it would The thing that was odd about my father was that he was an engineer, is brilliant, brilliant engineer and his. the thing that gave him the most satisfactorily. Your life was solving the hardest problem, so he wanted the hardest problem and he was eager to have the hardest right. So
thing about the whole star wars: technology was, it was, is essentially impossible right to do what what what was being postulated as easy and has been like that saving. That was the shield in space, where exact out, I was shooting a bullet with a bullet like that, shutting down the missile yet right that whole concept, nea was essentially impossible re but and as a result. It was like the hardest problem right, so my dad was like super eager to work on it right, so he he was spending all of his energy in this x like this, ultimately like completely futile. but it was very satisfying for him to be like. Well, that's gonna be right. Difficult right. I that's probably going to
for weeks and then be in bliss. Any amount but into it toward the end was life. He who worked for the department of the Interior working on the science of forest fires, which is impossibly complex, but in a very practical way you can. You can make pretty significant improvements in the way we we treat the forest and way we treat fire and it may not be specifically about fighting them, necessarily no managing the resource of the forest, so that people can use it and then it also doesn't become a threat to itself right. I mean there was a long history of preventing forest fires at all costs, and that was like a sort of policy. The smokey. The absolutely disastrous, because for fires are part of the life cycle of a forest right and then
it? You know mitigating the the the damage done by these catastrophic fires that were started because we had allowed so much fuel to build up by putting out all the fires. All the time here like that became a, the problem and then just understanding. The behavior of fire itself is where my father concentrated his or his efforts, and he was a. He was a renowned scientist in that regard. Very young science, there's still so much that there's a wee wee, no way less about fire than we thought we did in really I from the efforts of the people at the northern forest fire research laboratory. Yet why I e, I know that once it starts, you just did got awaited out. Sometimes I mean it's the thing that I like about my father dear and forest fires, that he took this incredibly complex problem, we have created practical tools that people in the field could like they could enter a few variables into a portable calculator, for example yeah and using a a a
program that would there was a reduction of all of this complex theory and then they could figure out how far ahead they had to go before they dug the firelight like that sort of, like very practical yadda. Very you know like oh well, houses doomed. Let's move on, I think I, like the right yeah, make those big decisions that once we lose out one. What does your training I left in so that working in the forest fire brought. Our family working forest fires brought are our family to Montana, and I did principal growing up in missoula month have no idea what that even looks like it's beautiful like if he is it. If you, if you picture like dodds plan for the, right, really: mountains and trees and yeah right, rolling grass and rivers and massive lakes and in a beautiful snow caps.
China has all of that likely to high desert s lush coniferous. For us, you have montana I mean when I was there sure I was into punk rock and it seemed like extraordinarily frustrating to be in right in place that has in its with really the characteristic is the the people in the natural beauty and what I wanted was I wanted, like dope, fiend sellers and, in a word I am worried that so I left to converse chicago to go to a school in nineteen. Eighty and so he like masood I've been in chicago ever since he went to high school Missouri. I went you went to high school in missoula. I went to college in chicago at northwestern university and studied what journalism So ok, your mozilla and wait. What was the moment where are you knew, there, was something bigger and more exciting out there. I
it's weird? Because I've had to recall this moment for interviews yeah, so it's now become crystalline in my memory or then let's go to a week or so before. Well, like my circle of friends- and I guess but we're all you know dorky into horror movies and in favour with the nerd crew. Yeah anti jock search super super dork sooner in the school newspaper I agree that colleagues I mean I was hated, physically attacked they very often what reason I was minded allowed mouth here, which is I mean, that's and say you are you're an aggressive, nerd, nea good get. I mean that I'm I'm recognised that as a character flaw and have a longer lottery and a sort of ameliorated, really the anger none of the being an ass like just,
it was really important that everybody in the room knew what I was thinking all the time like I got. I got that out of my system. When I was in high school, did you have to get beat up for it? No although when I was in college, I was still, thinking when I was in college- and I got into this thing where I am I really enjoyed taunting the fraternity, people and the like the fraternity system. I drew cartoons for the school newspaper in australia ridiculing and insulting and wet, but they threw fantastic these were bands would play in the bows was free and wags area, so everyone exploring, the fraternities as a kind of social resale right rank bright. You would go to the party. I will go there for our house, but if we just five us go where your insulating your crew glance at lady, I would go typically with a friend of mine in John bone, and then I had go to these parties, and it would be like that.
Where does enough funny clothing, and I can't remember what the precipitate incident was whether published some cart. and mocking the fraternity, gm or something my friend, John and I were at one of these rap parties and we were taking advantage of all the free beer in me and women and that sort of thing and that a kind of a ripple went through the all the greek educed bags in out like that albania guys here the do and then the thing they sort of started to congregate around the two of us and I dont know how did it in, like probably the only moment of judo in my entire life, but I managed to extricate myself from this closing circle of greeks and then all of us through my fur. and john out of the party as me, and I stood with the mob on the balcony shaking my fifth at that,
being a guy that we had just thrown out of the party. So that's like that. The only clever thing I've ever done in my life was everybody. Ok to John Mayer. I find this is an interesting. Almost not cowardly, but you know absolutely cowardly yeah. Absolutely I mean John take the hit and you know he forgave me. He understood the situation perfectly, but they were too fucking stupid to know the difference. I mean they didn't they they just wanted. You know it's typical, like right wing mob mentality. They just want someone to take the blame instantly and then they can forget about the you know. Whatever the underlying issue is, they can just move on, isn't interesting, how you see that stuff? Like you know in retrospect, now that we're older, you see that that it's all set up at such a young age, that you know the fraternity, the fraternal fraternity system is designed to the brotherhood of douche bag and will take care of each other throughout life, and you know whether its those specific douche bags, it's that whole
It doesn't matter that were wrong, we're together. Yes, your at mentality that- and we can win, didn't corp and like you here, you know that you hear that in sort of corporate motivational each and all that stuff. You hear that same sort of like group, identity nonsense the and it's all typically being fostered by an authority figure like from above like all of you, people who worry me right need to see yourselves as a team. Exactly it's a year there, your mozilla you're, just like what kind of what kind of music are you isn't into before the enlightenment? I didn't. I wasn't really not at all, wasn't significantly interested in music until I discovered the moans at the moment. Where were the touchstone for me right brother had left for college and he left behind his collection of records, which were typical, hard rock records of the year. I was cooper. The who liked at the right yet mean I mean that was the point
from a lizard. Listening to that stuff was formative. Yeah I mean my sister, my sister had like shit records, no, not a patch on my sister, I think she's, wonderful, woman and as very intelligent, elton John yeah good good like gordon lightfoot I figure a lot of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald or previous now, and all of that stuff has it's charm sure. But you know when you compare gordon lightfoot to Alice cooper yeah, you know Gordon gets a bloody nose, that's right, yeah and a hell of a chasm there. So How would you I'm fifty two I'll be fifty three and a couple days were missing Can I I'm fifty once we grub am even when we are grown up with that stuff? It was the kind old when we were in highly most of it. That's the weird thing, as I can't I can't think when we were in high school, so your your year ahead me. We, we saw the death of disco happen. We sought and then we saw a new aid happen and then punk just sort of got left out for where I was the thing. The thing that seem strange to me. If you look at that, there's a if you,
Just look at a time lawyer like from woodstock to the c b Jimmy ear. I was only like six or seven year you'd like a chinaman credible. It's true, I really thought about that and then, if you think I like but be from, you know from bill. Hayley too, woodstock is a living ten eleven year Yang, yeah and I've been flogging the same bullshit for thirty years now and I feel like an. I still feel contemporary. You know, which is absurd and it should be and should be imposed no, no, I don't I'm not gonna to does not flogging the same bullshit at some point but it is always peculiar to meet realise that rock n roll in earnest, like fifty seven in fifty somewhere. So right, rock round the clock a rocket eighty eight with which everyone you did a tribute, the beginning to end its so fucking young I got your its. I never really put it together like that, how much it just sort of blue Yeah talk to the like the aggressiveness of evolution,
in the early stages around from late fifties. You ve got and skilful in the uk, I like Rock'N'Roll, and you know, yeah rockabilly stuff in america, then mid sixties. You have the british explosion, then immediately followed by like the pop music side of that, like sort of melded in or dissolved into the psychedelic period, where you had like radical stuff happening, yeah, going into the seventies where you had like the prague stuff, which is also radical, a lot of it in Austria is but a lot of it still very mention of you, you and do it now not speak quickly. But I could not. There are fringe elements of progress that I've. I find fascinating like like the crowd rocks of can endanger yea craft all that stuff. All of that stuff is non organised, no crimson that has its moments and just the other day we are listening to you. I don't know how it happened, but bodies at bob's ipod was on shuffle in the van and we played round about by you.
