Shellac started in '92 as an informal collaboration between guitarist Steve Albini and drummer Todd Trainer. Following the release of their first single, the Chicago based Post-Hardcore, minimalist Rock trio brought in bassist Bob Weston to replace Camilo Gonzalez.
At that point, if anyone knew Albini it was not as a musician but as a recording engineer.
Though Albni worked on, by his own estimation, over 1,000 albums there was one that stood above the rest - if only for the notoriety - Nirvana's "In Utero."
Albini, who preferred the term recording engineer to record producer, was at the controls for the group's last studio album. The recording process went well and there were no issues - until the record company listened to the album.
Wanting "Nevermind II," but not hearing that, the management at Geffen Records jumped into action. Yelling at a band doesn't help. The group might get their feelings hurt and jump ship at the first opportunity. So subtle pressure was employed. However, there really are no long term concerns regarding engineers or producers, so Albini got yelled at a lot. In addition, he nearly went bankrupt.
The long and short of it was that despite the tension and rancor, and not because of it, "In Utero" was a big hit. But the experience fueled Albini's long standing distrust of record labels, which he articulated.
In '94, Albini wrote a scathing analysis of how record companies underpay artists and keep them perpetually in-debt, while pocketing huge dollars. That inequity has kept lawyers, for bands and labels, employed for decades.
Fortunately, around that time, Albini was able to establish a long-term relationship with Touch and Go Records.
After spending most of the '80s in Big Black, Albini formed the controversially named Rapeman, after a popular Japanese comic book, in '87. The group issued a couple singles and an EP.
Albini's next group, Shellac, recorded consistently through the mid-90s ("At Action Park" - '94; "The Futurist" - '97; and "Terraform" - 98). The albums were recorded in analog, Albini's preferred medium, and released on both CD and vinyl.
Though initially reluctant to play festivals, the group appeared at the inaugural All Tomorrow's Parties. The '00 event was curated by Mogwai who convinced Shellac to perform. The experience was positive and led to Shellac curating the '02 festival in Camber Sands, England.
Then there was a seven year gap between '00's "1000 Hurts" and "Excellent Italian Greyhound." Then another seven year stretch before the arrival of '14's "Dude Incredible."
The group's fifth album was recorded at Albini's Electrical Audio studios in Chicago. Like its predecessors the set was mastered entirely in the analog domain.
1994 At Action Park
1997 The Futurist
2000 1000 Hurts
2007 Excellent Italian Greyhound
2014 Dude Incredible