Steve Albini's Private Letter to Nirvana Appears Online

"If an album takes longer than a week to record, someone's f--king up," says Albini in the letter which convinced Nirvana to record "In Utero" with him.

Steve Albini's Private Letter to Nirvana Appears Online
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The letter in which producer Steve Albini convinced Nirvana to record "In Utero" with him has appeared online.

The band favoured Albini for his work with major underground artists at the time, including Jesus Lizard and Fugazi.

But his work on the album went on to prove controversial, with both Kurt Cobain and label heads disagreeing with the final sound of Albini's mix, resulting in a remix which was released to the public at the time.

In the letter, Albini famously refuses to take royalties on records he produces, instead insisting on a flat rate of pay like a plumber.

"I think paying a royalty to a producer or engineer is ethically indefensible," he writes. "The band write the songs. The band play the music. It's the band's fans who buy the record. The band is responsible for whether it's a great record or a horrible record. Royalties belong to the band."

See the letter in full here - it's an interesting read.

Letter segment #1: Before Steve Albini produced Nirvana's "In Utero," he wrote them a letter outlining his vision.

Letter segment #2: Albini is renowned for his lo-fi approach to recording. He pretty much just puts microphones in front of speakers.

Letter segment #3: He is also famed for his integrity.

Letter segment #4: Seriously, it's like he's actively trying to get them to pay him less.

The photo is the courtesy of Jason Allen/Lab Productions.

15 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    gateway01
    "I have to be comfortable the amount of money you pay me." We need more people like you.
    mrmckaid
    That is just great stuff. So cool for someone to be that honest about things.
    HeavyMetalSonic
    One week? Seriously? I don't understand what it is about grunge / alternative and wanting your music to suck.
    lemmyisgod97
    Sometimes it's just best to plug and play, look at Black Sabbaths first album, recorded in one 12 hour session.
    KerNeL_KLuTcH
    except Sabbath had honed those songs live for quite some time previously, so really not the same thing. Grunge takes from punk in that you want a raw unpolished sound, Butch Vig makes polished layered albums (Nevermind, Gish, Siamese Dreame, etc.) perfect for crossing over but not perfect for keeping "punk cred". Jack Endino who produced "Bleach" and Steve Albini specialize in what I like to call "musical noise", in short they make grit and noise sound good on record.
    SkepsisMetal
    If you take more than a week to sit and play 12/13 songs that you've already written, jammed and practiced to a comfortable degree then you suck - not the music.