Yeah right away for that part, that song by itself He is essentially the entire career of the band rush, condensed you know and executed to perfection like it made russia unnecessary yeah. That was it yeah. They were kind of unnecessary, so you know what I mean. That's the that's a ban conversation, but that's a very small number in physical time lawyer excited when you guys came up with an event when you knew oh yeah yeah like we're the we have a couple of van rules Van music. Really one of them is that if a song starts with cowbell, you turn it up. Because the number of great longs. That start with a cow bell is extraordinary, like batting average, for starting the a cowbell like it's like a very learn american band right. You can't get on women mississippi queen, basically
it's really really hard that to him to miss. If a song starts with a cowbell, it's an end. We got fooled once by in we were in europe. I dunno if you've ever listened to your. in popular radio, but now like they play music, weird pastiche music. So this is in the union's too fast. Something we hear. A cowbell dry starts of capital If I turn it up right yet so and ended ended up being lover boy, everybody's workin for the weekend. Ah such a downer to like you, did your so excited and then we realize If the paradigm had not actually been broken area, because it wasn't, a real cow bell allows the metronome the metronome. They were using a metronome cowbell drum machine okay, so they just left it in so we're still safe, see just how how much research did you have to fig to figure that out a b, a came apparent, so the sign like, oh, that song is so bad. It must have been done to a matter. Nome
cowbell isn't really a cowbell we're off the hook when you pay, so you you, you get your mind blown coming back around, so we actually did it coming back around the moment where you got the remains wreck right. Will you hadn't? the brother which thank god right I mean the records are important. My where did the remains our comfort friend of mine or an acquaintance of mine on the school bus had a cassette tape in one those little portable accordion button that plan sonic, I dont, know over there with the buttons at the end, exactly I lay a little sure courting buttons and yet a remote. open it and we were listening to it on the button and we're laughing our asses off. It was like the most hilarious thing: we never hurt this inept, bubblegum music just played right four ferociously lay out what oh, what a perfect comedy that was for us. We were mac mocking everything, and this was a thing that mocked every and itself in right, so it really resonated with me in
I ordered my own copy of the record from the record store and when it came, I played it obsessively and at first it was. It was comic rhino at first I was like laughing at the ineptitude in the And then somewhere around the tenth or twelfth iteration of playing that record obsessively, I realized that it was actually perfect and the greatest record ever made. The first reminds right yeah and at from that point on, like I, I saw the world differently what what What change? What perfect? In what way? In your mind, it sound kind of high minded to attach all of this stuff too. Banned or a record. Not, but here we do here in the our job. There remains the the subject matter of your own music was all the same sort of childish that my friends- and I were talking about- I know, like you, know, outsider culture trials trash
popular culture in a horror, movies comics like a stupid, childish, shit, We had clung to and that we were still it with that that we had kind of imbued. the significance and are in our peer group, and the romans were Can that stuff seriously. So then, suddenly I won't. Maybe I can take these perverse notions. That role through my mind seriously like their singing songs about in chains, ask her or about you know sucking for drug money or whatever, like whatever they're singing about, like I mean that that's legit like an entertain those thoughts in my own head. I don't have to suppress the metal have to like not consider those part of my useful vocabulary right so it made me take my own me. things and rambling seriously and then, by extension, I had ec seriously other people's insane obsession
and musings and ramblings. It made me, take other people different from myself, people who didn't fit the paradigm of legs. Maybe I dream rotting serious being if I need and in all all aspects if I'm not joking, when I say that it may mean that it changed the way I thought about the entire world right, he gave you almost an aesthetic. Yes, sense are an understanding and as a social awareness like you know, it had never occurred to me that somebody would have to suck dick for drug money It never occurred to me until and then I realized oh yeah, I guess the or a certain set of circumstances that becomes a viable option and also maybe a career in ok. Our elder, you, like fourteen, is important shit like I think I got this. Its work is I'm thinking about something in my own life, it would have been like national airport or something, and that that was also like. That was also part of my Group, like we're all really international amp right, you know if it served serve the same sort of cultural purpose that
at the magazine. Did in the late fifties early sixties. You know right- and you know at by taking the these offshoots of lefty or free thinking culture seriously like it. It. Genuinely forced me to reassess my interactions with every other person. Like I didn't I was. I try not to be, as is instantly judgmental in some instances, but in some instances I was much more and more judgments like immediately dismissive of people whose square and hidebound and douche, yeah and or you know, just frozen into a pre existing paradigm right, like those people seemed like suckers to me, right and yeah, yeah and and frightened suckers in a way like just to eat. But that's the that's the weird thing about cars. I imagined you're having been in music and in recorded as much as you have in an inexperienced people that either some of those meet heads get their minds blown
yeah. It might happen later right, but they're not all hopeless. Now you know, and you know anything, and I mean I shudder to think what my life trajectory would have been at that moment on that school bus not transpired like a what? What? What would have happened to give me that kind of in a while. I was in malleable state, and you know when you're young teenager and your forming your personality, like what other thing might I have latched onto that could have, you know, What's he might different trajectory we might have? It might have been chess did Zella gonna, be like tat of a ballplayer lending again, for example, at my, my politics could have gotten radicalized like I could have ended up a libertarian douche bag. I could have there are a lot of things are, so you have time for that. One, a lot of things could have happened bright too. To give me an angle, a prism which I would see the rest of my life, and it happened to be there amongst I'm incredibly lucky that it was the remains
