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What Steve Albini was like according to Pablo Giadach

“Hey Steve, how many hours a day do you work?”was the almost ancedotic question that the Chilean musician and producer Pablo Giadach posed to Steve Albini. It was the middle of the 2010s and a call had been opened to attend recording sessions for Nina Anastasia’s new album in France. Thus, Giadach had managed to sign up and learn first-hand about Albini’s working method, recently deceased.

When asked, the American looked at the Chilean and gave an extensive explanation in which he went into great detail. “His response lasted an hour and a half.” -remembers Giadach on the phone with Worship from his Lautaro Studio. It was an explanation like a philosophy of life. And well, he finished his explanation and the assistant who was with him tells him: ‘You could have said that you worked eight hours a day.’”

Pablo Giadach

Today focused on his project The Cruel Visionswith whom last year he opened for The Cure during his Show In Santiago, Giadach remembers that meeting with Albini. He is still surprised by the extensive technical background that he showed. “He was extremely brilliant, he had a really brutal level of technical knowledge. And besides, she was very accessible. In a world where everything is so commercialized, it’s amazing that he shared his knowledge like it was nothing. He didn’t keep secrets, he didn’t keep tricks. It was totally outward and all in the name of making the old-fashioned technique endure.”

During his lifetime, Albini added an extensive list of works as a producer, which includes productions alongside Pixies (the classic Pink Surfer), The Jesus Lizard, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, PJ Harvey, among many others. When talking about his ethics, one tends to cite a legendary four-sided typewritten letter, which he sent from Evanston, Illinois, to the offices of the DGC record company. in sunny California, during November 1992. It was his response to the request of Nirvana, then at the pinnacle of their fame, to take over the sessions for their imminent new album (In Utero1993).

Nirvana in 1993

In that letter that has just been spread on Nirvana’s social networks, Albini made it clear that for him the important thing, before anything else, was the music. “Many contemporary engineers and producers look at recording as a ‘project’ and the band is just one element of the ‘project’. (…) I consider the band the most important thing, as the creative entity that generated both the personality and style of the band and the social entity that exists 24 hours a day.”

There he detailed his approach: working with the band, without artifice. “I don’t consider it my responsibility to tell you what to do or how to play. I’m quite willing to let my opinions be heard (if I think the band is making a big progress or making a big mistake, I consider it part of my job to tell them), but if the band decides to pursue something, I’ll see what happens. make”.

Giadach remembers that Albini maintained his position of focusing the musical production work only limited to the band’s record. He did not seek to intervene much further. “There is that school that the producer makes and breaks, there are even some who even replace members of the band to record… and this guy was extremely critical of that. In fact, he hated being told that he was a producer. And deep down I identified with that a lot; I came there looking for that a bit too, because I come from the world of music, I didn’t study sound.”

“He simply cared that the band had all the conditions to do what they had to do and felt comfortable.” -adds Giadach-. He was very quiet, obviously he had the same level of ego, but deep down he was well controlled. He wasn’t a guy who went around with the idea that I produced Nirvana, or Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, no, he was totally very low profile. He became aware of how low profile he was.”

Steve Albini in his Chicago studio NATKIN/GETTY IMAGES

In some way, Giadach made sense of the way Albini approached his work, contrary to what is happening today. “Today there is this whole production school of hyper-perfection, which becomes boring. Like everything sounds the same, you go to YouTube and they tell you how the hi-hat, the snare, I don’t know what should sound. But he had the impression that the band did what he had to do, not change anything.

And he illustrates it with an anecdote. “I remember asking him: What happens if you get an extremely out-of-tune vocalist? He told me: ‘Well, his problem. That is, he will listen to what he recorded and think that he has to improve.’ Deep down, I told you that I’m not going to get involved in his art.”

In your opinion, did Steve Albini go to school here?

I don’t know if it’s as much as in the studio, because honestly I find that here a lot happens that the name of the producer is almost more important than the name of the band and I find that strange. Obviously, the guy produces a lot of admiration, due to his level of knowledge. And apart from the sound, all of his works have a super-defined line, that is, he is not someone who varied so much either. He let the band vary, not him. I do think that he did a lot of school here on a musical level, especially in the 90s, there were a lot of bands that were like that punk wave that was a little more cerebral. I think it was more that.

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