Prolific record producer and engineer Steve Albini is known for being outspoken about the music industry’s exploitation of artists, but he doesn’t hold back when being asked about other topics, either. Oxbow frontman Eugene Robinson recently interviewed Albini for his newsletter’s “Five Easy Pieces” feature, in which he posed five questions unrelated to music. While being asked about his “Keep/Toss list” of celebrities, Albini took the opportunity to take down podcast host Joe Rogan and media company Barstool Sports, who he decried for making “trash garbage.”
Albini began by criticizing transgressive art that is simply being used as “a veneer” to “justify being a fucking creep.” Name-checking Vice (co-founded by Gavin McInnes, who later founded neo-fascist organization the Proud Boys), he called the media company “a parade of gawkers reveling in whatever misery they can observe from an ironic distance. Fuck that shit completely.”
He then aimed his sights at Joe Rogan and Barstool:
“Rogan, Barstool, all the anti-woke comics, just fuck them all in the eye. It’s trash garbage and I want it all to fail. What if all the stupid shit your racist neighbor you can’t stand said was typed up and put on a blog? Nope, still trash, still fuck it. I want them all out looking for work. Into the chipper with all of it.”
“The older I get the less certain I am of some things, the more obvious others seem. One that has become clear over time is that nobody deserves your attention, you dole it out and you can decide who deserves it,” Albini later said, while speaking more broadly. “The idea that we can remove the artist from the art means that art isn’t communicating anything after all, it’s just decoration, an amusement. I refuse to look or listen that way.”
At a bare minimum, Rogan deserves criticism for giving The Joe Rogan Experience guests like the aforementioned Gavin McInnes, nutjob conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, and far-right commentator Milo Yiannopoulos a platform to spread their toxic beliefs. It’s telling that Spotify didn’t make some of his most controversial episodes available on the streaming platform after signing Rogan to a massive $100 million deal last year. Previously, he had announced his entire podcast catalog would be available on Spotify.
Meanwhile, Barstool Sports has become infamous as a self-described “sports and smut” media company decrying political correctness. In particular, founder Dave Portnoy has come under fire for casually making rape jokes and flippant racist comments, while also encouraging followers to attack female reporters on social media when they criticize the site.
Known for working with Nirvana, PJ Harvey, Pixies, and many more, Albini most recently engineered Cloud Nothings’ latest album The Shadow I Remember.