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why steve albini rocks

narlus

Eastcoast Softcore
Staff member
Nov 7, 2001
24,659
26
behind the viewfinder
Quote:
how often do you know when a record you are making is going to be really effing great?


Another very good question.

There is a sort of clinical distance I have to maintain as an engineer that precludes forming an opinion about the music I'm working on. If I'm getting wrapped up in the music like a fan, then I'm not paying proper attention to the technical side, the way the equipment is behaving, etc.

I've used this analogy before, but I like it, so I'll use it again: While the recording is underway, I'm like a gynecologist, and it would be inappropriate for me to be getting turned-on by the vagina I'm working on at the moment. I need to have a different relationship with the vagina.

Imagine for a moment that I did allow myself to harbor opinions about how good a record was while I was making it. Two bands come into the studio, one of which I really like, and one whose music I dislike. It wouldn't be fair to that second band for me to let my distaste for their music affect the job I did, and that would be inevitable.

Also, all records aren't being made (ought not to be made) to suit me alone. My tastes are really [censored] up, and if I tried to make records to suit myself, rather than the band's tastes, I would make a lot of freakish records that nobody liked and didn't suit the band.

So, in order to maintain a professional level of concentration on the task at hand, and to allow the band to make a record that represents them accurately, I try not to even think about whether or not I like the record. Having said that, sometimes everybody can tell that a record is going to be awesome anyway, and of the records I've worked on that ended up being really great, the majority of them showed their greatness in the first couple of hours of work.

If there is something unique and subtle about a band that makes them great, then sometimes it takes longer exposure to become aware of it, but in general everybody can tell right away.

Quote:
any surprises, times you have thought the record sucked but heard it later and thought it was great? how often in general do you hear the records you've made after you're done?


I probably get to hear 10 percent of the records I work on after everything wraps. Usually they sound about like I remember them, but I have often been surprised that an opinion I held at the time of the session (the guitar is too loud, the vocals are too quiet, this song is a turkey...) end up being completely incorrect. For this reason I am not the least bit insistent when the band and I disagree on a matter of taste. I know for sure that I am fallible, and I know the band is more familiar with their own music than I am. When in doubt, do it their way.

I did an album in the 90s for the band Bush, after they had had a couple of big hits already. While we were working on their second album, they kept pursuing a particular song that I thought was a the weakest and most derivative of the whole set of songs we were working on. A complete dog. Whenever they asked my opinion, I would admit that this particular song struck me as disposable, and they should concentrate on other stuff.

In the end, they did a version they liked, which I still thought was a turkey, and the song "Swallowed" was released as the first single from the album.

It was also their first Number One hit single. I apparently know nothing about what makes for hit records.

Gavin Rossdale, singer of the band, forgave me enough to invite me to his wedding to Gwen Stefani, where my girlfriend was able to pocket all kinds of "Gwen&Gavin" monogrammed trinkets, none of which have yet made it to eBay.
there's an entire Q&A thread on some poker-based board, w/ Steve fielding random questions. at least i think it's Steve.

http://archives1.twoplustwo.com/showflat.php?Cat=0&Number=11034555
 

narlus

Eastcoast Softcore
Staff member
Nov 7, 2001
24,659
26
behind the viewfinder
Quote:
Who have you worked with that you felt had the best understanding of recording?


Excellent question.

I think any band has a pretty good handle on things by their third album or so, and they can start to anticipate the technical considerations. Bands with recording engineers in them are a little quicker in that regard. Neurosis and the New Year are probably the most studio-savvy bands I've worked with, in that they often have pretty specific studio techniques in mind for individual songs.
shout out for Mr Rep.
 

narlus

Eastcoast Softcore
Staff member
Nov 7, 2001
24,659
26
behind the viewfinder
another gem:
Quote:
I think that the past 10 years give or take have seen really [censored] music. Mostly just brainwashed junk where nobody seems to stand out.


Nothing ever stands out. You have to look for anything you might like. Clearly you have given up looking.

Quote:
Tell me what you think of this argument since you are one that has been in the buisiness for the past while.


I think you're a defeatist and you are destined not to enjoy music. If you wait for other people to thrust music under your nose, you'll be listening to nothing but crap for a long while, because that's what gets thrust at us. Music is not a spectator sport.
 

narlus

Eastcoast Softcore
Staff member
Nov 7, 2001
24,659
26
behind the viewfinder
the hits keep coming:
Quote:
I think Private Dancer is a great song. Do you see a problem with that?


Do you ever get a song stuck in your head? It happens to most people. Some little ditty or the memorable part of a hit song or a carpet company jingle, you try to go to sleep and there it is, doot-doot-doo-ing away in the back of your mind. Super annoying.

Have you also noticed how the song "Private Dancer" by Tina Turner never ever gets stuck in your head, no matter how many times you've been forced to hear it? That's because "Private Dancer" is so formless and hideous that there isn't even enough of a tune there to get stuck.

"Private Dancer" is the absolute zenith of the art of 80s schlock. There's a sort of synthetic rhythm, and some schmeer of digital drama provided by the Yamaha DX7 keyboard, but no actual music. On top of it all, a creaking, tuneless yowl of a vocal, rattling up from the guts of a parchment-skinned old woman trying to sexy at you. Hideous.

So, "Private Dancer" makes the perfect palate-cleanser. Whenever you have a song stuck in your head, force yourself to mentally trudge through the song "Private Dancer," at least as much as you can remember. It also helps to imagine the video of a once-stunning, now-cartoonish Tina Turner, the last of the pain pills and red wine finally down her throat, heaving her clattering bones around the soundstage trying to sexy.

Run that through there for twenty seconds, and it's better than Drano. It clears-out whatever was stuck and leaves on its own, leaving no trace behind.
 

H8R

Cranky Pants
Nov 10, 2004
13,975
34
We go halfway across the country to record there. It's worth it every time. He is a pure professional and very much a gentleman.
 

H8R

Cranky Pants
Nov 10, 2004
13,975
34
And get de-luxe tattoos and have burgers named after you, it seems.
Eh. Not me. I have one tattoo. I did it myself when I was 16 with a cut guitar string and a bottle of ink. It sucks.

:D