Renowned producer, accomplished musician, and notorious crank Steve Albini strikes again! As Stereogum points out, in a recent GQ interview, he had some harsh words for his friends Sonic Youth, who he apparently considers sellouts. And when we took a closer look at the conversation, we were unsurprised to find that they were not the only targets of his contempt. (To be fair, he also expressed approval for a few people and things, including John Peel, The Stooges, and the Internet.) Follow along after the jump, as we enumerate Albini’s most recent hate list, from movies in general to GQ in specific, and let us know whether you think he’s a straight-talking indie hero or a whiny hater.
Sonic Youth selling out
“[A] lot of the things they were involved with as part of the mainstream were distasteful to me. And a lot of the things that happened as a direct result of their association with the mainstream music industry gave credibility to some of the nonsense notions that hover around the star-making machinery. A lot of that stuff was offensive to me and I saw it as a sellout and a corruption of a perfectly valid, well-oiled music scene. Sonic Youth chose to abandon it in order to become a modestly successful mainstream band — as opposed to being a quite successful independent band that could have used their resources and influence to extend that end of the culture. They chose to join the mainstream culture and become a foot soldier for that culture’s encroachment into my neck of the woods by acting as scouts. I thought it was crass and I thought it reflected poorly on them. I still consider them friends and their music has its own integrity, but that kind of behavior — I can’t say that I think it’s not embarrassing for them. I think they should be embarrassed about it.”
“I’m not really interested in participating in mainstream culture. Participating in the mainstream music business is, to me, like getting involved in a racket.”
Music festivals that aren’t All Tomorrow’s Parties
“Very early on in Shellac’s existence we decided we weren’t going to play festivals because they were so unpleasant. And then Barry Hogan who runs ATP contacted us. For the first ATP, we just said ‘No, we don’t do festivals.’ But then we got contacted again by Mogwai, who were curating the second All Tomorrow’s Parties. They convinced us that it would be at least worth an experiment to see if it was a different experience. And it was. They completely changed the festival game. Now the whole world has to operate under the knowledge that there are these cool, curated festivals where everyone is treated well and the experience is a generally pleasant one.”
Bands performing classic albums in full (something that happens to be a central feature of ATP)
“Seeing The Stooges play Fun House was pretty amazing. Seeing them play Raw Power was also great, but Fun House is a very special record for me. But there’s something about this whole recreating an album thing that I’m not that into. I feel like bands should be growing, living, functioning entities and to crystallize a band into a single album, and for that to be a touchstone — I understand it from a fan’s perspective but I also feel like it’s a little bit misleading in terms of the way bands actually function.
Music lawyers and managers
“That was a period where the music scene got quite ugly — there were a lot of parasitic people involved like lawyers and managers. There were people who were making a living on the backs of bands, who were doing all the work.”
“I don’t really like movies. I don’t rate movies as an art form.”
I think fashion is repulsive. The whole idea that someone else can make clothing that is supposed to be in style and make other people look good is ridiculous. It sickens me to think that there is an industry that plays to the low self-esteem of the general public. I would like the fashion industry to collapse. I think it plays to the most superficial, most insecure parts of human nature.”
“I hope GQ as a magazine fails.”