Steve Albini - 2005

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Steve Albini is the legendarily acerbic - yet honest and witty - founder/guitarist/vocalist of power trios Shellac, Rapeman and Big Black, as well as one of the busiest recording engineers in the history of America. When he agreed to a 12:15 AM telephone interview one wintry eve in February, I was so excited that I completely forgot I don't live in Chicago. Luckily, I decided to call at 12:15 my time in hopes that he could do the interview early and I could go to bed. Thank goodness I did or he would have run off to some rock and roll concert! My questions are in bald; his answers are in plane text.


Electrical Audio.

Oh, hey. Is Steve around?

This is him.

Hey Steve. This is Mark Prindle.

Oh hi. How are you?

Hey, good. I don't actually live in Chicago, I just realized. So I just wanted to make sure - 12:15 is 12:15 your time, right?

Yeah, that's okay. Well, I got off work slightly early tonight so I was planning on going to see a show.

Oh! Okay.

Is there any way we could do this in the next like say 15 or 20 minutes?

We could do it right now.

Okay. That sounds good.

You're available right now?


What are you working on?



A different one every day.

Oh, really?

Well, not really. Sort of.

Oh. Are you writing any music?

Shellac has been working on stuff for the last year and a half, something like that. We haven't gotten much recorded. We've got about 20 minutes of music recorded, and we've probably got another 15 or 20 that's inching toward being ready to record.

Sounds good! I was wondering if the band - I know you said the band wouldn't break up or anything, but I was hoping something new would be coming out.

Yeah. There's no schedule, but I'm sure we'll have another record before too much longer.

Okay. Now what to you is -- I know this is a really old issue, but I always refer to the sound of a record as like "the production."


That's not right, right?

Well, it could be. If you're talking about the sound, you'd might as well just call it "the sound." If you're talking about specific production decisions, like sound effects or arrangements or orchestration or instrumental choices, that sort of thing, I think that's more what I would call "production." Like the things other than the straight songwriting and playing/performance aspect that are brought to bear on a record. That's what I would consider "production," but I'm sure it's a fluid term that everybody uses differently.

Okay. Are you working pretty much every day?


I keep seeing in these other interviews with you where you keep talking about working ALL THE TIME. How important is work to you? Is it for the financial aspect, or for the -

Well, there are a bunch of things that come to bear there. On one hand, I like my job so I don't mind doing it. In addition to that, I'm sort of the principal engine for generating income for this studio that I own. And this studio is a large and cumbersome operation that employs a half dozen people and costs a lot of money to keep afloat, so I have to earn a lot of money in order to not go bankrupt. So I don't have a lot of choice in terms of how much I work. I basically must work as much as people want me to. There have been times where I've worked 6-8 weeks in a row without taking any time off just because that's what was required of me. And when I get time off, I'll get a day or two off and then I'll have to work for another couple of weeks.

You said you're going to a show tonight. You still go to a lot of shows?

When I can. Tonight there's a couple of bands that I happen to really like, and the session finished about an hour ahead of schedule tonight, so I can make it out there.

Who is it? Who's playing?

It's a band called .22. Like the pistol caliber. And then another band called Mirror America.

How do you still hear - have you recorded these bands? How do you still hear -

No, .22 is a band that I've known for years, and Mirror America has people in the band that I've known for years, and I've seen both bands quite a few times. I do still go out when I can, but not that often.

Are you still as interested in music as you always have been?

Yeah, but I'm not culturally embedded in the active scene of bands, and I don't go to their bars and hang out with them, and I don't socialize with them. The active band community in Chicago has a pretty wide age range but the most active people are all in their twenties and I'm 43, or I will be 43 this year. So I don't tend to socialize with people that age because I don't know any of them. I wouldn't have anything to talk about, you know? So I'm not as embedded in the milieu as I was, but when I come across bands or records that I like, I still get just as excited.

What else are you really into besides music?

I'm not really into that much. I mean, I have interests. I like playing poker. I like playing billiards. I like cooking. I like my girlfriend.

Is this the same girlfriend you've had for ten years?

Yeah. We realized that we had just gone through our twelfth Valentine's Day.


And we realized that, and she slapped me. Because we're still not married.

Why aren't you married yet?

