Shellac (band)

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Shellac performing live in Hamburg, Nov. 1, 2014
Shellac performing live in Hamburg, Nov. 1, 2014
Background information
OriginChicago, Illinois, United States
Years active1992–present
MembersTodd Trainer
Bob Weston
Steve Albini
WebsiteOfficial website

Shellac is an American noise rock band from Chicago, Illinois, composed of Steve Albini (guitar and vocals), Bob Weston (bass guitar and vocals) and Todd Trainer (drums and vocals) and formed in 1992.

They have been classified as post-hardcore[1][2] and math rock, but describe themselves as a "minimalist rock trio."


Shellac formed in Chicago, Illinois, in 1992 as an informal collaboration between guitarist Steve Albini and drummer Todd Trainer. Former Naked Raygun bassist Camilo Gonzalez sat in on early rehearsals and played on one song on Shellac's first single before permanent bassist Bob Weston joined.

Shellac has a distinctive, minimalist sound based on asymmetric time signatures, repetitive rhythms, an angular guitar sound, and both Albini's and Weston's surreal, bitingly sarcastic lyrics. Songs typically do not have traditional verse/chorus/verse structure and the arrangements are sparse, to the point where some describe them as "amelodic". Shellac's signature sound is often associated with their enthusiasm for vintage Travis Bean guitars, a rare brand of aluminium-necked instruments, and the Interfax "Harmonic Percolator" distortion pedal. Albini is known to use copper plectrums and typically wraps his guitar strap around his waist rather than over his shoulder. The band prefers the intimacy of smaller clubs and live appearances are sporadic.

Both Weston and Albini are recording engineers. They prefer a sparse, analog recording sound with little or no overdubbing, and are meticulous about microphone placement and choice of equipment.

Shellac posing at Shibuya, Japan

Mid-set in many live performances Shellac take the time for one or more "question and answer" sessions, where members of the band respond in an off-the-cuff and, at times, jocular manner to questions shouted out by fans and hecklers alike.

Shellac made an early decision to not play at festivals, and this position was articulated to All Tomorrow's Parties (ATP) festival organizer Barry Hogan during the preparation stage of the inaugural ATP event. However, Scottish band Mogwai, curating the festival, convinced Albini to perform: "They (ATP) completely changed the festival game. Now the whole world has to operate under the knowledge that there are these cool, curated festivals where everyone is treated well and the experience is a generally pleasant one."[3] In 2002, the band curated the All Tomorrow's Parties festival in Camber Sands, England. Knowing that most of the audience had come specifically to see Shellac, the band went on first every morning as an incentive for the festival-goers to be up in time to see the other acts. A CD of tracks from the bands performing at the festival was released on ATP Records.

To celebrate their 20th anniversary as a band, Shellac returned to ATP to curate once more in December 2012 with the line-up including Wire, Scrawl, Mission Of Burma, The Ex + Brass Unbound, Red Fang, Shannon Wright, The Membranes, Alix, Bear Claw, Helen Money, Dead Rider, Arcwelder, Neurosis, Mono, Melt Banana, Uzeda, Prinzhorn Dance School, Three Second Kiss, Buke and Gase, Oxbow, Nina Nastasia, Zeni Geva, Bottomless Pit, Pinebender, STNNNG and more.[4]

In April 2013, Albini stated that a fifth Shellac LP was "just about finished" although it had "no projected release date". It would "most likely" feature nine songs and be released on Touch and Go Records despite the considerable downsizing that the label has undergone.[5]

In November 2013, the band played the final holiday camp edition of the All Tomorrow's Parties festival in Camber Sands, England.[6]

The band's fifth LP, Dude Incredible, was released on September 16, 2014.[7][8] Steve Albini went over each song on the album with Exclaim magazine.[9][10]

A collection of the band's two Peel Sessions from 1994 and 2004, entitled The End of Radio was released on June 14th, 2019. [11][12][13][14][15]


Star honoring Shellac on the outside mural of the Minneapolis nightclub First Avenue

Writing for Drowned in Sound, Benjamin Bland said that, "Big Black and Shellac are surely the two most influential 'noise rock' groups there have ever been. Hundreds of bands have sounded like them, and in all probability so will hundreds more. Who can blame them? When a shadow that large looms over an entire subgenre of music, it’s hard not to be influenced by it, let alone ignore it altogether."[16]

John Robb, music critic and frontman of British post-punk band The Membranes, called Shellac "the finest rock band on the planet. This is the rock band that the rest of us in our bands [...] have had to measure ourselves against and if we are found wanting then we have to cower behind rocks and attempt to revive our measly offerings until they measure up."[17] Vish Khanna expanded on their influence, noting that "[t]he band's sense of empathy, great storytelling, interpersonal politics and black humour are not necessarily uncommon in post-punk noise-rock bands, but Shellac's path is likely the most distinctive and emulated one."[18]

Christian Lemach of Whores called At Action Park his favorite noise rock album of all time.[19] Mike Sullivan of Russian Circles cited the album as a major influence on his guitar-playing, noting that it "literally changed the way [he] looked at music".[20] The band has also been cited as an influence by Future Of The Left (who have been described with the moniker "Poundland Shellac"),[21] Kurt Ballou of Converge,[22] Mono,[23] Swing Kids,[24] Karin Dreijer of The Knife,[25] Gilla Band,[26][27] Black Country, New Road,[28] Jehnny Beth of Savages,[29] Silverchair,[30] My Disco,[31] Gengahr,[32] Dredg,[33] Suicide Dolls,[34] Echo Is Your Love,[35] The Futureheads,[36] KEN Mode[16] and Pile.[37]

