Producer / Engineer STEVE ALBINI On Analog Recording - "There Is Nothing Today You Can Use As An Equivalent Digital Master Tape That You Can Put On A Shelf And Will Still Be There In 20 Or 50 Years"

July 28, 2011, 9 years ago

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Robert Gray at recently caught up with producer/engineer STEVE ALBINI, known for his work on CHEAP TRICK, NIRVANA and THE PIXIES. An excerpt from the interview is available below.

UG: Do you tend to favor analog gear over digital?

Albini: "I do use analog equipment primarily because that is what I think gives me the best results. But I do have a lot of technical and philosophical problems with the whole digital recording thing. The best obstacle to digital recording for me is - and for me it is an insurmountable one - that my principle job as a recording engineer is to make a recording. That is to make something that will survive as a record of what the band were about as their creative expression. And there is nothing today you can use as an equivalent digital master tape that you can put on a shelf and will still be there in 20 or 50 years. There is no digital platform that has survived that long. There is no storage method that could be used that would be that robust. And there is no inkling that software which is current and contemporary and that can play music files from today, will still exist in fifty or a hundred years time even if the files should survive."

UG: You dislike being credited as a producer on recordings, why is that? You’ve been quoted as saying that putting producers in charge of recordings often destroys those recordings.

Albini: "I don’t consider myself a producer because that is a job description. To me, a producer is someone who is responsible for all the aesthetic decisions that are made during the making of a record. Like how the record sounds, what songs are on it and how the music is presented; they’re all production decisions. But I don’t make those decisions for the records I work on. That is the responsibility of the clients and bands I work with. So in an absolute sense, the bands that I work with are producing their own records. I am an engineer and by that I mean I take care of the technical side of the recording so that whatever the aspirations of the band are, I will solve the technical problems and find a pathway in the studio to get to the end point of what they’re imagining."

UG: A number of years back Cheap Trick hired you to re-record their classic Tom Werman produced In Color album (audio clip below). What is that album yet to see the light of day?

Albini: "It was done as a kind of a personal quest for them. They had reservations about that record from the beginning and they always had at the back of their mind, the notion that if they were ever in a position where they could do a version of that album that suited them a little bit more, then they would. I don’t blame them for trying to exorcise that demon after all those years, but I also don’t blame them for not commercially releasing it because that record does have a life of its own and has its own adherence. And it is a classic record and so I can understand not wanting to tamper with that in the public consciousness by releasing a competitive version. One small effect that came about out of re-making that record, was the fact that they now have versions of all those songs that are now 100% theirs. Where they control and have the rights to the masters. So for example, if somebody wants to license one of those songs, say for something like Guitar Hero or Rock Band or something like that, they can use that version; one of the newer versions and don’t need to have to the pay anyone else the privilege of using their own music. I consider that a small victory for the artist."

Click here for the complete interview.

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