Ehh. I mean...


Ehh. I don't know. It just seems like you should do things because you want to do them rather than because you can't come up with an argument not to. And I suppose at some point the urge to marry will overtake us, but I'm perfectly happy going out with a wonderful woman. I don't feel obliged to marry her, you know?

But does she want to get married?


So there's that sort of obligation.

Oh, I... You know.

Doesn't she deserve to go through a nice ceremony?

She wants to wear $1800 shoes as well! That's not my responsibility -- to satisfy her fantasies.

Maybe she wants your last name!

She can call herself by my last name. I won't get mad. But what it boils down to is I actually think marriage matters. I actually think being married to somebody is important. And doing it out of some sense of momentum or nonchalant sort of obligation seems silly to me. It's the sort of thing that you should undertake quite seriously. And I don't think it's the hallmark of a relationship that it's "marriage-worthy." I think relationships can exist inside or outside of marriage, and I feel like the marriage can -- the wedding can occur at any point in a marriage as far as I'm concerned, you know? And if you gave people the option, everybody would ask for one of those really good fifty-year marriages. That's the kind of marriage everybody wants; they want one of them grow-old-together marriages. But you can't order 'em like that. You get a marriage and then you wake up fifty years later and realize you got one of the good ones. And I just see that as a continuous process, and I don't see any real rush to have a ceremony. I feel like the ceremony can happen anywhere along the line.

That's interesting. With me, I guess we'd been dating about seven years and we were both like, "Well, at what age are we gonna start feeling silly calling each other 'girlfriend' and 'boyfriend'?" So I don't know.

I guess I'm sort of immune to feeling silly, except in regard to my hair.

What's your hair doing?

Oh no, I mean if my hair is uncomfortably long, then I feel silly. That's basically it.

Oh, okay. I was just reading some of your older interviews so as not to be too repetitive, and I saw where you said you can remember when you suddenly just stopped caring what other people think.


That's amazing! I wish I could do that.

It was literally one particular afternoon. I realized that if it didn't matter to me, then it didn't matter to anybody, and it was meaningless. So I didn't have to pay any attention to it. It was quite a liberating moment.

Do you ever get tired of the image that was set up around the name 'Steve Albini' when you were younger?

Nah, it doesn't really affect me. The people I deal with on a personal level - like the people I deal with every day - they're actually interacting with me on a real basis, and they know what I'm like and they can evaluate me as a real person. And those people couldn't give a shit about a public image, because they're actually talking to me and they have to contend with me as an individual. People that I'm never gonna meet? They can think what they like about me, and I don't care. Really, I honestly don't care. If it's not somebody that I'm ever gonna have interaction with, let them enjoy whatever fantasy they get. Whatever satisfaction they get out of thinking I'm a dickweed or that I'm some type of bronze Adonis - whatever it is, it gives them some pleasure to have that opinion and I don't want to squelch that. Whatever. Think what you like. I'm sure there are people that I've never met that I have opinions about that aren't very valid, but I like indulging them.

What do you attribute your still long-running popularity to? I mean, you can go five years without doing a record and people are still just as excited.

Well, I think our band has got a particular audience. Shellac has got an audience that isn't necessarily as excited by things because they're new. They're an audience that has specific tastes, rather than general tastes that need to be stimulated at regular intervals. I think the general audience likes novelty and likes to be refreshed pretty regularly, but once - and I'm this way with bands that I like as well. Like I don't actually need a new AC/DC record for me to be a really enthusiastic AC/DC fan. And I don't need Joy Division on the street for me to really like Joy Division. And I feel like almost any band that sticks around long enough to develop its own audience will have that relationship with its fans.

But it's not just Shellac. It's Steve Albini.

Well, you know, that's -- It's impossible for me to evaluate that because I'm actually Steve Albini.

Ha! That's true.

I can't really evaluate what the public impression of me is, because on one hand I tend to dismiss most of it as stuff that doesn't matter to me, and on the other hand I can't form an opinion about me, because -

But you've got to think it's pretty cool that people like - whatever their reasons were - the fact that people like Nirvana and the guys from Led Zeppelin wanted to pick you.

