The 20th anniversary reissue of In Utero contains an awesome historical document.
September 26, 2013
Dan Martin BuzzFeed Staff
Before Steve Albini produced Nirvana’s In Utero, he wrote them a letter outlining his vision.
“I’m only interested in working on records that legitimately reflect the band’s own perception of their music and existence. If you commit yourselves to that as a tenet of the recording methodology, then I will bust my ass for you.”
Albini is renowned for his lo-fi approach to recording. He pretty much just puts microphones in front of speakers.
“I like to leave room for accidents and chaos. Making a seamless record, where every note and syllable is in place and every bass drum beat is in identical is no trick. Any idiot with the patience and the budget to allow such foolishness can do it. I prefer to work on records that aspire to greater things, like originality, personality and enthusiasm.”
He is also famed for his integrity.
“I do not want and will not take a royalty on any record I record. I think paying a royalty to a producer or engineer is ethically indefensible. The band write the songs. The band play the music. It’s the band’s fans who buy the records. The band is responsible for whether it’s a great record or a horrible record. Royalties belong to the band. I would like to be paid like a plumber. I do the job and you pay me what it’s worth.”
Seriously, it’s like he’s actively trying to get them to pay him less.
“I have to be comfortable with the amount of money you pay me, but it’s your money, and I insist that you be comfortable with it as well. Kurt suggested paying me a chunk which I would consider full payment, and then if you really thought I deserved more, paying me another chunk after you’d had a chance to live with the album for a while. That would be fine, but probably more organisational trouble than it’s worth.”
The letter features in the Super Deluxe Edition of the In Utero reissue to mark the album’s 20th anniversary.
“If a record takes more than a week to make, somebody’s fucking up.”