an underground culture rather than the young republicans, or something right baby. sounds to me, like you're you're, already, a disruptive force in a europe had a innate suspicion of a pirate, you have power and that kind of stuff right. But I I think of that energy that anywhere intellect, like any that could have been right, directed wainwright good? Our would have taken with one strong minded douche bag guys the gap to and then you're off it's it's like billhook said you know, that wrong? Friends and the wrong bar in anybody can be a bum area that europe. Yet it is then the right timing. So I told you you, this moment, but you're, not a musician at that time, no and then the in. In my little peer group, we decided to start a band and we started abandon We let her play anything, not really. I mean we had a when you play. I played bass at one point and because it had fewer string
is that matter. It seemed like it would be easier and it was I mean legitimately, that's a that's a and you just taught yourself bass. I took I had. I had two lessons from an instructor that was recommended by the guitar store where I bought the base right and he was also the cheapest instructor in town And the first lesson he taught me how to tune the base like he showed me like physically to the base year. What tuning it involves, and then Second lesson: is he started to teach me the difference between them, their scale and a major scale, and point. I realized tat. I had learned enough so that what was that band that was being called just lucky, and I, coincidentally, I ran into a woman is the singer for that band. Raising her for that band, on this to her. She lives in portland. Name is heather gone churches and she's, a structural engineer array to build bridges and stuff, so she got out
get out unscathed. Everybody. There was a thing, that's cool that I've that has, transpired again and again in my life is I'll run into people that I thought were like smart the ball when they were like fifteen years, older women earn to eighteen years, older twenty years on here I'll run into them, twenty or thirty years later and theirs still smart and on the other, all and I still admire them? I still think they're cool. Yes in me, You haven't talked to them in twenty years yet and it's amazing how I think it's true more for deeds than for women, but like a friendship that is, less than a guy has with another guy that France friendship just reinflame and becomes whole after a pat after spending twenty or thirty years. No problem, like you just your right back where you were that's true, like that, like there guys that I know my life that and I'm not I'm not gender specific, but I mean europe so we do. As I know, my life, where you just know is not shake up like you, any dead. There's no need like that. You know couple p wanna get lost, sure,
religion or something but logic? eureka, even there are like you know, under the veneer of what they replied, surest zeno, his name in holding on to get through so was so at what point is this new break? It once you got the ramones records, you start just amassing records yeah I mean I was lucky. I was lucky in that missoula is a college town. We also in college towns, people like bring stuff with them from where are they came, and then they when they leave or when they need like we'd money or whatever they like shed that stuff. We added the second. And market right. There were very the secondhand record stores in missoula there's one of the great record stores in the world's place called rock and rudy's and missoula, and that place, and it came at that place, came in flower after I left, but it is one of the great record stores you can. You know what it's an important, but while I was there, there were still a bunch, a second and record shops. There was the sort of hybrids We had a lot of weird hybrid cultural. If there is one shop that had secondhand records
second hand, motorcycles, yeah, guitars and home wine and beer, making equipment like that was, as one hand shots when creative off the grid stuff. You know you need, but at that time I talked other cats who or in the original kind of american punk movement that that that was really driven by network of fans and people that that What are we to male each other, some time already, slowly and end, the chaldean culture and a night to get actual punk records were sort of a chore yeah and it was- and there was, if you know, if you ran into somebody else who had cool music tastes like the first topic, would be what are the cool records and then they would start to know that those kind of like this underground education, that you would pick up like oh yeah, this record. But may I ask I could go into a record store and the guy at behind the counter or would recognize you from, and it was from where you are looking at what you look like bright, he would say: have you heard the ride like pull
record. He always get your mind blount. May I once a week it was terrific and that you said earlier that that sort of network it doesn't exist any that the light music seen in them and the fan network does not exist in where I disagree wholeheartedly it's like a light. Hearted unaided argue would have just moved venues yet to the internet, and now there are these very robust on communities and in an exchange you know available, which has made for the exact same kind of interaction, just in a non physical environment in on you. So you still like you find a website that out a band that you never heard about before and in that website there are links to a bunch of other sort of bright progenitor. And that are all That's what I should have said is I'm old. That should really, I guess again
why am I know, that's true, but is or is there something that was in it not being physical? Yes, you, like, I, the culture, the the personal culture of the record store, I still While you pretty highly, I dont go on record stars nearly as much as I used to, and that's on me so when you started playing your drive was just it to be a punk rock to me, a musician yeah. I just wanted to I will I wanted to participate in this mania that was evident from the wreck. Said I was buying and from the you know I wanted to participate in, but you didn't find it Missouri. He had to wait till you went to college, I mean we enjoyed ourselves riding the band that we had in missoula, but it I mean it couldn't be described in any way other than failure. So angry played two gigs. That was, it Yeah and one of them was short lived. We played at a high school yeah a high school booked us for a school for, like a have a dancer or something yeah, someone at the highschool booked us right and midway through
are showing maybe thirty minutes into the show, the chaperone from the four the date like them. You know assist in principle or whatever marched on two stage onto the stage and presented our singer with the check for our fee and said You guys can stop and leave, and so we were we cut off mid set, at one of our only gigs that sounds like a successful punk performing. I could do exactly what it is supposed to do and even then ensure come up do member what song might have been the one that pushed him over the edge. I know that we did a cover of the cramped song human fly and I think it was during the human fly. There's area was interrupted, but we or even then we were thinking to steps ahead? Yeah we cached the chair at a safe way on the way out of town so that they wouldn't have time to stop payment on it.
