Steve Albini talks “cultural ignorance,” Odd Future, more in new interview

Back in October, Steve Albini took to Twitter to talk about his “role in inspiring ‘edgelord’ shit" with "things I said and did from an ignorant position of comfort and privilege" that were "clearly awful." MEL magazine just published a new interview with Albini where writer Zaron Burnett III asked him about some specifics from his past.

One of the first questions was about Albini's post-Big Black band naming themselves Rapeman. "That was an inexcusable choice that band made," Albini told MEL, talking about how it came from learning about Japanese rape manga culture. "You had these sort of rape fantasies being articulated as a superhero [comic], which is simultaneously utterly repellent and fascinating," he continued. "That was the frame of mind that we were in when we chose that name. Obviously, it’s the product of decades of repression and misogyny being expressed through a different cultural tradition. But for us Americans, the manga just landed on our couch. But I’m not saying that by way of excusing that choice."

Albini also admitted to MEL that he "was deaf to a lot of women’s issues at the time, and that’s on me," continuing, "Within our circles, within the music scene, within the musical underground, a lot of cultural problems were deemed already solved — meaning, you didn’t care if your friends were queer. Of course women had an equal place, an equal role to play in our circles. The music scene was broadly inclusive. So for us, we felt like those problems had been solved. And that was an ignorant perception."

Later in the interview, Steve talked to MEL about the actively confrontational, shocking nature that he and his early bands pursued. "In our circles, nothing was off limits. So, it took awhile for me to appreciate that using abusive language in a joking fashion was still using abusive language. And it was genuinely shocking when I realized that there were people in the music underground who weren’t playing when they were using language like that and who weren’t kindred spirits. They were, in fact, awful, and only masquerading as intellectuals. That was one of many wake-up moments."

MEL also asked him about the 2011 message board tirade against Odd Future where he used the n-word. "I’ll be honest," he said. "That [shuttle experience] was a single and extreme scenario where young kids who were really full of themselves were behaving like assholes. My articulation of that whole experience was inexpertly rendered. That’s probably the best way that I can put it. I wrote my account of the afternoon up quickly, without much consideration, and I can appreciate how somebody who’s unfamiliar with me, with Odd Future and with the ideas being brought out in the subtext would be responding to seeing that word in print. And I appreciate that. That was incorrect." He added, "They were behaving atrociously, and I was simply describing their behavior and language, but I did it in a way that portrayed my own cultural ignorance."

There's lots more. Read the whole interview at MEL.