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Studiophile: Remembering Steve Albini

| May 9, 2024

Steve Albini (photo via Electrical Audio)

Audio engineer, musician, and studio owner Steve Albini passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday night (May 7). His death is a terrible loss not only to his family, colleagues, and friends but also to so many studio engineers and music fans who loved his production and passion. His extensive recording resume included groundbreaking bands like Nirvana, The Jesus Lizard, the Pixies, and PJ Harvey. Most importantly, though, he was never too big to work with small local indie bands.

His relationship with IE was complicated. We asked him for interviews for years, but he declined, once declaring, “Why don’t you call Enuff Z’Nuff?” before he hung up. We reminded him of that conversation in 2023, and he seemed amused that we remembered the calls and reminded us of the “Curse of the Cover of IE.”

Although it is an unpopular opinion, we were never huge fans of his studio production. It didn’t matter in the big picture — his work ethic was second to none, and his availability to local musicians was legendary. Musicians could still book a day with Steve Albini at an incredibly affordable rate. Recording was a labor of love.

Most of all, we admired him for his defense of local working musicians everywhere, his defense of democracy against fascism, his humanity, and his sense of humor. In an interview with the Guardian last year, he explained he’d reassessed his past and come around from being the abrasive Albini of the ’80s — and abrasive he was.

It goes without saying what a terrible loss his passing is. The outpouring of love from fans and clients for Albini online is stunning. No doubt he wouldn’t have liked the extra attention. He essentially quit Twitter in 2023, not liking the changes made on the Elon Musk-owned platform. Rest in power, Albini. There will never be another like you.

-John Vernon

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Category: Columns, Featured, File, Studiophile, Weekly

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