Thurston Moore pays tribute to Steve Albini as “a stick of dynamite in shredded low-top sneakers”

Thurston Moore has paid tribute to the late Steve Albini in a lengthy X/Twitter thread, calling him “a stick of dynamite in shredded low-top sneakers”.

The former Sonic Youth bandmember took to social media to share his memories of the legendary musician and engineer, who passed away yesterday (May 8) due to a heart attack.

Moore began his statement by writing: “Like the music he adored and devoted his life to – punk and experimental action, suspect and resistant to any semblance of exploitation – Steve Albini was a person of passion and contradiction.”

The musician went on to praise Albini for his ability to “articulate, from a surprisingly young age, with intelligent and intellectual passion, reasons not to set foot in the manipulative cogs of “major” label indignity,” adding: “While wholly serious in his analysis he also seemed to be able to write it all off at the end of the day as being alive in an absurd universe. Alongside his set-in-stone scowl was always a genuinely soulful smile.”


Moore recalled the day he first heard of Albini when meeting Byron Coley and Jimmy Johnson from Forced Exposure in NYC. The duo were interviewing Sonic Youth for their zine, where Moore noted their “fascination” with Albini, who “immediately proved himself to be as vociferous and cutting and acerbic and hilarious as they were.”

The meeting with Albini, who was visiting NYC with his band Big Black, “sparked off a life-long camaraderie between us goons, along with so many other self-made wildly-opinionated minds – Gerard Cosloy, Lydia Lunch et al – regardless of whatever personal ups-and-downs would occur throughout the subsequent decades. Steve began writing for FE with Big Black and SY sharing stages and kipping on apartment floors together while crisscrossing the planet (hats off to Carlos van Hifjte in Eindhoven.)”


Moore also referenced Albini’s infamous disagreement with Sonic Youth for signing with major label Geffen in 1990, writing: “He would become utterly disenchanted at SY for signing on with Geffen in 1990 considering it an abandonment of principle. Of course, we’d argue this; the transparent accounting and health care offered by a corporate label versus the artistic freedom of an independent label where day-to-day operations could, many times, be a mystery. His analogies of a recording engineer not being any more important than a plumber came across as certainly endearing.

“But Steve was not a plumber,” he continued. “He was an artist, a musician, a recording engineer, a high functioning decoder allowing for a plethora of poker winnings and pool table mastery. He loved the clean, solid, stylish simplicity of a classic Zippo lighter.”

Moore praised Albini’s ability to work with “be it Whitehouse or Nirvana – was an authentic visionary, a person alive with the delight of creative impulse. And no matter how many times he’d sign off his written and oral missives with a middle finger raised high in the air he seemed to absolutely love the world and its people.”

He also reminisced on Albini’s powerful engineering sound, saying: “He was always ready to throw down. His music, his guitar style, his amp settings, they were all primal attacks, and they were all with a huge heart of love behind the machine, well-oiled and assured. Steve seriously listened, studied, watched.”


Moore concluded his tribute by writing: “A huge, huge light, a stick of dynamite in shredded low-top sneakers, skintight ripped dungarees and a torn Rudimentary Peni t-shirt in our micro-community of marginalized music has moved on. Yesterday’s news was a shock, heartbreaking, we will truly miss him here.”

Several musicians have written up their own tributes, including Jarvis Cocker, PJ Harvey, and Dave Grohl.