Shellac was honored with a star on the outside mural of the Minneapolis nightclub First Avenue,[38] recognizing performers that have played sold-out shows or have otherwise demonstrated a major contribution to the culture at the iconic venue.[39] Receiving a star "might be the most prestigious public honor an artist can receive in Minneapolis," according to journalist Steve Marsh.[40]



  • A detailed gear diagram of Steve Albini's 2000 Shellac guitar rig was available.[41]
  • A detailed gear diagram of Bob Weston's 2000 Shellac bass rig was available.[42]


  1. ^ "Explore: Post-Hardcore (Top Artists)". AllMusic. Retrieved September 4, 2011.
  2. ^ Terich, Jeff (April 24, 2007). "The 90-Minute Guide - Post-Hardcore". Treblezine. Archived from the original on April 4, 2011. Retrieved September 4, 2011.
  3. ^ Lake Smith, Aaron (September 29, 2010). "The Verge Q+A: Punk Pioneer Steve Albini on Music Festivals, The Future of Radio and Why He Wants GQ To Fail". GQ Magazine. Retrieved January 11, 2014.
  4. ^ "Nightmare Before Christmas curated by Shellac Of North America - All Tomorrow's Parties". Retrieved 2013-10-26.
  5. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "Steve Albini says new Shellac LP is done". YouTube. Retrieved 2013-10-26.
  6. ^ "End Of An Era Part 2 curated by ATP & Loop - All Tomorrow's Parties". Retrieved 2013-10-26.
  7. ^ "Shellac DUDE INCREDIBLE". Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  8. ^ "Tiny Mix Tapes: Shellac Dude Incredible". Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  9. ^ "Steve Albini Breaks Down Shellac's 'Dude Incredible' Track by Track". Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  10. ^ "Kreative Kontrol Ep. #120: Steve Albini". 31 July 2014. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  11. ^ "Shellac Plan Peel Sessions Release 'The End of Radio'". 16 April 2019. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  12. ^ "Pitchfork Media: The End of Radio". Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  13. ^ "Shellac Collect Previously Unreleased Peel Sessions on Double Album". Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  14. ^ "Shellac The End of Radio". Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  15. ^ "Protonic Reversal Ep150: Steve Albini (Shellac, Big Black, Rapeman)". 3 April 2020. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  16. ^ a b "Album Review: KEN mode - Success". DrownedInSound.
  17. ^ "Shellac: Dude Incredible - album review. '10/10 For A Stunning Return'". September 15, 2014.
  18. ^ "Shellac Dude Incredible".
  19. ^ "WHORES' TOP 5 NOISE-ROCK ALBUMS". Revolver. October 7, 2013. Retrieved July 14, 2020.
  20. ^ Michael (October 16, 2010). "Interviews: Russian Circles". Scene Point Blank. Retrieved July 14, 2020.
  21. ^ "The Quietus | Features | A Quietus Interview | We Were Basically Abba: Andrew Falkous Of Mclusky Interviewed". The Quietus.
  22. ^ "Interview : Kurt Ballou (Converge)". Metalorgie (in French). Retrieved 2021-01-05.
  23. ^ Cory, Ian (October 4, 2016). "Interview: Taka Goto (Mono)". Invisible Oranges. Archived from the original on October 6, 2016. Retrieved October 6, 2016.
  24. ^ "Interview: Swing Kids Vocalist Justin Pearson Looks Back on Their Sound, Visual Aesthetic + More". Retrieved 2021-02-19.
  25. ^ "The Knife: "We are both a bit too romantic to stop doing melodies" - Interview | Interviews". musicOMH. 2007-01-12. Retrieved 2021-02-19.
  26. ^ "Why a Group of All Dudes Named Themselves Girl Band".
  27. ^ O'Toole, Lucy. "Gilla Band: "I never raise my voice to anyone, but I have this unique thing in my life where I get to shout my head off – and not get arrested because of it"". Hotpress. Retrieved 2022-11-09.
  28. ^ "Black Country, New Road 2021". Heartnoize Promotion. Retrieved 2022-11-09.
  29. ^ Pinnock, Tom (2020). My Life In Music - Jehnny Beth. London: Uncut. p. 118.
  30. ^ "Silverchair - Press - Interview with Silverchair at the Bellevue Hotel in Philadelphia".
  31. ^ "Liam Andrews of My Disco".
  32. ^ "Gengahr Interview at The Great Escape Festival". FESTIVAL - Discover Festivals. 2018-05-20. Retrieved 2021-02-19.
  33. ^ "An interview with DREDG" (PDF).
  34. ^ "Interview with the deli's Band of the Month (December): The Suicide Dolls | The Deli Magazine".
  35. ^ "Echo Is Your Love: Bring Down All The Barriers". DIY Conspiracy - International Zine in the Spirit of DIY Hardcore Punk!. 11 August 2008.
  36. ^ "Futureheads interview".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  37. ^ "Pile: A Million Sweaty Punks Can't Be Wrong". Spin. April 19, 2017.
  38. ^ "The Stars". First Avenue & 7th Street Entry. Retrieved 2020-05-10.
  39. ^ Bream, Jon (2019-05-03). "10 things you'll learn about First Avenue in new Minnesota History Center show". Star Tribune. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota. Retrieved 2020-05-10.
  40. ^ Marsh, Steve (2019-05-13). "First Avenue's Star Wall". Mpls.St.Paul Magazine. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota. Retrieved 2020-05-10.
  41. ^ "GuitarGeek: Steve Albini of Shellac". Archived from the original on 2013-06-21. Retrieved 2014-10-08.
  42. ^ "GuitarGeek: Bob Weston of Shellac". Archived from the original on 2013-08-17. Retrieved 2014-10-08.

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