Steve Albini Remembered: Pixies, Cloud Nothings, and More React to Death of Legendary Rock Figure

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Steve Albini, May 2007 (Gary Wolstenholme/Redferns)

Figures in the music world and beyond are reacting to the death of Steve Albini. Michael Azerrad, the author of the 1993 biography Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana, wrote on X of the In Utero producer and engineer, “He had a brilliant mind, was a great artist and underwent the most remarkable and inspiring personal transformation.”

Thurston Moore posted a long tribute on social media that reads, in part, “Like the music he adored and devoted his life to – punk and experimental action, suspect and resistant to any semblance of exploitation – Steve Albini was a person of passion and contradiction. He seemed to have a bemused realization of his own staunch judgement towards factionalism, us versus them, the capitalist colonization agenda of the recording industry coexisting with the socialist minded independent music world. He could articulate, from a surprisingly young age, with intelligent and intellectual passion, reasons not to set foot in the manipulative cogs of “major” label indignity. While wholly serious in his analysis he also seemed to be able to write it all off at the end of the day as being alive in an absurd universe. Alongside his set-in-stone scowl was always a genuinely soulful smile.”

PJ Harvey, who recorded Rid of Me with Albini, wrote, “Meeting Steve Albini and working with him changed the course of my life. He taught me so much about music, and life. Steve was a great friend - wise, kind and generous. I am so grateful.”

Albini produced Cloud Nothings’ beloved 2012 album, Attack on Memory, and the Cleveland rock band’s Dylan Baldi paid tribute to the musician on X. “steve touched countless lives and changed mine and many others for the better,” he wrote. “a genuine, singular, principled person. spent the last 40 years helping people make art. there’s no reason for him to be gone and the world is less interesting without him. just a really sad day.”

Speedy Ortiz and Sad13’s Sadie Dupuis wrote on X, “grateful to have seen steve albini play, to have my taste in music shaped by the incredible records he performed & engineered, & for his thoughts on recording and its business, which changed my worldview. getting to meet him & check out electrical was a top 10 moment for me. RIP.”

Lee Spielman worked with Albini on the self-titled debut from his hardcore band, Trash Talk. “RIP Steve Albini,” Spielman posted on X. “The Trash Talk S/T LP was a very raw time for us as a band. You welcomed us in with open arms for that session. I’ll never forget that week. 👑🔊.”

Drew Daniel, of the Soft Pink Truth and Matmos, posted: “I’m saddened to learn of the death of Steve Albini. Like so many, I loved his firebreathing Big Black records as a teenager. I met him briefly at Jason Noble’s memorial service and found him to be a kind and thoughtful person. My thoughts go out to his friends and family.”

Starchild & the New Romantic’s Bryndon Cook also posted a memory of Albini on X: “i once snuck into First Avenue to borrow a keyboard stand, only to stumble on a Shellac soundcheck. Watched Albini, Bob Weston & Todd Trainer rip it. Last year we got to do a bunch of Primavera Fest shows w them & spend some time. Sending love and prayers to Albini Fam & Friends.”

Jon Wurster, the comedian and longtime Superchunk and Mountain Goats drummer, also posted a good Albini story: “Steve was such a good, caring, and funny guy. I will always treasure the night in ‘99 when he took me to Second City to see a show. I walked into the Electrical kitchen at the agreed upon departure time and he looked at my head, smiled and said, ‘Your hair is peak Mellencamp.’ ❤️.”

On Instagram, drummer, actor, and comedian Fred Armisen wrote:

I love Steve so much. We said it more often to each other in recent years. I’m so glad I got to tell him.
He was so funny, all the time. He sent me this text a few days ago:
“I shouldn’t admit this but I don’t get cymbals. Like I can tell the difference between this one and that one but if I’m honest they both sound like cymbals and I don’t care.”
I always loved hearing him say “I don’t care.”
He was such a good friend to me, endlessly.
I admired his work ethic and his warmth. And his opinions on national flags. On everything. I always cherish getting to spend time with him and Heather.
This picture is from a few years ago, in Chicago. I’m really going to miss him. It’s a heavy loss.

“Ugh man, a heartbreaking loss of a legend. Love to his family and innumerable colleagues,” the actor and indie music fan Ejiah Wood shared. “Farewell, Steve Albini.”

The Polyvinyl X account shared, “An unfathomable loss, impossible to fully trace the profound impact he made on all of us, on the sound of music itself.”

Primavera Sound, where Albini and his bands performed regularly, posted, “We have lost a legend, a friend, a member of our family. What are we going to do without you, Steve?” The festival’s account added, “After having welcomed them at 15 editions of the festival, it is impossible for us to imagine a Primavera Sound without him, because no band explains us better than Shellac.”

“RIP to the legend Steve Albini,” the band Health wrote. “Hero to all of us.”

Robin Hatch, who’s toured with Porno for Pyros, Fucked Up, and more, posted: “Steve Albini greatest producer of alternative rock.. the original edgelord. Poker star par excelence & fan of various local vernaculars. Rip king.”

Fucked Up added, “you hated our band and made fun of us while we were recording at your studio but you stood for something honest and fair in music and tried to make it a better place in everything you did and there will never be another one like you.”

Experimental guitarist Bill MacKay wrote, “I so much enjoyed his trail-blazing bands & talent, and recording songs at his great studio. I admired his fierce fight for justice and fairness, and had one unforgettable & hilarious Ramen dinner together. He'll never be forgotten.”

Nick Zanca, the Queens-based producer, composer, and writer known for his work as Mister Lies, also shared kind words for Albini. “his prolificacy, his musical fluidity, his prioritization of equity and staunch opposition to industry status quo are aspirational,” he wrote on X. “us producers should all aspire to the standard he set. time to lift weights to Big Black.”

“Love this man’s recording and all of his bands,” the Ataris posted of Albini. “Sonically his drum sound was one of a kind.” The band also said, “Thank you for your undeniable mark on music and recording.”

In a statement to Rolling Stone, Big Black guitarist Santiago Durango called Albini a “caring and giving person.” He added, “What gets overlooked about Steve is that, when everything else is stripped away, he was simply a decent man. Everything makes sense when Steve is viewed through that lens. He was a loyal and lifelong friend because he was a decent man. He was a much better friend than I deserved. He had a long marriage to Heather because he was a decent man. My heart aches for Heather. He never screwed anyone over because he was a decent man. He was a caring and giving person because he was a decent man. His unexpected passing has left a huge hole in my life.”

And Liturgy shared simply, “Extremely saddened to hear of Steve Albini’s death 💔.”

Tad Doyle, an early Albini collaborator with his band Tad, also kept his tribute brief: “RIP Steve Albini.”

Pixies said the same, “RIP Steve Albini.”

UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 01: STRATFORD REX Photo of SHELLAC and Steve ALBINI, Steve Albini performing on stage (Photo by Naki/Redferns)
UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 01: STRATFORD REX Photo of SHELLAC and Steve ALBINI, Steve Albini performing on stage (Photo by Naki/Redferns)

Along with his studio work for Nirvana and the Pixies, Steve Albini has carved out a place as one of music’s most confrontational artists while fronting Big Black, Rapeman, and Shellac. Here’s a list of his finest moments as a bandleader.

Originally Appeared on Pitchfork