They still do not sell t-shirts.
November 21, 2014 7:58 AM   Subscribe

27 years after their recording, Fugazi gives their first set of demos an official release. Alternative Press checks in with an appreciation (with SoundCloud streams of the entire release). The Washington Post recounts the band's early years.

Previously, previously, previously, previously. Also: Wugazi.

Instrument (complete doc, Spanish subs)
Fugazi, live in front of the White House (show given as part of a Gulf War protest, 1991)
Live at the Trocadero in Philadelphia, 1995 (full show)
Live at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia, 1997 (complete show)
Live in Boston at MCA, 2002 (full show)
posted by DirtyOldTown (37 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
The Wugazi link in that previously is dead, but they're on this page now. Also: there's a "net worth" site that claims to reveal how much celebrities are worth that claims Ian MacKaye is worth $25 million, which is hilarious and absurd.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:04 AM on November 21, 2014 [4 favorites]

oh hell yeah
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:55 AM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Hey I was at that show at Electric Factory!
posted by Mister_A at 8:56 AM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite] in front of the White House (show given as part of a Gulf War protest, 1991)

and here we are 24 years later, still at war in Iraq. Guess who figured out the political lessons from the Vietnam War and social unrest in the 60s? Answer: it wasn't the punks.
posted by at 9:06 AM on November 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Look at that photo on the "first set of demos" link! They're just babies.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:08 AM on November 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Answer: it wasn't the punks.

It was the squares!!!
posted by josher71 at 9:13 AM on November 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

I grew up in D.C., and started going to shows in 1989 - early on, I thought that I had missed the scene's really significant era. That 1991 show in Lafayette Park helped to change that for me - it was absolutely, hair-on-the-back-of-your-neck electrifying.
posted by ryanshepard at 9:13 AM on November 21, 2014 [4 favorites]

I saw Fugazi live in '93 in Memphis at this gig. Coming up from punk/indie roots, they were the most adept and accomplished musicians I'd ever seen. I still remember the amazing, chaotic, but still controlled instrumental break in "Shut the Door." I thought they'd gone too far out and would never come back to the song. Then, after they'd stretched and stretched, Canty struck the familiar TUM!TUM!TUM! drum lick and they went seamlessly back into the song. I was overwhelmed.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:25 AM on November 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Fugazi completely changed the whole music scene where I was growing up. They gave all the punks permission not to be so limited in their musical vocabulary. Their early work was so incredibly inspiring and influential...
posted by saulgoodman at 9:58 AM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

friend works at Dischord. They have been working on shipping these for a while. A lot of records. Demand is really high.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:09 AM on November 21, 2014

So many damn Fugazi stories. I think I've seen them more than any live band, with the possible exception of some bands I've toured with. I lived in New York in the days they were touring heavily. They always played two or three locations in the area, so we'd go to every one. I mean, five bucks, right?

The impact argument that the AP article makes is a salient one. I remember I was working doing web programming for a designer that worked with a bunch of national bands. We ended up doing Maroon 5 (a band I hate, but they paid their bill on time unlike others). When I was working on the site, I saw a page where they listed their influences and one of them was Fugazi. At first I was super annoyed, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Fugazi were so good, so universal, that they are like the Ramones. They changed everything for everybody.

I still get a shiver every time I hear the opening to Waiting Room, it felt like everything changed at that moment.
posted by lumpenprole at 10:23 AM on November 21, 2014 [7 favorites]

They are one of the fairly few bands of that era that I like a lot more now than I did as a teenager -- like Sonic Youth and a few others, their music has held up incredibly well with time and is inherently rich enough to sustain repeated listening over time.

I saw them live in about 1990 or 1991, and it was just so-so -- they were as solid as you would expect but they were obviously tired and basically just going through the motions mid-tour; I honestly remember the evening more because of the two girls who were having full-on pants-down sex directly in front of us (pressed between us and the edge of the stage, in full view of the band) rather than anything about the music.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:49 AM on November 21, 2014

Ian MacKaye is worth $25 million, which is hilarious and absurd.

Repeater = 2+ million copies * $15
13 Songs = 3+ million copies * $15
other albums, DVDs, Minor Threat, Minor Threat T-shirts, etc

Divide by four guys, subtract some expenses = not so absurd.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:04 AM on November 21, 2014

(yes I know they don't get the full retail price of the album, so let's say somewhere north of $5 million, maybe $10)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:06 AM on November 21, 2014

There's a great new documentary that just premiered here in DC last week called More than a Witness about Positive Force, the punk activist collective that organized most (if not all) of the benefit shows Fugazi was involved with -- highly recommended.

Also, while you still can't get a Fugazi shirt, you can get authorized Discord t-shirts these days. Rationale here; Ian and Jeff actually always had different perspectives on merchandise.
posted by susanvance at 11:17 AM on November 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Repeater = 2+ million copies * $15
13 Songs = 3+ million copies * $15

To include in your math: Repeater, 13 songs, etc, are STILL only $10 on CD, and $13 on LP. Used to be ten for LPs, too, I think, but I'd have to go home and check my copies.
posted by dirtdirt at 11:18 AM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'd be willing to bet a toe that the $25 million figure comes from a dumb computer model that figures X album sales + Y years touring (meaning Q in ticket sales) + Z in probable associated merch sales + owning a record label = $25 million. But given that they're a band that sold their tickets for $5, their tapes for $7, still sells their CDs for $10, and offers no merch... and given that Dischord is likely as often as not a labor of love into which Fugazi money goes as much or more than an earner in and of itself and that number starts to fall apart really fast.

