Steve Albini Reveals How Nirvana’s In Utero Recording Sessions Were Kept a Secret

"I booked the studio on my account under the pseudonym the 'Simon Ritchie Band,' which was of course Sid Vicious’ real name"

Steve Albini In Utero sessions Nirvana Kurt Cobain secret Minnesota studio pseudonym
Steve Albini (photo by Freekorps via Wikimedia Commons) and Kurt Cobain (photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)

    Legendary recording engineer and producer Steve Albini has opened up about the historic recording sessions with Nirvana that produced the band’s final album In Utero. Speaking with NME, Albini revealed the lengths he and the band went to in order to keep the recording sessions secret.

    “I had to do everything I could to keep it under wraps to make sure that we didn’t get overrun by fans and the added nonsense,” Albini said. This included booking the studio in a remote location under a pseudonym inspired by the Sex Pistols.

    It was 1993, and Nirvana had become global superstars due to the success of 1991’s Nevermind. Albini — who had already built up a reputation for himself as an engineer and member of the punk rock outfit Big Black — had never met the band prior to their working together, but knew that he would need to find a secluded place for them to focus on the task at hand. He landed on Pachyderm Studios, around 40 miles from Minneapolis in the forests of Minnesota.


    “It was far enough away from anybody that the band knew socially, and we wouldn’t have a fucking TV crew out front every day or any drug dealers trying to do business,” Albini explained. “We had to make sure that word didn’t get out.”

    Continuing, Albini described the lengths he went to in order to keep the session from gaining too much publicity. “I didn’t really want to trust [the studio] with the secret, so I booked the studio on my account under the pseudonym the ‘Simon Ritchie Band,’ which was of course Sid Vicious’ real name,” Albini said. “Until the flight cases started arriving from the cartage company the day before we started, nobody knew… even the people who owned the studio didn’t know that Nirvana was going to be recording there.”

    Beyond the secrecy, Albini claims that there was nothing else “out of the ordinary” with the sessions. “I mean, apart from [Nirvana] being extremely famous,” he said. “That was the only thing that was weird about it.”


    Albini discussed more in the interview, touching on the legacy of In Utero, and even sharing a story in which a young, then-unknown Kurt Cobain took a piece of his smashed guitar off the stage of a Big Black show. Read the full interview at NME.

    Outside of music, Albini has made a name for himself recently in a whole new endeavor: professional poker. Last fall, he beat out 773 players and won $196,089 in prize money for a World Series of Poker event.

    In other Nirvana news, a guitar Cobain smashed (perhaps inspired by Albini?) during the Nevermind tour was recently sold for $595,900, which was 10 times more than the auction estimate. Meanwhile, former-Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl just hit the road again with Foo Fighters, featuring their new drummer Josh Freese.


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