Oh, that's immensely satisfying and - yeah, it kinda makes me blush when I think about the people that I've had an opportunity to work with. And not just necessarily - I mean, not exclusively and probably not principally famous people. When I think of all the people whose records I've gotten to work on whom I would be a slavish, adoring fan of regardless, I am sort of humbled by that and it's very gratifying. Like knowing that I got to work on a half a dozen records that became among my favorite records ever.

Which would be "Spiderland" and -

Oh, I didn't work on "Spiderland."

Oh, you worked on "Tweez," that's right. Okay.

But like the Jesus Lizard records and a couple of Will Oldham's records and the Nina Nastasia records and Shannon Wright's last record. I've gotten to work on records that mean a lot to me on a personal level. The same meaning that records that I'd go to the store and buy had on me when I was a teenager, I've actually gotten to sit in a chair and watch some of those records get made, so that's been enormously satisfying to me. And I think that's probably the aspect of my job that I like the most - is that I get to work on really great records with really cool people. Not every day - not every year even - but when it happens, I think it happens uniquely in this environment. I think if I were a conventional dollars-an-hour recording engineer and I was working on movie soundtracks or jingles or flavor-of-the-month mainstream records or whatever, I don't think I would have the level of satisfaction with my job that I do, because I would be working on stuff that didn't mean anything to me when it was all finished. While you're making the record, you're sort of prevented from appreciating it on that level because you can't allow yourself to be distracted by your enthusiasm and ignore problems as they come up. So you're sort of like a gynecologist in a sense. Like you're working up close and personal with a vagina but you really shouldn't allow yourself to get turned on by it, because you've got a job to do. You need to have a different relationship with the vagina. And it's the same way with music when you're in the studio, so it's only after you finish a record that you even can allow yourself to enjoy it as a fan.

How is it not difficult though to listen to - let's be honest, to listen to lousy bands? Having to work with them day after day after day and not want to make suggestions? Other than recording suggestions.

Well, I think I've been in enough situations to realize that every band has an aesthetic. It may not be an aesthetic that I find particularly laudable or whatever, but it might just be that I don't get it. Before he died, John Peel said something that I thought was really profound. He said when he gets a record from somebody and he doesn't like it, he assumes that it's his problem and that the band would not have made that record if there wasn't something valuable about it. And I kinda feel like that's an appropriate perspective. Like this band wants to make this record - for some reason, they really want to do this - and they can get a lot of satisfaction out of it. And I get to witness their satisfaction, and how fucking cool is that? It's like being there on Christmas morning watching kids open their presents. It's like you get to see somebody having the time of his life, satisfying some deep ambition of his, and bringing something into existence from his own creative impulse. Seeing the satisfaction in other people and getting to be a part of it and helping that happen - regardless of what it is, it could be a fucking nursery rhyme, you know? But that it happens at all is immensely rewarding.

Yeah! That's an interesting way of looking at it.

And the other thing is that I don't think necessarily every record has to suit ME, you know? I don't think that I'm a universal audience; I think my tastes are my own, and I want to give the bands enough respect to have THEIR own tastes. So if I tried to shoehorn every record into some facet of my aesthetic, not only would I make a lot of lousy records, I'd make a lot of records that were unrepresentative of the band whose name is on the front.

How do you decide how to mix a band? Do you sit down with them first to ask what kind of sound they're looking for?

Yeah, it's their game. From the beginning of the process to the end, the band is in charge. The band makes literally all the creative decisions along the way, and is responsible for deciding when we're finished with one stage and can move on. Literally, every production aspect is decided on by the band, and my job is to execute it.

I was astonished that you were able to put out a Page/Plant album that wasn't full of lush corny synthesizers and stuff.

Well, that was all down to them. They wanted to make a record that was more like a combo record - that was more like the music that they played together in their, you know, in their young adulthood, as it were. Not necessarily that the music would be the same, but their origination of it would be the same. You know, a live band that would play together and work the material up and that would be it.

I really like that album. I mean, it's really mellow, but personally I liked it.