Even if the band made a positively Taylor Swiftian 20% on each album sold, and even if you generously credit them with ten million albums sold (which, since only two of their releases are million sellers is very high) split four ways, you get more like $4 million. You'd have to sell a shitload of $5 tickets and $3 Trusty six inches to have had a life and run a business for 27 years and still have that and an additional $21 million left over.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:20 AM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

(That's no disrespect to Trusty, who are awesome. Just picking a band off the Dischord roster off the top of my head.)
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:25 AM on November 21, 2014

I went to a party DJ'd by Brendan Cantry recently. That's probably the coolest thing I've done this year. Also, if we're posting the best Fugazi live videos, this one of Shut the Door is transcendent.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:36 AM on November 21, 2014

Man, there are two shows that I really regret missing, both of which were because they were in Detroit and I was in high school and my parents thought I was too young. One was Fugazi, the other was Nirvana.
posted by klangklangston at 11:40 AM on November 21, 2014

Ok, so Fugazi CDs wholesaled at $6 in 1993. Let's say generously each cost $1 to make. That's still $5/CD in their pockets (even with the barcode!)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:44 AM on November 21, 2014

Oh are we just naming our favorite unsung Dischord bands?

Jawbox is obviously the best, and Slant 6 obviously the coolest but the Snakes are the un-sung-i-est.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:49 AM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

That's still $5/CD in their pockets (even with the barcode!)

You understand there are four guys in the band, though, right?

I broke it down above assuming they get paid per album what Taylor frigging Swift does. Even if you double that, that doesn't get you to eight figures for Ian MacKaye for his 27 year career.

Even if we're being fanciful, he doesn't even get close.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:51 AM on November 21, 2014

Divide by four guys, subtract some expenses = not so absurd.

Keep in mind that Dischord typically has 4-6 people on its payroll (and pays them decently, with benefits), sells a lot of its records through distributors (e.g. Southern), and has two office spaces (one of which it's paying rent on, and the other a mortgage). Fugazi itself was also paying (again well, I believe with benefits) a soundman and 1-2 roadies when they toured. I'm sure everyone in the band did well, but Ian's expenses weren't negligible.

He drives an old car, usually shows up around town wearing threadbare clothes, and lives in a fairly small (though quickly appreciating, due to gentrification) house - if he's a millionaire, he's living very, very modestly.
posted by ryanshepard at 11:53 AM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'll bet he still shops for clothes at Value Village. Anyone else remember those giant bins of jeans and leather jackets? Is VV still like that?
posted by Mr. Yuck at 12:36 PM on November 21, 2014

Ah, the old 'Fugazi are actually sellouts' conversation. Marginally more interesting than the 'punk's not dead' conversation in that it touches on methods of production.

Still basically pointless, mind you.
posted by lumpenprole at 1:11 PM on November 21, 2014

> Is VV still like that

No. It's mostly clothes from about ten years ago, I'd guess, plus new cheap crap from China and some ugly housewares. Sometimes you get lucky, but overall it's usually not worth my thrifting time.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:41 PM on November 21, 2014

Un-sung-iest? El Guapo!
posted by klangklangston at 1:50 PM on November 21, 2014

Still my favorite mash-up: Fugazi & Destiny's Child "Independent Room". Really points to unexplored musical possibilities.
posted by PHINC at 2:17 PM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Frankly I would love it if Ian MacKaye had 25 million dollars, because he's one of the few people in this world whom I'm confident would do super awesome, worthwhile pro-social stuff with it.
posted by werkzeuger at 6:09 PM on November 21, 2014 [5 favorites]

When you've reached the point in a society that economic resentment and suspicion about other people's secret stores of wealth is so great that it's one of the first topics that inevitably comes up when any subject whatsoever is discussed, that's a pretty good sign your society's got some big problems in the economic fairness and trust departments, seems to me.

(My unsungiest vote: Soul side.)
posted by saulgoodman at 6:20 PM on November 21, 2014

At this point, I'm threadsitting, but I have to get the un-sung-iest award to Shudder to Think c. 1989-92.

At their best - and for a few years only - StT were an absolutely ecstatic, transporting band to see live.
posted by ryanshepard at 7:13 PM on November 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Um... they're just a band, right? Does their music have some mystical healing powers or something? I spent the 80s and 90s in Arlington and somehow managed to miss everything about them except the occasional mention of them by hipsters at the Roratanga Rodeo. From the sound of these comments, my life would have changed immeasurably had I only been willing to accept Fugazi into my life. I guess I just don't get it. It's music, right?
posted by Jamesonian at 7:49 PM on November 21, 2014

They were all very rich until Guy came up with the idea to pool their money and buy that gryphon. It was expensive to begin with and after some significant veterinarian bills they actually ended up in debt, believe it or not. Things changed after that, the energy was different. Then of course they had to put the band on hiatus to take care of the gryphon full time. Recently I heard they even had to sell the rights to some songs to keep the label going hence the upcoming reissue of "repeater minus 3 songs" that people have been talking about.
posted by wam at 10:25 PM on November 21, 2014 [5 favorites]

I'm on my iPad so it's rather difficult to gather up all the links, but Ian MacKaye has been tearing it up in the last year or so making appearances at archivist conferences about his process of keeping track of old Fughazi material and sifting through it. His citizen archivist discoveries versus the supposed anarchy of punk performance has been quite the entertaining set of talks.

Here's one. There's many others.
posted by jscott at 12:30 AM on November 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

I guess I just don't get it.

You don't get it.
posted by josher71 at 1:41 PM on November 25, 2014

Sorry, that's flip. It's about a lot more than music but that time has passed and so it's not necessarily something to get into now.
posted by josher71 at 1:42 PM on November 25, 2014

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