Shellac (sometimes referred to as ‘Shellac of North America’) is an American rock music group formed in Chicago, Illinois in 1992 by Steve Albini (guitar and vocals), Bob Weston (bass guitar vocals) and Todd Trainer (drums). They have been classified as post-hardcore, noise rock and math rock. Albini has claimed they refer to themselves as ‘Shellac of North America’, “when we’re being pretentious.”
They have a distinctive, minimalist sound based on unusual and urgent time signatures, repetitive heavy rhythms, an angular guitar sound, and Albini’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-based instruments. Albini is also known to use copper plectrums and unique guitar straps that fit around the waist rather than over the shoulder. The band prefers the intimacy of smaller clubs, and live appearances are sporadic.
Both Weston and Albini are renowned recording engineers, and use their preferred methods with Shellac: Albini prefers a very clean, analogue recording sound with little or no overdubbing, and he is meticulous about microphone placings and equipment - this is reflected in Shellac’s no nonsense approach to their own music, both in the studio and live.