Ian MacKaye
January 10, 2002 8:43 AM   Subscribe

Ian MacKaye has been making good music for so long that it was great finally to see his picture in the NY Times. Not a very informative article, but it's a small victory for Fugazi fans everywhere. "We're not the first, hope we're not the last..." (Requires log-in)
posted by BitterOldPunk (26 comments total)

 
their new album is quite good as well.

Fugazi is amazing in that they manage to keep producing new, innovative records after all these years AND they are pretty much the only people I can think of who talk about "not selling out" and aren't hypocrites.
posted by malphigian at 8:51 AM on January 10, 2002


I wonder what, specifically, Ian's wish for the future of the music biz is. I mean, Fugazi has always charged $5 bucks for live shows, but if that becames their only source of income, would that still put food on the table?

No one would have that precious man resort to getting a day job, now would they?
posted by Pinwheel at 8:52 AM on January 10, 2002


It's odd, the article -- along with MacKaye's picture -- appears on the top left of the front page of the Times' Arts section. But MacKaye only appears toward the end of the article itself, and is mentioned only briefly.

Gotta say, though -- Fugazi's practice of printing the retail price of its CDs ($10 or $11, I think), along with the message that if your record shop tries to charge you more you can buy from Dischord direct, is a damn fine thing.
posted by mattpfeff at 8:55 AM on January 10, 2002


My only question is, when are we going to get a Minor Threat reunion tour??
posted by Ufez Jones at 8:57 AM on January 10, 2002


I mean, Fugazi has always charged $5 bucks for live shows, but if that becames their only source of income, would that still put food on the table?

While i don't know the specifics of fugazi's economics, the fact that they don't need to cover the costs of the army of middle-men (multiple producers, managers, etc). that the rest of the music industry uses means they can afford much lower prices. here's a nice article on the subject, by another old punker
posted by malphigian at 8:58 AM on January 10, 2002


You know what we always called a punk with a day job? A POSER. Oi oi oi.

And "The Argument" is a good record -- surprisingly good. They had kinda lost me after "Red Medicine."

And they'll happily let you record their shows, too.

Seriously, though -- why ISN'T Fugazi a model for other bands to emulate? They make exactly the music they want to, they have no one tellling them what to do, they ain't rich but they ain't goin' broke, and they've been around for at least 15 years now.

I guess most rock bands lack the ferocious self-discipline (some would say self-righteousness) of these guys.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:02 AM on January 10, 2002


You gotta love Albini. Though he's had more than a few paychecks cut by corporate music culture...
posted by Pinwheel at 9:02 AM on January 10, 2002


I mean, Fugazi has always charged $5 bucks for live shows, but if that becames their only source of income, would that still put food on the table?

Seems to me that the way Ian has set up Dischord, he's guaranteed that touring WON'T be their sole source of income, ever. No one owns their music but them.

And if worst comes to worst, they can always sell T-shirts. (ducking)
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:12 AM on January 10, 2002


I don't see why it is a victory. I don't think acknowledgement by the mainstream press means very much at all to the subculture. What is the benefit?
posted by thirteen at 9:13 AM on January 10, 2002


I don't think acknowledgement by the mainstream press means very much at all to the subculture. What is the benefit?

Are you suggesting this could be a Minor Threat?
posted by yerfatma at 9:19 AM on January 10, 2002


they ain't rich but they ain't goin' broke, and they've been around for at least 15 years now

BitterOldPunk: You answered your own question. 15 years is hard to do. I'd never say that Fugazi had it easy, but they had a good buzz out of the gate.

And the mainstream press knowing about Fugazi isn't new. Hell, this month, they show up on Spin's (yeeeeeck) list of most influential bands ever. Can't get more mainstream than that (well, you can I guess, but KROQ and MTV will never pick up on Fugazi.)

As for punks having day jobs not being punks, punk is working class music. [Don't make me call you BitterYoungPunk. ;) ]
posted by eyeballkid at 9:20 AM on January 10, 2002


The fact of the matter is that Fugazi is an extreme exception to the rule of most experiences in the music industry. Frankly, how many musicians want to be on the road 365 for the next 10 or 15 years, which is frankly what Fugazi has been doing. Not to knock them. I have more respect for Fugazi than almost any one in the business, but I really can only think of a few other performans who've managed success on their own terms like Fugazi. I can tell you right now as a musician in a struggling band, it takes a @#$! load of work, most of which is spent not playing music, but promoting youself. And the whole $5 at the door thing, I can't think of too many venue that even give you a say. It's usually, we charge at the door, you play the show. If you don't like it, go play somewhere else. On top of that, the kind of relentless touring that Fugazi does really precludes any sort of other interest you might have. This may be fine for a band of 20 year olds, but at 30, I wanna have a life besides sitting in a stinky vn with five other guys every day of my life. Fugazi works really hard, but I definitely do not see them as having the be all end all answer to saying fuck you to record companies, as much as maybe the rest of us would like to.
posted by bob bisquick at 9:21 AM on January 10, 2002


Fugazi really doesn't tour relentlessly. They tour when new albums come out, and occasionally play shows around the D.C. area in between albums (that's my understanding). And, really, they don't have to tour all that often. If they toured once every four or five years, I'd still buy their music. Because they are an amazing band. Period.