I think it was something of an accomplishment that they were able to make that record at all, just because they hadn't worked together in a very long time, they had this really heavy legacy that they would have to meet staring down at every juncture, Robert Plant had been enormously successful as a solo artist and Jimmy Page was now having to be sort of collaborative with this very successful guy who previously was just the singer that he'd hired for his band, you know? It's like the relationships changed pretty dramatically in the 20 years between records, and I think it reflected really well on both of them that they were able to adapt and that they were able to work together in a collaborative fashion. The end result, the record, was inevitably going to be compared to Led Zeppelin records - that is, inevitably gonna be held up against half a dozen of the best records EVER - so I think in that sense it couldn't help but disappoint some people. But it wasn't made for them; it was made for Jimmy and Robert.

I really like it. I think it'd be much more fair to compare it to Robert Plant albums or you know, Page/What - Who'd he play on that album with?

He did a record with David Coverdale.

Yeah, Coverdale/Page. It's certainly better than that stuff.

It might be more interesting to compare it to a vacuum. That record exists, and it wouldn't have otherwise. So which would you prefer? That record or silence? I think that's a more realistic comparison. I know it invites other comparisons, but I genuinely think that it's different enough from its progeni- progenitors (or whatever the word is that I'm trying to come up with here) that it's not fair really to think of them as a continuum.

Were they fun to work with? Were they nice and everything?

Well yeah, but you have to understand that they've lived a life of complete insular indulgence by the nature of their success. From a very early age, they were enormously successful and they've never really had to contend with street level human problems except as relates to life and death matters. They were perfectly comfortable for me to work with, and I got along with them and I liked them as people, but I also think that their life experiences have been so different from everyone else's in the world that I don't think you can really evaluate them on the same standard. Like saying "Is Queen Elizabeth a nice lady?" Who knows? No one's ever said no to her!

Yeah, that reminds me of when I met Keith Richards once and spent an evening around him. He just seemed like a guy who'd had everything done for him his entire life. He's Keith Richards; everyone bows down to him, everyone recognizes him, and everything's done for him.

And how many of us would not take a measure of that kind of pampering and indulgence if we could get it? What build of a person, if offered anything his heart desired, would say, "Actually, I'd prefer you take some things away from me." It's a rare, rare human being that would not enjoy that to the hilt. And the one thing I can say about Jimmy and Robert is that THEY ENJOY.

So as someone who cherishes honesty as much as you do, how do you deal day to day with the fact that so much of society is just bullshit, politics, fake, dishonesty, trying to be someone you're not?

That stuff sort of makes itself apparent, and you have to contend with it at the moment, but you can't let it change your opinion of basic humanity. I'll give you an example. Shellac was driving from Chicago to St. Louis to do a show, and there's a strip of highway between here and St. Louis on I-55 -- Is it 55 or 58? I forget. Anyway. -- where rock bands in vans are routinely pulled over for trumped-up reasons just so that the cops can root around in the van and see if they can find any drugs. It happens almost every trip. It's like a tollbooth. And when we got pulled over in this sort of predictable way, this cop came up to the window and told Bob that he had changed lanes without signaling and that's why he pulled him over. Now, we all knew that that was a lie. Everybody in the van knew that we'd been in the same lane for 40 miles and that there was no signaling and no lane changing. The cop knew he was lying to us. There was nothing about that interaction that was anything to do with the words that were coming out of his mouth. He wasn't saying, "I saw you change lanes without signaling so I pulled you over." What he was saying is, "I can say anything I want and get away with it." Right? So the power relationship is what matters there - not the language. What he was saying was meaningless; what he was expressing was that we have to do what he says because he's prepared to lie. So when people talk about the dishonesty of a situation, it's not the dishonesty. Nobody cares if you lie. Nobody cares if you're telling the truth or not. The rationale for the lie and the function of the lie - that's what matters. So when George Bush says, "There can be no doubt that there are weapons of mass destruction," that he's lying doesn't matter. The rationale for the lie is that he wanted to start a war; that's what matters. So I don't think that dishonesty of itself is the issue. I think it's the function of dishonesty - the way that it's used as a kind of a doorbell to let you know that you're in for fucking. That's why it's a problem. I value honesty because it makes relationships transparent. If the cop had come up to our window and said, "You guys look like a rock band. Figured I'd pull you over and toss your van to see if I could find any drugs," I would have had more respect for him. I would have thought, "He could have lied to us, but he didn't!" And it's not like we would have said, "No, you cannot." Because he still could have rung us up for the fuckin' lane change without having to lie to us in the first place. And I think the reason I value honesty is that it makes those relationships transparent, and it lets you evaluate something that somebody says, knowing that that's actually what he's trying to tell you, rather than that he's using that as a lever, you know? And I really don't like implicit content that people refuse to make explicit. I think I like that less than I like lying. I think I like lying a little bit more than I like an unspoken subtext that's understood.

