STEVE ALBINI Reveals Some NIRVANA Studio Secrets

Despite not being a Nirvana fan prior, Steve Albini still worked with the band for their 1993 album In Utero and things went extremely well. In a new interview with Louder, Albini talked a little about how frontman Kurt Cobain got some of his tones and which pieces of gear he gravitated toward.


“He used a couple of Univox Hi Flyer guitars — they were off-brand Mosrite copies, a Fender Mustang and a Veleno guitar I had brought from Chicago and re-strung lefty. He had a couple of amps, a Randall Switchmaster and a Fender Quad Reverb that he mostly used. The Quad had a couple of broken tubes, so its overdrive sound was really raspy and unpredictable. He liked that sound and it featured on pretty much every song.”

Albini also touched on having the follow up Nirvana’s genre-defining 1991 record Nevermind, saying it really wasn’t his or the band’s problem. It was all on the labels and having to post similar sales numbers.

“No, I can say pretty frankly that neither the band nor I felt any pressure while making the record. The pressure was all on the industry people, the people who were terrified of losing their status, influence, and income if the record wasn’t a success. The band knew they had a good record in them, I knew they were doing a great job in the studio. We all knew it sounded great.

“After they finished, those frightened little people started trying to influence them, tried very hard to convince them they’d made a mistake and the record wasn’t actually good. When that didn’t work, they mounted a kind of campaign to smear the record in the press, to put additional pressure on the band to change their minds. I know this because I was getting the brunt of the complaints and I was hearing as much from journalists who called me for comment.

To their credit, the record survived intact and the version that made it into the stores is precisely the record Nirvana wanted to make. I think their perseverance was laudable and unique, and they should get all the credit for how that record came out.”

So there you go – now all you need to do is write legitimately good songs and you’ve got yourself a recipe for… success? That’s on you.

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