I know it's sounds a little idealistic, but I think the music industry needs to be a little more meritocratic. It cuts out so much bullshit. Less hype, less advertising, more focus on whether the music actually displays talent. I know, I know, there are a lot of good bands out there who need a way to promote themselves, but that's where new technology coupled with word-of-mouth comes in. You hear about a good band, find some songs online, decide if you like them or not, buy their cd, see them on tour, etc.....This is best case scenario, but as long as the big-name labels and execs don't shut the technology down, I don't see why it can't become the norm.
posted by flammableskirt at 9:49 AM on January 10, 2002


bb -
lots of bands only play at venues where they have a say in the door prices: peoples garages, peoples parents' basements, community centers, church halls, retirement homes...
it's diy, not dwtcos(do what the club owner says) there's a whole network of people fighting against stuff like that.

a side note:
ian mackaye is super approachable too. a friend of mine called them to see if they would do a benefit show for a soup kitchen once, and he called back himself to let them know that he would be happy to do it some other time but that they were booked for that night.

i would love to be in a band with great people who tour all the time, and put out amazing records, and who still call people back about dinky little shows that they won't get paid for.
posted by goneill at 9:50 AM on January 10, 2002


<fanboy mode>
If you haven't seen the Fugazi documentary, Instrument, you really should. Even if you don't care for their music. My wife, for example, has never liked Fugazi's albums but was so enamored with their ethics after watching Instrument, that she wants to see them next time they are in town.

Instument captures that Fugazi 365 ethic that bob refers to quite well. The same old "if you aren't playing you're paying", and do it yourself work ethic that Bob alludes to. As the article says, Fugazi credits a lot of their success with "simple hard work." To me this is inspirational. They don't claim to be genius songwriters or master musicians. Nor are they particularly attached to a "scene" (which is why, I think MacKaye made the break from hardcore). They just go out and perform. All the time. They work hard and they're honest. I think that wins a lot of fans, and helps explain their cult following. I assume as long as they stay true to that, they'll never be in trouble because they'll always have a fanbase.

And contracts or not, Dischord apparantly turns a profit. Unlike SST, it isn't bleeding money. It's smart. </fanboy mode>
posted by emptyage at 9:57 AM on January 10, 2002


Here's to hoping that there will never be a Minor Threat reunion. Something so great should be left untouched as part of music history. Reunions are excuses to make quick money, evident in recent disastrous Sex Pistols reunions. When it's over - it's over.
posted by lostbyanecho at 10:26 AM on January 10, 2002


I don't think Fugazi tours relentlessly, but they do tour frequently enough. I don't think this article really means anything. Fugazi has had a certain amount of mainstream hoopla for sometime. It isn't because the actively search for NYTimes articles and such, but because they do have quite a following and it is difficult for the media to ignore something so large. They are really a phenomena within themselves. Plus, they treat listeners like human beings rather than statistic or a consumer. Kind of unusual in the industry.
posted by ddmmyyyy at 10:28 AM on January 10, 2002


Mattpfeff: Gotta say, though -- Fugazi's practice of printing the retail price of its CDs ($10 or $11, I think), along with the message that if your record shop tries to charge you more you can buy from Dischord direct, is a damn fine thing

I wonder who started that idea? I think i can remember 'Black Flag' albums used to have a similar message on the front.

I recently bought a CD by 'Lemon Jelly' (verymuch not punk sounding) which had the helpful information 'do not buy this CD if you already have collected our 10" series on vinyl, it contains the same music', which i thought was very honest of them.
posted by asok at 10:36 AM on January 10, 2002


Ian was doing the same thing as Black Flag at about the same time in the band the Teen Idles as well as Minor Threat a little later.
posted by ddmmyyyy at 11:20 AM on January 10, 2002


This is not a fugazi post.
posted by Hankins at 11:23 AM on January 10, 2002


Here's to hoping that there will never be a Minor Threat reunion. Something so great should be left untouched as part of music history. Reunions are excuses to make quick money, evident in recent disastrous Sex Pistols reunions. When it's over - it's over.

Sorry lost, i disagree. There are vaild ways to do reunion tours, and there are invalid ways. The Sex Pistols were a disastrous band. When they reunited, they were all over Mtv, talk shows, newspapers, etc. doing what they've always done. Minor Threat broke up when i was 4. I've seen the videos of the old days and just want to experience that for what it was. Maybe it's no more realistic than building a time machine and going back to 1982 to see them and many other great bands play, but i can have my pipe dreams, no? And i don't think anyone could say that Ian does anything for the money. Comparing him to Johnny Lydon is like comparing something really cool to shit.
posted by Ufez Jones at 11:28 AM on January 10, 2002


That article is hardly the most mainstream appearance of Fugazi I can think of.

The conference was sponsored by the Future of Music Coalition, which was co-founded by Simple Machines co-owner and former Tsunami frontwoman Jenny Toomey. (An utterly failed FPP on the Coalition that I posted a year and a half ago has some additional information.)
posted by snarkout at 11:32 AM on January 10, 2002


There is no chance of a reunion.
posted by thirteen at 11:32 AM on January 10, 2002


Minor Threat broke up when i was 4.

*sigh*

Thus my screen name.

(Hobbling off to the gerontologist.)
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:25 PM on January 10, 2002


That article is hardly the most mainstream appearance of Fugazi I can think of.

You have no idea. (insert audible groans here).
posted by Ufez Jones at 12:42 PM on January 10, 2002


From the article:

b) No one will be willing to pay for any of that music, leaving songwriters destitute and bands trying to make a living from touring and selling T-shirts.

I thought this line was funny, especially given that touring and selling merch is how 95-99% of all bands make any money and not record sales or royalties, unless they're some megaband like Metallica.

Personally, I would never sign to a major. The numbers aren't in your favor and I've known too many people who have gotten burnt. I would be more than happy to be on an independent label like Jade Tree (my vote for best label currently) or something I put out myself and not have an inflated image of myself or my work.
posted by rathikd at 4:15 PM on January 10, 2002


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