That's sort of how I've been feeling about Bush the whole time. It's just, "Okay, you want to start this war and obviously there's a reason for it. Is it because you want to get our economy going again? Is it because you're afraid that all the Muslim countries are going to get together and lead a crusade against the West? Is it because of this, because of that? Just TELL us! Don't make up this nonsense!"

Yeah, exactly! Like why bother with the nonsense? Why not just say - I mean, I think those points could be debated, and you know, you might be able to convince me. You know? If he'd tried to make the case that "Look, I just wanna get Saddam Hussein out. That's all I wanna do. I don't give a shit about anything else. We can allow chaos and terrorism to foster; as long as we get rid of Saddam, that's really all I care about," then I think that could have been debated and he might have won some people over. He might have been able to carry the day on his actual argument.

For instance, just the fact that so much of our economy is kinda tied up over there, if he'd just said, "Look, it's not MY fault, but for whatever reasons, we're reliant on these countries and uh... we don't have any friends over there."

We need leverage.

Yeah. Are there any bands that you've ever actually approached and said, "Man, I really want to work with you guys," or has it always been the other way around?

I try not to because I don't want to put anybody on the spot. I also don't want to make what my normal fan relationship with a band is - I don't want to make that awkward. Like I don't want them to not want to talk to me because they think I have an agenda.

Oh okay. Yeah. Are there any like really - Who are some of the greats that you would - Like, would you -

Well, there are people that I'm not ashamed to mention because I don't think that anything will ever come of it and it's more like wishful thinking than anything else, but I would give a nut to work on a Willie Nelson. I think he's an amazing artist still, and I would love to work on one of his records. And I would love to do a Crazy Horse record. I think that they are precisely the sort of band that I "get" when they're playing live, and I think I could do a credible job and also I would love to do it. I think the same thing about AC/DC. I would love to work on one of those records. There's no reason to think that it will happen, and there's every reason to think that it would be a bad idea from a commercial standpoint, but I can dream.

You could better than Rick Rubin did, I hope.

Yeah, I'm sort of uncomfortable nitpicking decisions that were made by bands based on the results, because I don't know what went into the making of any of their records. I don't know what was brought to bear on them and I don't know what they were contending with, so I'd rather just either play them or not, you know? Without it affecting my opinion of the band as a whole.

Are there some records that you've worked on - that you did the recording on - that you feel like you are the most proud of, not necessarily because of just the music but because of how you were able to capture it?

It's funny that you should mention that. There was a record that I hadn't thought of in years that was playing in the office the other day - it's this Urge Overkill album called "Supersonic Storybook." Now, Urge Overkill is a band that I had long ago dismissed as being pointless fools, but listening to this record I had to admit I thought it sounded pretty good. And I kinda felt like it was a flattering representation of that band at the time. I think I did a good job on it.

Isn't that the one that nobody knows you produced? Or that you worked on?

I don't know.

I think that's the one where I mentioned in one of my reviews that you did it, and people keep writing me, "Uh uh! It says 'Produced by Urge Overkill!"

Well, it would have been "produced" by Urge Overkill in any case, but my end of it I think held up pretty well.

What happened to those guys? They just got crazy egos and went away?

Ehhh, long story. Long and typical story.

But I assume you ended up making up with the Jesus Lizard, or at least David Yow.

Well, David Yow and I are still friends. I mean, the way they were behaving as a band the last few years of their existence I don't think was particularly honorable in that they were making an obvious play for mainstream success, and in the process they sort of neglected or spurned outright their peer group, and it rubbed me wrong at the time. Now it's been a long time since that shit happened and I prefer not to think about that period basically. I kinda feel like they were making a stab at something and it didn't pan out, and I don't think they need to be beaten up over it again and again.

No, no. I'm just glad to hear it. In a recent interview, I saw you say something nice about David Yow and I was like, "Oh! Good! It wasn't permanent then."