If you think they would have oh absolutely yeah yeah, why else would they? Why else would they do it? Get it get them out, get them out, get them out the door. So when you got to college you you you were, music and you're just going yet all I was going to school. I was playing music. Why journalism exact? I had a kind of a romantic notion of journalism from being you know in the school newspaper right or idolizing, and it was. There was a time when, like what orton, Bernstein and sort of made an enormous police What kind of abuse you were like fourteen and seventy six or seventy foot yeah? So like it? It seemed as though journalism could be a you know, a tool of change and it seemed as though journalism could be Putin and it seemed just on a fundamental level. I thought writing down what
and now is important for the future right. You know yeah and that just seemed like a an a noble thing in my heroes at the time were you know, journalists, muck rakers, and you know, people who had had an effect on the culture on the greater culture and the ruins, Furthermore, right so I m me now, I did in fact pick a school Was in a big city where I assumed that there would be a vibrant, punk rock scene, no cause, I could have gone to columbia and missouri yeah, which is another good journalism school right, but I didn't think there would be as much punk rock there. So I chose northwestern, which is right next to chicago, because I'm certain there would be a lot of punk rock and wiser yeah. That was very interesting, small but extraordinarily energetic, punk seem so you're. Just a kid hanging around yeah I was just going to shows. I mean I tried to put together
and on my own and I'm in other, were I was kind of not doing well at that, and I was in a joint and other banning. I kicked out of that band and then I started recording already I kicked out. I kept making fun of brian fairy. I think that was the last straw. there's a couple that was at the core of the band and they were really intolerable. Every roxy music. They really into like that kind of british. Like sort of romantic, high forehead enemies, sports jacket and you're, just relentless yeah, but brain very basically, I mean and I as I've as I've matured. I now see the charms in some of that stuff, but at the time it just seemed really phony and pretentious, and I didn't want to didn't want anything to do with it I got kicked out of that band. I started recording stuff on my own as big black and that's when I actually started to get involved in sort of more like significant level on the music scene in terms in terms of record
and planned also playing out like we formed a live band. Jeff Pilate, the singer from naked raygun villa at the time, was one of my absolute heroes. You know that band was of of an earth shaking band. missing naked reagan perform in the early eighties was just you know. Every show was completely radically different, like they were indeed one show where they're all tripping balls: the music was just like a sheet of noise. as they would do. Another show where it was kind of like this weird space, Rocca billy you here and then they didn't they did one show where the four members of the band set up on little platforms in different corners of the room when they were like they were sort of playing like there's. This confused out of like maybe forty or fifty feet in the middle of the room, like nobody knew where to look into that exciting, because it you know experimental music at that time, like, as I remember in Albuquerque, where I grew up I talked about before I knew this guy who had this ban that play twice a year. jungle red and wishes to them, and they were in a doll parts
yeah noise- and it was something they were, wearing jumpsuit, it seemed like such an open field. Right, I'm, it seemed like limitless piano and, and that to me was stimulating exciting in that, like sort of embodied this mentality that I had like what I imagined that remains meant by all of their stuff, where I seemed to be physically embodied by the bans on the culture that I saw in the punk seen in Chicago. and it validated my thinking at validated all these leaks of of logic that I had made about how live and how I should think about people like when you're in the company of people. Like I from mozilla montana. What a night- and I was not particularly like socially aware right and suddenly I was in the company of immigrants and queers and dope fiend
people that literally lived on the street and the like that I'd never been around those people before and it and it completely opened my perceptions of what was possible like what kind of person mattered, what what people could creep eight from nothing. You know it knew it was a life changing experience, getting involved in the policing, so so that the remote open your mind to all these possibilities and made you feel less alone in your own. What you would have judged wrong minded thinking, perhaps exactly and then so you you go to chicago, and then you see, I see it in practice at any white things that you could never conceive exactly and just sort of like, of course, there's room for this. Exactly like you, you see a dude wearing a trenchcoat, completely covered in mouse traps. Yeah and you think. Well, that's that actually looks really cool you know or as opposed to what the fuck is wrong, with yeah yeah or
you go to a show and the the singer from the banned as a rat mia is literally running around on his body. While he's performing, who is echo, I think the band was called c h, you know how I go housing authority and that you know the who would do that. for one and then, when you see it and actually think well, why not that actually, that's kind of you know like it's kind of a growth version of Alice cooper and his and his python in utter what I think saying that lightweight. When you see that kind of happening any realise there are precedents for it in a way right, or button, but significant you just it's like in the at the time there was there were these paradigms, in other words, discoveries. and rock music and the rock stars. Were these exalted likes, roof statuesque, dude and everything about them was mythical, and phony, and everything about it was John over overblown and then, like the disco, seen just all it seemed manufactured and
only it seemed like it was version of a genuine culturally. I think that the saw me can. The gay culture seemed genuine to me right and disco was just like fuckin guido is in asia in douche bags, and it was when you'd see like this. The sort of mustache mocks with their silk shirts, like it's easy to be offended by that coral, assuring without without being funded by its by the gay and saw music roots right disco right disco was aberration and on and on and was abhorrent. Now. A days is something that you enable to forgive as you get older or that remain. I I have friends who
who identified with the under the social under classes that were the antecedents of disco and some of those people have like sort of embraced, the the more flamboyant diva aspects of disco- and I find that I find their embrace of it- charming though they're the the that music as it is, still repellent and sort of making it campy. I don't think it's camp, I think it's Anyone like it's sort of like the house music seen in Chicago here like the house music, in chicago was a genuine expression of underclass and sort of, not just minority but, like you know, people of different sexual identities
was a genuine expression of joy for them night and then it was stylized and co opted and turned into a formula, and it's easy to hate that formula right and it's easy to hate that exploitation, but its initial expression in the clubs and in the garage is in Chicago. That's legit, beautiful you! It has its own sure as its own soul. So when you're doing when you put big black together, the hoodie sir naked Reagan was still playing your point alongside these bassi you looked up to here and became sort of a force in yourself and where we recording the original big black records when he started recording music, I started: According it on borrowed rented equipment in my apartment ryan. I thought it until the second big black record that we actual actually recorded my band and who do. I have been in the studio with other bans, sort of helping them record stuff, but what how'd you get?
the knack for that I mean. Why is it when you say helping what were you? What were your original tasks? Well it when you're in a band yeah Actually, your band wants to make a damn or right some sort of recording right, Alfred right, and so it falls on some in the band to learn how to do that. Yeah and I just learned or I volunteered so I rented equipment when I'm back in montana, I would go to the guitar shop, shirt and rent a tape, recorder and rent some microphones mic and a track track for track and figure out how to set it up and then do in recordings and an end at the end of their at the end of it. You end up with the recording of some kind, so did that a few arms and then did the same thing when I moved to chicago like I would do demo recordings for my friend. bans or my banner and then once you develop those skills, it become an asset to your peer group. Like oh he's back that guy he's done demo tapes for bands, you can get him to do
democratic and yet so then, when you're in a ban, all your friends are in bands, and you end up doing this. Everybody that you know not until over time, it just evolves and eventually becomes a profession. I I I I occasionally speak at recording schools and in the audio departments of universities and stuff, and people talk about they're sort of like their career path, yeah, and if you, if I chart like from when I first started, doing these experimental recordings with my own band as the beginning of my experience and then recording in the studio in, like nineteen, seventy, eight or something a year or so, and then I carried on doing that informally, certainly never getting paid for quite a long time, and then I eventually developed a relationship with some recording studios that let me bring bands into record,
on a semi professional basis and then eventually had enough work where I could actually quit my job right and that didn't happen for almost ten years. From from eighty eight till eighty, eight great eighties in eighty seven, I think, is when I quit my job for the last time. What was your job? I was a photograph retouch artist and a at a place that did advertising imagery where'd. You pick up that. go. I would it have been into photography when I was in high school and then when I graduated, with western I needed a job and that I just bullshit. into it and then learned it on the fly. So you are, you are our group guy yeah highschool yeah amadou it a black and white photography, and then it so then I was we're for this company. That did images were the advertising industry and saw a lot of my time was spent, meaning
and on like the marlboro man or the merit cigarette campaign, or you know salem, just get in the car rider to stuff like that. There'd be a dude they'd photograph in the studio and then him leaning against a motorcycle right. Yeah they'd have this like epic mountain vista you're like alright, take the motorcycle did put him there yeah and then say at the end of this little wooden cigarette that he is holding as a prop. You have to put put a fire on the cigarette right now that kind of stuff. Really really mundane really, but somebody has to do it. You know, and it was good good money, yeah, terrific money, yeah, and so when I quit, actually it was actually I I had tried to get my ducks in a row before I quit like. I bought how's that qualified for my mortgage and then you know, and then I quit so like it wasn't a matter of me. Trying to buy houses. complied, who still live in our house. No, I had to sell that house when it built the studio.
