Steve Albini - Taking a ‘Sonic Break’

May 14, 2024

I am proud to have worked with one of the great studio gurus of our time and have no shame name-dropping him whenever possible. The Frames recorded tracks for the album 'For The Birds' and another EP in his cool Electrical Audio Studio in Chicago in 2000/1. I learned a lot from this experience as you will see below. The photos I took during the sessions below are exclusive, never seen before (not even by the band!).

Steve in the famous Electrical Audio grey overalls

Steve in the famous Electrical Audio grey overalls

We all know Steve Albini recorded many great records including bands I love like The Pixies, Fugazi, Nirvana, Slint, Dirty 3, PJ Harvey, Will Oldham, The Stooges, and Page and Plant. He seemed to be a big hero to the others in the band. I didn’t really do heroes so felt like a little bit of an outlier in that regard. I don't think he wanted to be anyone's hero judging by his non egotistical style and famously strong socialist stance. The most striking thing about him and the way he looked was how not striking he and all of the other workers looked in the studio. Uniquely, everyone who worked there had to wear matching grey overalls in an extension of what he hoped would encourage a communal respect and non-hierarchy within the studio.

He was low key himself and seemed to spend a lot of time carefully and lovingly placing mics in the most unique positions, sometimes on the floor or the wall, and sometimes up to 30 for the drums alone. He loved to keep things analog while recording. I’ll always remember him micing the batter head of the Ludwig bass drum I was using with a tiny mic like the end of piece of string dangling in front of the head (see photo below). This was so novel to me at the time!