I try not to harbor grudges, but there are moments of insult that have an effect on you at the time, especially when it's your good friends. Nobody other than the people involved really will have a perspective on it that's worth considering.

Do you think it's possible for a good mixer or good recording engineer to make crappy songs acceptable?

Well, right now there's a whole industry of making things palatable. Just sort of reducing things to a norm of competence. I have to say like some of my favorite records are total catastrophes, and I don't see the value of trying to make them palatable to people who don't get it. You know?

Uh-huh. What do you mean, "total catastrophes"?

Like just records made by anti-social people under bad conditions where nothing was working properly, and as a result they're freakish records. Like a lot of those really early, really crude punk rock singles have an amazing enthusiasm that comes across partly because they sound fucked up. If everything was tightened up and tidied up and in tune and in time and had impressive lush production, they wouldn't have anything like that sort of urgency that they do. So I feel like these sort of external standards of what is and isn't acceptable just literally don't apply. I mean, the dime bins are full of records that have no mistakes on them - completely error-free records that are utterly unremarkable. I just don't think anybody listens to music that way. I don't think anybody ever evaluates music based on whether or not it's in tune. I've never in my life listened to a record and thought to myself, "Well, I would have liked that if it didn't speed up there." It's just not part of anybody's criteria for listening to music.

Getting back I guess to Shellac here, do you think you'd ever be interested in working in a band with like a lot of instruments? Or are you really into the spare thing?

I'm happy with Shellac. I like being in Shellac a lot and I really don't think I need anything else. And I'm glad Shellac is just the three of us, because it's hard enough to organize the three of us, you know? If we had ten people in the band, we wouldn't get ANYTHING done. And I also feel like, I don't know, I don't really feel like the format is a limitation. I think two people is plenty. Three people is sometimes excessive!

Ha! Messing up the power duo? Hey, have you found that violence in music has lost its appeal at all as you've -

Well, you hear a lot of false bravado, but you don't hear a lot that scares you anymore. Like I haven't heard anything that's as unhinged as like that Void/Faith record or the Negative Approach record or Die Kreuzen records or whatever - you don't hear anything that's that unhinged now. Everything's got some kind of an abstraction applied to it, and I just think that's a phase.

Do you like any death metal?

Not death metal. That stuff's kind of a little too self-absorbed for me. But having said that, I do like some black metal, which is even more self-absorbed. I kinda like Burzum. I like they're an interesting band. Or an interesting guy, whatever. I think his records stand up. Regardless of the circumstances that they were made or conceived under, I think the records stand up.

I agree. I do like him, although I'm not as wild about these little keyboard ones he's making in prison.


But what else can you do when you're in prison?

Exactly. I think he's out now, so who knows what's gonna happen.

What's that?

I think he's out of prison now.

Oh, really? I heard he escaped a while back, but they caught him.

Oh, I don't know about that. Just from the timeline, it seems like he would be out by now. I think he got seven years or something like that.

Yeah. Mayhem's still together.


There's like one original member. I think the rest are all dead. Do you have to go to your show?

Yeah, I should be going pretty quick here.

Okay! Well, thanks so much. So you had read some of my reviews before?

Oh yeah! I've seen your site before. I think it's really funny.

Sorry my Big Black reviews sucked so bad. They're old!

Ah, I don't care about that.

Alright. Did you read the Shellac ones?

I did. I thought those were pretty funny.

I like those Shellac records. That last album you did was really great.

Oh, thanks!

Real good. REAL good! Yeah, make another one like that.

No problem. I'll do what I can.

Alright. Have a good show!



Bye bye.