work, and now I went from being a college student to being a professional in that business to being self employed as an recording engineer and do I was doing recordings the whole time but I think the expectation now is that at the end of the sea, at the end of a university programme your qualified to work in an industry and they can just get a job in that industry and that in specific, in recording, there's just so much stuff that you pick up in the saddle that I just don't think that's a realistic and and besides there's just no jobs like no one is higher recording engineers and leave. You basically give lectures to tell the the class said it's like. Look, it's really a long shot. What you're doing here is probably bullshit. Well, the main thing is that, if you're interested in it, you will pursue it any way right and anything. Yeah and the You will find a way to make it part of your life. But it's interesting to me that you're. your primary momentum was to be a musician,
I mean the job was definitely a a mean. it's to an end of me playing music and being involved. That was your first passion, yeah yeah. The way I act. The way I describe it is that there are some people who want a career in music. That is, they want to be able to play music right and have music pay their rent for them right, and then there are people, then I would sir myself one of these people who are willing to work a forty hour a week job in order to support my interest in music. The way some people would support a family. I support my interest in me: and wait that's playing, recording whatever may be the whatever to end as a fan, especially on proxy wherever there weren't that many people and everybody had to do a lot of things, if your thing you're, also another like if we in a band you're, also a guy that a contact for out of town bans booking gigs right if you're and if you're a contact for that will, then you also have to handle printing posters or fly
as for the gig right and then once you're doing that. Well, that's a small step from there to making record jackets and pressing up records and being a record label yeah and once you're doing that, then it's a small steps. You know from there to distributing your friends records as well, and so everybody, basically everybody involved in music like evolve in the original punk, writing them and in the end, the punks india had finger in all of those areas, Everybody that you run into that was in a band. They would also like me. guys. A naked reagan owned appear that they used a public address system. They asked for the practice from here. They would also. Rent it out for gigs and go to gigs as a as a sound company right. You know, and then the a bunch of the bands got together and they're like we're all pressing up our records and we're trying to sell the Let's call ourselves a label, put oliver record the same label and then maybe will have more clout, and so we formed a collective record label
That was a record label really only in that they all have used the same p, o box, where I riband was operating and will enable it s called ruthless record. I am and that record label We put records out by basically all of our peers in Chicago. if they wanted to put a record out under the name ruthless records. They were welcome to a haughty idea as long as they did all the work, no problem, but what what, in the loudest it alive, It'd do as like. You could call a distributor and say hey. I've got these new, There's a new naked reagan record coming out next week, but you still owe us for these big black records of these effigies records. A robot and you haven't paid that invoice and we're not gonna shipping. Any the naked reagan records unless you pay those invoices now, the guy on the other end of the phone didn't know that naked reagan would send him the records regardless right right. I could still say that, and I could still get paid. You were the guy that did, it sure sure, hey you're the heavy. Well,
I was the least likely to get paid right over. I see tell me that, like when you the time recorded surfer, Rosa the pixies ready you hadn't quite quit your day job yet now, still working for a photo lab in chicago and at that point you know we were getting a reputation. I dont thinks I didn't it. It may look that way if you looking in a linen reverse cannot from the area, but at the time I was I was essentially unknown outside of the very small circle of people who were into making record, but the pixels at a boston right yeah. So how did they find? You their record label was in england there.
Another boston ban called the throwing muses who remember them. They got signed to an english record label yet for eighty ray and the throwing muses people were friends with the pixies people and they said to their record label here. Here's this cosette from this other boston ban. You might be interested in they got signed on the basis of that cosette before they really establish themselves, as performing band, I dont know how many shows they done at that point, but they warrant of word unknown. Quantity right and then there are first record came out, was any p that was called from that cosette and did some business and establish them somewhat and when they were fixing to do an album, their english record label. Sort of essentially sent my name down from above and said you should talk to steve Albania about doing a record. I dont think they had ever heard of me, but I think that new railway in utter which I wouldn't have taken that as an insult at the time, would have been completely normal for yet right.
so then I contacted them. I heard their cosette thought there were an interesting ban. I thought I could probably work on the record and do ok. There are one of the first bands I worked on where they weren't part of my immediate peer group. Ah you know, and were you impressed with the music yeah to an extent I thought it would. I think that guy charles, I think, is a distinctive songwriter. I thought he he had some odd ideas that I thought were under represented and I I to this day I have a very close internship with kim deal, I think she's got an absolutely magical voice. I I think she she is a genius and she thinks about music in a unique way, and I consider myself very close to her in terms of her her musical existence like I, I really admire her, and am you know I'm proud of that association that the pixies as a band
You know there are fine, whatever they were. Fine, I'm lucky be a thought as a band. Their music was kind of unremarkable, especially considering what we were talking about like that ordinary range experiences that you could have in the punk scene. At the time, I've I felt like their music was like fairly conservative or that, but that record turns out to be record. So why did you find in starting out that dealing with maybe someday you couldn't say directly to their face, which is like me? You guys are ok, well they about tat made you sort of compensate well. I should now that I was still pretty green, not now that I'm just going like it, but he's your party that said onion a pop. This shit, no, no, no, no, no, not at all, I even then. I didn't think that I had. I didn't think I was able to talk to you now make something into you. Can turn a sausage into a trout in at an have that that kind of a delusion I think I did in certain
self insinuate myself into the personality, the record a little much in my in to my way of thinking into that record. Yeah like little bits of reach what conversation that ended up on that record and like certain sonic aspects of it, I think, were were driven more by my. Vision and the bands organic and I've, and that actually left a bad taste in my mouth thinking that no further, to their career? This ban has to answer for this all these little gags, that, on the record that weren't there idea, but now they have two. They have to go to their grave with that as on them as part of their legacy right. I'm sure that somebody made it their idea. Well, do they always say like knives? Albania! Well, regardless. I would know right. You know that if I did that to them or them coming up here and so that help to shape my current philosophy, which has been sort of since then I tend not to insinuate myself,
too much into the personality? The record I tend not to try to exert very much control over music in the music recordings and that I would go as far as to say that I I try to avoid forming opinions about the music that I work on as an engineer, because I think it's inappropriate. I think One of the experiences that I had with my friends bans going into the studio during the bunker. I was my friends bandwidth, into the studio and he would set up his amplifier be playing. It would sound awesome. It would sound like that's what my friend sounds like one replaces guitar and then you'd, see the engineer through the glass in the control. Room remain like be served, heckling is now as little and it would come out, and you know you would see this, sort of pantomime, of conversation between the guitar player in the engineer, and it would cause the engineer reaching over in turning the amplifier down to satisfy himself. Like you know, you're right, you should shouldn't places, and then
you hear the sky that you are familiar with, and his music he would play guitar and it wouldn't sound like him anymore. I would sound feeble The engineer would now have a smile on his face. A guy I fixed it yeah right, so I've seen them mentality of the engineer trying to like use his tastes and his perception of the music I've seen that be detrimental. If and is really into something in their doing, so they have a method that they ve used to form the person. The band, but I dont want interfere with that right and it's also, I mean on one hand it's none of my business, because that's that's all internal stuff that goes on within the band like what whether what their aesthetic is, what their, how they want to present their music and. I, on the other hand, like my tastes, are pretty fucked up like the music that I like that I listen to is a is kind of absurd. Like I like a lot of stuff, that sounds like kind of a disaster like what
well we'd mentioned this band and result there again from Chicago like they were. You know and aggressively experimental, noisy outside band very, very much outside, not just the comment: mainstream music scene, but outside even the punk scene in the hard core saying that we are helping the time truly odd, genuinely weird, beautiful music, if you, but most people listening to it, would just assess it s like noise and screaming for me and I am an emotional residents with it and I think it's beautiful. So if I try make other bans that are trying to make it eventually, pretty record if I tried to make them sound more like end result. It would be a failure on on both counts sure it's a it's like. If you see a beautiful woman and she's wearing a you, know a pink frock and has lipstick on and then you see a grizzly bear and you think. Well, I wonder
and maybe I should put lipstick on and an address on, the bear all you're going to do- is piss off the bear right and in the end it's not going to be any more beautiful pierre. I know yeah yeah, so so that's I'm I tried out. Are you gauge not interfere? Yeah, I tried him. I try to let each ban have their own. Have the experience of making the record that they want, and also I try not to I've seen engineers like I've, seen it happen where someone is trying to improve things and they diminish them, and I dont want to do that, and I would rather have them be I'd rather have them be erratic and unpredictable and or like not classically perfect. In order for them to be more general. So do you think, though ass time went on. I mean you did what you did several bans several records. You emboss hugged breeders, Jesus wizard, you know you deal out of many people come back to you sure.
