R.I.P. Steve Albini

A physical-ed style t-shirt with "Shellac Tech" printed on the front
Still have this from at a Shellac show in the mid-90s where I briefly met Mr. A

What an utter bummer to hear that Steve Albini has passed away.

Like so many others, I’ve been a fan of Albini for his work with Nirvana, The Pixies, PJ Harvey, — even Cheap Trick!

But equally important, Albini has been an inspiration to me ever since I read “The Problem with Music.” His staunch defense of music making against the music business has been incredibly influential to me as I embarked on my own creative pursuits, first in music and then later in film.

Albini’s integrity and willingness to call out deeply exploitative practices in the music business was a much-needed (and sobering) counterpoint to everyone who has ever wanted to “make it” in the industry. He proved that you could make great art, pay the bills, and act ethically with your collaborators and audience.

Even more remarkably, Albini continued to inspire with his later public atonement for some of the terrible things he said in the past.

What an incredible evolution.

I met Steve Albini once after a Shellac show in NYC in the mid-90s.

I was in a band at the time and it was my dream to someday record with him. After the show, while the band was onstage packing up their instruments, I managed to get his attention.

Steve came to the edge of the stage and listened patiently as I gushed about how much I appreciated his attitude and his work and that I hoped to record with him one day. I was just another dorky fanboy and he was probably exhausted from the show, with every right to blow me off.

Instead, he wrote his number on a piece of paper and gave it to me.

”Call me and we can talk more,” he said.

I was walking on air for days after that. I could call Steve Albini and maybe even work with him!

My band never got to the point where we were good enough to record with someone like Steve. But even after I transitioned to film years later I always held out the hope that one day I’d get to work with him in some capacity. I’m sad that will never happen now, but I’m grateful for all that he did to benefit art and artists.

May his spirit and ethos live on.