Steve Albini blasts Sonic Youth in new interview

In Utero producer Steve Albini lashes out at Sonic Youth, among other things, in a new interview with GQ Magazine:

GQ: What about bands like Sonic Youth, who signed to a major label with a full adult understanding of the choice they were making.

SA: I don’t know the exact circumstances of Sonic Youth’s decision, so I’m not comfortable saying they did it wrong.

But 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—as opposed to being a quite successful independent band that could have used their resources and influence to extend that end of the culture. They chose to join the mainstream culture and become a foot soldier for that culture’s encroachment into my neck of the woods by acting as scouts.

I thought it was crass and I thought it reflected poorly on them. I still consider them friends and their music has its own integrity, but that kind of behavior—I can’t say that I think it’s not embarrassing for them. I think they should be embarrassed about it.

GQ: How do you think music might be different today if Sonic Youth hadn’t brought all those bands—Bikini Kill, Pavement, Nirvana, to name a few—into the mainstream fold?

SA: I think what they did was take a lot of people who didn’t have aspirations or ambitions and encouraged them to be part of the mainstream music industry. They validated the fleeting notions that these kids had that they might one day be rock stars. And then they participated in inducing a lot of them to make very stupid career moves.

That was a period where the music scene got quite ugly—there were a lot of parasitic people involved like lawyers and managers. There were people who were making a living on the backs of bands, who were doing all the work.

Had Sonic Youth not done what they did I don’t know what would have happened—the alternative history game is kind of silly. But I think it cheapened music quite a bit. It made music culture kind of empty and ugly and was generally a kind of bad influence.

You can read the full interview at, courtesy of GQ.

Posted in NFC news section at on 10-08-2010 @ 9:26 AM (GMT).

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