do you think your reputation in the music community was at let's go to albania because he's gonna honour our exact, sound or I'll. Be it's gonna help, meaning it well. I think I flatter myself in thinking that I do a good job near right and I think that that's a baseline re alot of people have been frustrated by like a lot of bans. Just felt like they were treated. Ineptly rise, studio series so, just if you listen to a record from a band that you're familiar with anything while it sounds something convincing I like that band and then you look in the credits, and it's me that did the recording- that's very gratifying for me sure, and also that might entice you to bring your band to me. So I I like to think that that's a part of it like on a basic level I'd. I do a good job secondary to that Also bargain like forest for people in my position, who do what I do, I charge significantly less they are the people who are you know they have that kind of tv and have that kind of ten urine.
People have been doing it for as long and have the kind of facility audible that right. So it's a bargain right. So that's that's another selling points that the, but you, like, John spencer, deal out of the records were you and they ve got a pretty we're good friends, yeah yeah. I love those and I did you do their last them now. I've worked on bits and pieces over the years. I've I've rarely worked Entire record start to finish with John, because he's a he's, a pretty creative guy, and he has a lot of like he hasn't hit a lot procedural ideas about how it wants to do things and a lot of it is stuff that he just wants to pursue, on his own life right. I've got respect what there's a lot of punch to it do you know what I mean and you can tell when you're listening to music from somebody's really single minded or somebody's like kind of gripped by a mania of something regalia, and that to me that trumps, anything else like you can listen to a you know a recording that from a classical standpoint
it's a bad recording. You know it's distorted it's as not not full frequency response. It's not an accurate reflection of what was going on blah blah blah, but you can feel the mania coming through it right and that to me trumps everything else right. to feel that. Why, because, like you know in my limited under a sort of understanding of what My mind you represented induction wise was that there was no weather was with never mind or maybe what do you do the present record into yeah. I got a couple records for them that there was a sort of wall of of a sort of the guitars. Were you know a prompt and not that's me just reading into you well and what you're, what you're, picking up on as the aesthetic of the band like a lot of those bans had that as an aesthetic like wanted to have a very solid overwhelming sought presentation.
would you do I mean, isn't like big black sort of white that is well E. Yeah, I'm in our aesthetic was pretty raging, but the. But then also work on a lot of very modest music like there's a band called low, who are like that? Like them? very beautiful. Yet very very you know you could say modest, but it's I think it's also quite intense visa, and I think that you know that prison action is as difficult and as much of a challenge or as much of an interest of mine. As an engineer as doing like a ripping rock record, is you know, I've done a bunch of records with a singer, songwriter new york named nina nostalgia and she's done some records, whereas just hurting playing a guitar and some records where it's her and as many as nine or twelve people playing an old, very large ensemble, and there is the threat of continuity, write her aesthetic right revives through all those different changes in each of those settings requires different things from an engineer, but I find that very gratifying to work on as well. I guess I don't I don't
I dont think that I have a single aesthetic right now. Why would I lie to the other bans what I like to think that I am sensitive to what they are trying to do, and I have enough of a technical experience that I can pull off. What they're trying to get and also an appreciation of music yeah. I think that's less important, though I mean it What we are talking about before I am trying not to from an opinion I can get added by bidding talking about you as a person and not argue with you that the same spirit that brought you to chicago to appreciate all these different elements No, it's within you. I mean area, there's party of its, not gordon life. What would you can then texture eliza? You can say, like I see this right and and, like I said, I mean as I've matured I've. Even I mean if, if Gordo called me, which probably higher, but, like the the point being that I feel like I wouldn't
I stuck with music. If music wasn't important to me, I probably would have done something else that had a technical capacity like. I could conceivably have satisfied myself as a photograph retouch artist for the rest of of a of an extended career. Do you still take pictures? or did you take nitrous. It's been a long time and haven't been but, like I guess, they're worried about you. Maybe it's just my personal. What I'm bringing to it cause! I look at you know the number of of albums you've produced, which is hundreds right, thousands, thousands, yeah, yeah yeah of all different levels, like in their ones it. I know and I know where the artist was before they recorded with you and where they were after, like someone like nirvana or like PJ harvey and now like in looking at the john spencer stuff in the breeder stuff like and like for me like, You know I listen to the difference between. Did you didn't do dry? Did you did peter harvey one yeah you did. no no. No. No. I didn't derided riddle me right, like the difference between dry and rid of me is profound. So in my mind, that might was Steve must have done well
then, if you listen to the other records that other pda. Every records like that there's a pretty dramatic personality shift mean every record. Lady. I now see that now we are at the point that I did the pigeon hole. record peter harvey, was banned. A functioning three peace ban right, the name of the band was Pga our right right, Shortly. Thereafter it Peter harvey became a solo performer polly, harvey right and the band identity exist anymore, so she made radical changes between each of her records as an individual, I worked on the last record that she did where it was the original. incarnation of a band right and then she broke away from that and became a solo performer after that rail, her solo records were all constructed sort of individually right. I think I am. I am sensitive about get getting credit for aesthetic decisions that the bans the musicians make. My concludes that because I because I am
receive about not participating in those decisions bright. So if you like, if you listen to record anything while that was brilliant, the way they did that with the music there. That's not me, that's them right! You know what that's like. That's that take some humility huh. Well, I mean it's part of it is there's a there's, a careerist aspect to being an engine producer where, mainstream paradigm of record labels and the music business people use their professional capital in different ways, and but first you have to accrue that capital. You have to become responsible for a hit or a successor, something right. So you have to claim off ship of it. Somehow, and then you have. You know that you have some professional capital, which you can then use to extend your career I've, never been interested in a career. In that sense, I just I like my job. I want to keep doing it. You know
why you notorious we don't sign on for the royalties yeah. I don't take royalties on record that I work on, partly because I think it's enough. It's part of a system that exploits the musicians, yeah and artists in a way that I'm just not comfortable with, but also, I just don't feel like my my job warrants. It there's a there's, a true a fundamental thing that I've noticed about the music scene, which is that one any. Anyone wants to be paid. A percentage for ever it is, it doesn't matter whether its management booking agent promoter whatever, whenever somebody wants to be paid a percentage of what would other I'll, be your income. That person is being overpaid and right nothin. I understand, and I feel like not participating in that system- makes it easier for me to get to sleep and all
means that the differential, like the money that would otherwise have gone to me, that's going to the band not feel good about, I feel good about knowing that the members of nirvana, for example, or a couple milk hours richer as individuals, it's their music, it's their record. They they deserve that money. They did they made those records and they gave you know they lived that experience rang right, so they deserve that couple. Arrived million dollars that I didn't get rang right and, and it's not like, I'm hurting in right, like I can still make grant keep doing my job and I keep getting paid what I've been debts of character that you decided for yourself in its day commendable away. I mean I appreciate, That's very nice thing to say to me and about me, but I can also. I also feel like it's just an observation like other people have not maybe haven't realised that their exploiting other people right I'll, be in order.
