Published Oct 06, 2010It's no secret that sound documentarian Steve Albini has a bone to pick with mainstream music culture. This, of course, is the guy that wrote the damning The Problem with Music essay back in the '90s, dissecting and criticizing the major-label model of deceiving indie bands into multimillion dollar deals. In a confounding move, however, the Shellac member has recently called out indie forefathers Sonic Youth for their past dalliance with devil, a.k.a. their former label DGC records.
A recent interview in GQ [via Pitchfork] finds Albini quite critical of Thurston Moore and co.'s decision to abandon the underground for the big time. Oddly, it took him 20 years to rip the band apart.
Here's a bit of what Albini had to say:
A lot of the things they were involved with as part of the mainstream were distasteful to me. And a lot of the things that happened as a direct result of their association with the mainstream music industry gave credibility to some of the nonsense notions that hover around the star-making machinery. A lot of that stuff was offensive to me and I saw it as a sellout and a corruption of a perfectly valid, well-oiled music scene. Sonic Youth chose to abandon it in order to become a modestly successful mainstream band.
Albini goes on to say that a lot of artists were duped into big business because of Sonic Youth, eventually stating that the group, whom he still considers to be personal friends of his, should be embarrassed of their actions.
"They validated the fleeting notions that these kids had that they might one day be rock stars," he said. "And then they participated in inducing a lot of them to make very stupid career moves."
It should be noted that Sonic Youth returned to the underground via Matador Records for 2009's The Eternal.
While the notorious crank isn't entirely incorrect on the matter, he does believe the Internet age to be much more beneficial to bands these days than during the recording industry's indie-act-poaching heyday.
"This is a terrific time to be in a band. Every band has access to the entire world by default. I know quite a few bands that have been able to establish themselves internationally based on nothing other their web presence. It's an incredible tool."
You can read the full interview up on GQ here.