MK: Steve shuns the title of producer and identifies instead as an engineer, a word that in my experience accurately describes what he does in the studio. He sets up the equipment so bands can try to capture whatever sounds they’ve described to him, he helps to deal with various technical matters, and so on. He does all the stuff an engineer does, and he does it masterfully. But it’s admittedly more complicated than that. Some of the routine technical things he does, his choices for mics and how to place them, the way he designed the rooms in his studio–a lot of things like that have contributed to the “Albini sound,” which people could already identify by the time we started to make records. I remember back then saying–and this was a few years before we first met him–that we wanted our drums and guitars to sound like what we heard on a lot of records he had made. And so we for example started using microphones—shitty version of microphones–that got us close to his sound. I guess it wasn’t his sound alone. We also loved the way those later Talk Talk records sound. But the point is that we had already internalized what we thought of as the Steve Albini sound before we first recorded with him. And when that moment did come, we were sort using Steve as engineer to help us get a sound that he had helped to engineer in a larger artistic sense.
MK: I liked both writing music for Hell House and the back and forth we had with the director, George Ratliff. I feel compelled say to that we never intended to release that soundtrack as a standalone record. The record label associated with the DVD company that released the movie did that, and if we had our reservations we didn’t say no, although I’m not sure we actually could’ve said no, so maybe we just took the path of least resistance. The details are cloudy. Anyway, had we known that there was a possibility for a soundtrack when we recorded the music for the various scenes of the movie, we would’ve spent much more time creating versions of those songs that could’ve stood up to a pure listening experience–we would’ve stretched out some of the songs, tried to make them more dynamic, whatever. As it is, all of the songs on the record are entirely customized to the scenes in the movie. So I don’t know. I actually have some ambivalence about that soundtrack when it’s separate from the movie. But the movie itself was pure pleasure to work on. And if the right movie came along we’d be into doing something like that again. Did I find it as rewarding as writing songs? It was easier, but I guess not as rewarding. Finishing and feeling good about a song is one of the most rewarding things I can imagine doing.