It's very easy to term we chose not to play along with the paradigm that was feeding oh yeah, but it's easy to either fain ignorance or prefer ignorance in a situation like that, where you you know- but another producer might just as easily as you say that it's the bans record would say like wild. I produce at record I'm part of it. Ok, you know I mean ok permitted, if, if the producer, if even if it was that important turkey, was that big of a factor We're george Martin would say, like you know, I don't deserve any that beetles money now bear george Martin came from a completely different political organ. nation of the music seem in the early sickly fifties early sixties. There was a hierarchy. Within the corporate structure, rye record label where a producer was a staff person hookah who was responsible for making records, and he picked the artists pick this
rice pick, the studios may arrangements blah blah so completely different paradigm, ochre rights and in his in that paradigm, that compensation scheme but we made sense because he was much more of an authority and the analysis in the system. Yet I am yet it not part of that right. But in if you talk about contemporary producers, I people who make music now there are a couple of different kinds. The term has evolved in meaning like there are people who make completely finished backing tracks and then they can apply of evoking list over any portion of that track and to finish it to complete. In that sense, those people are authors of that music right right, but when a band comes in with a song that they wrote four years ago, that they've been playing on the road and that they you know, is like embodiment of their as he had taken, and they knock that song out into takes, and I'm I just sit in a chair and hit Lord there's no way that I deserve more than just an
our leave. What age where I simply, however, for what I've done, you know and that's The situation that I'm in most commonly is I'm just I'm recording what a band is doing organically and you're, making it sound the best you can yeah and you know, That's just boils down in your incompetent right. You call yourself a recording engineer sure over a producer yeah I mean I am I've seen producers and action, and they are like bossing people around and telling people to you know keep the high had a little more peppery taught me oh shit, like that. It's not! That means, of course, not so like that sort of stuff, if you're in, if you're doing that, then I'm proud not The associated with that now in, like a I mean the one of the biggest records. Now you were. Involved in your mind, like I know that in utero that was the one that you got. That was the last one and they came to you yet,
you say the biggest records. I presume that you're talking about like they're, there financial, leonards and guess what you think. You know I well that that examples, big bedroom. That was a big change for them and it's a it's a significant record for the okay I'll, give you two records that are really big for me. I did a record one scanners couple of years ago now and for a guy named John grab ski he. He had been given a terminal cancer diagnosis and after having beaten cancer, pray cecily right, the cancer reasserted itself, and it was he had a terminal diagnosis right. He had two options and his treatment. He could
maintain, a sort of normal quality of life yeah for a relatively short period, or he could maybe extend his life by being very aggressive with the treatment right at the expense of much lessened quality of life yeah and he chose to live his life as normally as he could, and let the cancer take it's course, but he was going to try to be productive. the month that he had left her months or weeks whatever it ended up being they contacted me and said he wanted to make an album documenting his relationship with the disease and that's how he wanted to spend his last months on earth was making this record. That was going to be a statement about his relationship to the disease so he and his brother came to the studio and we recorded an album and we finished it and it got mixed and it got released and the album is out under the the the name of the band is teeth and the outcome is called the strain
and it's an incredible record. It's a great record, but it's a brutal record and it's a really eyes open assessment of his. You know they. They call it a struggle, it's not a struggle, it's a relationship, it's his relationship with the disease from the inside right and it's like a it's kind of loan like a war correspondent, giving them asked of the world synopsis of the action. along with him. It's just expressing himself about his. You know his emotional state and his feelings in his fear, and is you know everything I read tied into its an it's really remarkable out, so that records really big. For me, the fact that
able to do that record with that guy in the last months of his life and his up his approach to life in his his commitment to staying on it rather than being passive, or rather than making a comet making accommodations to that. These that was inspirational to me again. It was one of those things like listening to that roman's record. It changed the way. I saw the whole world and ranger possibilities that I can have. So that's a big record for me and a few years earlier Kim deal had been contact me about making a breeders record or record under the name of the breeders she had been, should go through a bunch personal stuff. She had had her back her actual banned? The breeders had kind of dissolved under she tried to mount another version of that band, and that was a failure had burned through
a bunch of money yeah. It was kind of at the end of a rope with respect to that year, relationship and we got started making this record and she was suspicious of me as she had grown, to become suspicious of other recording engineers who had been trying to like sort of hoodwink her into doing things in ways that she didn't want to, and that rate reopened our relationship. I we hadn't really interacted much since the first breeders record that I worked on, which one It was called pod yeah, oh yeah, yeah, it's good and then the one with the cover of a bit of a This is one area so and in the intervening years she had seen all in her
a lot of changes in her personal life- she you know, battling this in that yeah yeah gone through a bunch of shit, ranked if that session had gone poorly like if, if she hadn't been able to reanimate the breeders. At that point, I I I shudder to think what she what things might have gone wrong fur for her, but we had a very successful session. We cared with more. She formed a new version of the band around the success of those initial sessions. We recorded some with that bans she carried on and since then she's made several breeders albums, some of which I have worked on, which record was that this was a record called title to Kay. and that record reinvigorated mirage reestablish. My relationship with Kim she's become a dear friend,
I have an enormous amount of respect for her and her aesthetic and her perseverance through all the bullshit that she's been saddled with and and so that that record stands out to me as as an important record and then that so those are two specific records, but they kind of hint at a thing. where I've I've worked with some people over a very long period of time and many many sessions with these people and they become kind of woven into the fabric we each sort of gotten woven into the fabric of our lives and that those relationships to me mean more than the records which it little artifacts your along the way where I have a relationship right. So so, what I m most proud m are those relationships as long standing relationships where I are it's not just that, I'm working with somebody again and again it's it's that you know the the whole range of experiences that was hinted at to me by
the you know the idea of punk rock as expressed by the mountains. Whatever all of that is all true like I I get to experience all of these life experiences. I get to have these long. You know meaningful friendships and professional relationships that transcend any aint. You know any artifact that that you make along the way those that those are the things that matter to me. That's beautiful, oh the air, but I mean it wasn't always like that was it I mean that something that sort of evolved as you evolved as a person yeah, I mean emotional. It probably took me twenty years to be right, be to realize that the actual records aren't that important. You know, and I and I genuinely feel like the actual records- are not that important, like it's nice when there's a good record and I'm proud of doing a good job and all that sort of stuff. But the the records are sign posts
But you know your life in the life of anna and I'm I'm pleased that I have gotten to experience all the things that I've gotten to experience along the way in in. like it. You can we talk about early on like isn't. It struck me that, in looking back at who, I am you are that there was no intention. in an anger and and in a sort of like a person that was sort of them. You do you ready to explode and well I mean it. I should point out that I've managed to steer clear of all of the things that I might otherwise have been frustrated by and anchored at like that pensions of the mainstream music music business. I just don't operate that way, so never frustrated by it. I have like an boozing whenever you're thing now, I'm nice, I stop drinking when, in my twenty steadiest realised at I didn't like being drunk it in.
