Oor Stevo

"If a record takes longer than a week to make, somebody's fucking up." Steve Albini.


Albini is a hero of all of ours. The records he produces are usually the highlight of the band's back catalogue, except he won't take credit as a producer. But I think he's way off the mark with this quote, a post-script on the letter he wrote to Nirvana pitching his take on their third album, and not just because I'm friends with Andrew Gardiner.

I just think its an ultra-limited way of conceiving of when the 'making of' a record starts and stops. We're not all The Magic Band; we don't all spend 6 months rehearsing in an empty house and then cut the record in four hours.

Thing is, I can say that, because I've been that soldier. When I was in Bruised Pilgrim, we did spend 6 months rehearsing and then record the album in a weekend; and it's an album I'm massively proud of.

The story doesn't stop there, because the album took about a year and a half to be mixed (including time before Andrew got around to it).  I don't think this bucks Albini's point, in fact it adds urgency to it. The reason it took so long to be mixed is because of fuck -ups in the recording process, largely poor equipment; the snare and the poppy bass guitar being the worst culprits, but there was a huge amount of automation that had to be very carefully engineered by Andrew in his mixing suite. Those corrections took a lot of time and could have been avoided by getting it right at source. The album could have been done in its entirety, in a week.

But what about the song writing? the rehearsal time itself? Does that not count? In terms of the albums I've made, most are home recorded, and once you include the years of material that went into that record, 'a week' is a ludicrously narrow view of what the production process is. If Albini is talking about punk bands, that cut their teeth live, and capturing their raw performance, then you have to include all the gigs they've played in order to get to that point. It's still not a week.

Making music is not necessarily about live performance any more. there s no hard and definite line between song-writing, production, and post-production. It can all feedback into everything else. Maybe making an album on my own is still within Albini's conception of 'something going wrong', and maybe I'm reading too much into the words he wrote 20 years ago, and maybe he's even changed his mind in that time. But the quote is too seductive, too ballsy a mission statement not to pick an argument with.

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