Reader Comments
Great interview, Mark. Great, great, great interview. Nice work.
hey mark, long time no see. I loved the interview, Albini is a really smart dude i have to say, now I feel even more respect for their music than I already have and I really like that "vagina" part, i don't know why. You didn't mention the Pixies mark, we could've used some dirt you know? Thanks!
thanks for the great interview! After making us believe in love with Big Black, Rapeman, and Shellac, I'm glad to see Steve Albini take time off his busy schedule to talk to you. Off to listen to "Prayer to God" over and over again...
It is weird how your drunk interviews and sober interviews are so different (but each generally good in its own way). You set it up nice to get and keep (the fascinating) S. Albini in thoughtful analysis mode. Almost like he was a band/producer, making the creative decisions, while you, the interviewer, acted merely as a recording engineer of sorts. I don't know how you thought up that approach, but this S. seemed to cotton to it.
a bit of my faith in humanity has been restored by that interview... thank you.

p.s. i just put on burzum's filosofem to squelch that sentiment. (Russell B)
Excellent interview, Prindle. I'm glad--hell, the whole Internet is glad--that you are able to come to these interviews with really good, relevant questions that seem to draw interesting stories and observations out of your subjects. Albini hit the nail on the head there with his comment about nobody caring whether the guitar is a little out of tune or the drummer speeds up. Don't you think? Like, "Uh-oh, Tom Verlaine didn't quite hit that note there. Well, so much for Marquee Moon!" Of course not. You did good, Prindle, like I said.

Which makes me wonder why you chose to spend your entire interview with Billy Zoom licking his pasty white ass with your tongue while he blabbered about God and Christianity and Jesse Jackson and shit. Wasn't it hard to pose those inane softball questions to Mr. Zoom with your tongue firmly engaged in his ass like that? I mean, did you have to repeat yourself from time to time, or anything like that?
That was a really good interview. I enjoyed that alot. Albini sounds like a well clued up guy. That stuff about lying and the subtext and function of language was very well put. I've really gained a little bit of faith in the world, after that intelligent discussion. Bravo. Thaks Mark and thank you Steve.

Heather Whinna
dear mark,

i have recently discovered the search engine technorati. it is late and i am searching the internet for fun. i came across an interview you did with my boyfriend, steve albini, on your website. i would like to start off by saying i found your website very entertaining! the shear amount of interviews you have available is impressive. i will be able to have something new to look at for the next few weeks- so thanks!


i believe that being "hold-up" in the studio for extended periods of time has begun to retard steve. i wish i could say that i can't believe steve would say that i wished that i was married or implied that i might desire to change my name, but unfortunately i can not say that it surprises me, because steve is often times out of his mind. after asking him what he was thinking, he said "i was being funny." i am writing to you because a girl has got to protect her reputation. i am perfectly happy not being legally tied to another person. i have conducted a few weddings myself and i think they are wonderful, but so far the desire has not struck me personally. i am definitely not interested in changing the name my dad gave me, unless of course it gets me out of working for a living! maybe you could work on steve so he will take royalties (that might help me with my amazon wish-list or an $1800 pair of shoes.)

i wish you continued luck with your website! getting people on the phone can be hard and it seems like you have done a great job at it. nice work!

Very nice Steve Albini interview- things like that make me happy about getting older. Some of what he said confirmed my own opinions. At age 36 I've found that like him, I don't listen to or hang out with many newer, younger bands myself anymore, mainly because of the age difference, so it's nice to be able to read great interviews with people I've been following for years such as Steve, Greg Ginn, Derrick Bostrom (from your site) or Robert Pollard, Damien Lovelock of the Celibate Rifles (other great "interviewies").

I interviewed Steve once myself when I was like 21, and I was nervous as hell (still at the "idolizing" age) but it turned out to be a good read in this dumb fanzine I made with my then-girlfriend which lasted 3 issues. In fact this girl was so cold-hearted, she even badmouthed me to Doug Gillard long distance on the phone, with whom I was about to finish "Part 2" of an interview (that I was a terrible person, emotionally abusive, he shouldn't talk to me, blah, blah, blah) and I never found out until years later, why he never got back to me.

It's websites like yours that help prevent the internet from becoming one endless blog about nothing- with office stiffs sitting around wasting millions of megabytes on tiresome political agendas, slow-loading PDF's (the cheapass's alternative to paying for actual website hosting), My Space, their neighbor's loud dog, etc. In fact I'm enjoying your interviews so much it's interfering with watching the NBA playoffs.

Tom Gipson
I really enjoyed this interview. Steve Albini is my all time favorite producer (or whatever title he calls himself--im not too hung up on the semantics). I think my favorite example of his work is on "Comfort" by Failure or Nirvana's "In Utero." Seriously--how the hell does he get drums to sound like that???

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