and I was a dick to other people, and I reckon it just wasn't it wasn't I gave anything not right right, Romano people that I know who I am very lucky that I never developed a taste for alcohol because because I was a real prick, you know, and you saw I mean I have to assume- that over the the arc of this career and talking about some of your close friends that this was not you saw it. You saw, averages saw it in every I met at every manifestation. I and it it. You know, I've seen people who have lost things more important to them. For the sake of indulging. You know the entrance a chemical yet which is tragic, got. I also have seen people for whom an identity as an actor and identity as a drunk or whatever. That is a part of their personnel that, they cherish like they feel, like you know, being in that spectrum is part of what defines them
they feel like if they lose that then they're losing something important about the way they see the world or the the way they interact with it, and I'm I'm not going to judge that is wrong or right. Well, you seem like a a r F, reasonably happy yeah yeah. I I think I said I'm I've tended to avoid those things that could the affrighted radio kids. I have no kids, none that I know of him and- and I know that you pay professional poker. yeah. I would consider myself semi professional. I can't them if I tried to make a living as poker player would probably be a pretty meagre living and with it, but it was is just something you are interested in and you are going to have played cards my whole life and yet it's a tremendously stem.
In game, I I I enjoy the I am not a competitive person. Rancher like a you know, I I don't necessarily want to beat anybody else I just want. I want to do things well, I want to. I want to do something while myself right. So I'm I'm not as concerned about beating somebody else, as I am about you know, doing things correctly or doing things. Well, myself, and poker as a place where you have a very pretty obvious scoreboard here at night if you leave with more money that came with war, then you're, you know you're you're doing something right. I know you sort of have an kind of proletariat sort of view of your job, but are there people that you want to work with that? You have Oh sure I mean it, I guess there's someone out there like I love the record. I guess I get this question a lot, and I have this I've had the same, nor yet the same laundry. Who is the same with well my point being, if any,
if this was ever going to happen, yeah it would have by now. Probably you know like. I can't I couldn't count the number of times that I've said you know it. Neil young give me a call in right right, yeah yeah, but willie nelson. You know you're getting hit google and very easy to find an affordable yeah. But but you know I did get experience of recording the stooges, who were are, they did the weirdness or I didn't I'm with them, and that was an experience it. I I I wouldn't trade for the like that, just hanging out with the stooges for a month was may be. The key this thing I've ever done. I can claim to being that cool of a person right but hanging out The stooges every day like just when just hearing his voice over the intercom. You know when the doorbell it yeah and siggy- it's like fucking best now just like. If I could time travel back to fifteen year old me and say now, I don't
worry about all this bullshit one of these days, you're going to get to record the stooges album it's going to be great and it was exactly the experience you had want. You know like he was like huge personality at assured off the whole time. He had assured shirt in here. Yeah he's like he's, is wrought iron, that guy that's exactly what he is. What you think iggy pop is what you think the the kind of dude you would like to him like if I ran into iggy pop. What would it be like? That's what it's you know it better than you like. I was surprised at how articulate and how good his memory is, all how intelligent he is and how is framed his life. It's amazing in on the other guy's an and seeing for particularly for iranian scott, like they're they're. Both number, but they have, he's been kind of short changed like there, but it was there and you know, and there They never really achieved any kind of like significant success during the initial. integration about like they were. They were known by other musicians, brightly they weren't celebrated, rang and too
them see their band like ryan likes reanimated, where I got in its original incarnation like this is the ban that we always wanted and we ve got it back were playing a sell out every night and people love us like that. Just that was very satisfying for them to see like their ambition for their themselves. Like see it say it real, like that in our very tat for so many years after that, after so long to like just to get another bite at the apple, witches I thought that was really really great. You brought up by bill hicks did you know bill I didn't know my. My wife knew him quite well, my. Why really yet my wife has worked in the comedy world fur coat I'm telling you, I know our heather machine she managed. I want to say the funny firm, in chicago and laugh factory in chicago for the last fifteen year, twelve fifty she's been a manager at the second city, and so she,
she knows, all the complex that used to come through and all those places where she worked here, and so am I interacted with a lot of those people, but I I didn't know bill, but he atta. He had an influence. He seems like it in terms of your spirit that there's definitely a similarity in in yeah. I mean every all the stories that I am in and there is a guy that used to work at our studio. It was a guy named John, a botany. He was a stand up in Chicago and he he and bill were friends of year like the stories that heard from heather and from John about bill mean I appreciate how genuine he was like he's another one of those guys like me, you see a comedy and you get a sense of perspective and you hear what, What it would be like, as a personal, it's nice, to hear it from people who knew, directly that he was basically the same dude, indeed while sweeter by get europe, then one on one. So what's your relationship with company did was a part of it like? I know they thought the remains were funny, but when you are, you did was comedy sort of thing. I
can't really say that I was that embedded in the comedy culture I liked it like. I know there was a period where comedy was like sort of in it's heyday in the late eighties, early nineties, where there was like the stand up thing was yeah well, yeah the boom, a right to you know a route to some sort of stardom. Here I didn't really participate in it or I didn't know anybody that did, but it in the ensuing the through heather, her friends. I've come to meet a lot of people who ended up being kind of significant comics. There's a guy who used to work in It was an abandoned used to work in the clubs and chicago name, fred armies, and whose Our idea, terrific, terrific dude and he honed his comic skills. By like marking an end playing with all the people in the he used to work at a local club called lounge access at a club where all the bands would tour through and hear, and he wouldn't like play pranks on the bands, and he wouldn't. You know like that. That's where a lot of his comic sensibility came from
right and and he's a musician himself. He yeah he was a drummer in a band called trench. Mouth, and so it was seeing him go from being just fred from lounge to being this like internet, sorry I wish. Sir that's one of the most amazing things at ever witnessed close, and I like it This person that I've ever known that wanted to become famous and then like through strength of will and being funny made himself famous, pretty astounding, isn't it so you're in town playing. We played a couple, a night's we played at the echo and we played at the regent theatre last night, and now my wife and I are just taking a day off to goof off- was a real honour. Talking to you buddy, oh, thank you. Thanks for coming no problem hey you, go the man the force of nature that is Steve Albania. I hope that satisfied most of your needs out of a conversation with me throughout beanie deputy ipod Roy you, deputy ipod, needs
not to worry much, because I'm working on the thing that I can't talk about. Yet, what's that noise you want guitar, I made up a rift that I like and I think, I will play for you now. The boomer lives.
Transcript generated on 2022-09-13.