Saturday, November 15, 2008

Ian MacKaye

Last night, I attended a Q&A with Ian MacKaye at St. Edwards University here in Austin. For those of you who are unfamiliar with MacKaye, he is the lead singer of the highly influential 80's punk band, Minor Threat, as well as a member of the equally influential band, Fugazi. He also owns the Dischord record label.

I saw Fugazi several years back at Tipitinas Uptown in New Orleans and it was, without a doubt, one of the best concerts I have ever witnessed. Fugazi, though no longer in existance, always charged five bucks a ticket for their live shows despite the fact that they could have easily charged twenty to twenty-five bucks. They refused to play venues that didn't allow access for all ages. The integrity of Ian MacKaye is second to none and anyone starting a band today should seriously study the path that this guy has carved out in the musical landscape. Here is a brief recap of some of the questions posed to MacKaye last night:

When asked about a possible Minor Threat reunion, MacKaye had this to say - "That would be absurd. We were reacting to the world around us at that particular time which would be totally irrelevant today." I, personally, have always had mixed feelings regarding band reunions because it is, more often than not, an opportunity to cash in on nostalgia rather than a burning passion to create, which is why music should be played in the first place. A few years back, one of my all-time favorite bands, Gang of Four, reunited and went on tour eventually making their way to Austin. I couldn't bring myself to see a group of people who were now well established in the corporate work world, singing their brilliant anti-corporate songs of twenty plus years ago. I don't have a problem with people doing whatever it is that makes them happy, but you shouldn't try to ignite a fire that no longer burns inside of you for the sake of making a buck - it's phony.

When asked about his feelings regarding piracy, he simply said that he made music with the sole intention of it being heard and anything that restricts people from hearing his music, he's against. I think that's quite a noble statement coming from someone who owns a record label. I can't tell you how many kids I have come across who tell me that their main goal is to be able to pay their bills and make some money with their music, as though you can't make music without it being economically feasible That saddens me. Whatever happened to passion?

MacKaye also addressed an issue regarding a song he wrote while in Minor Threat entitled "Straight Edge," a song(lyrics below) that still dogs him to this day...

I'm a person just like you
But I've got better things to do
Than sit around and fuck my head
Hang out with the living dead
Snort white shit up my nose
Pass out at the shows
I don't even think about speed
That's something I just don't need

I've got the straight edge

I'm a person just like you
But I've got better things to do
Than sit around and smoke dope
'Cause I know I can cope
Laugh at the thought of eating ludes
Laugh at the thought of sniffing glue
Always gonna keep in touch
Never want to use a crutch

I've got the straight edge

...anyway, it spawned the "straight edge" movement that still exists today, some twenty odd years after it was written, complete with gangs who will beat you up(seriously) for drinking, smoking, etc., and MacKaye has been unfairly attributed as the leader of this movement. The "straight edge" question was posed to him last night and he said that the song was written not about how he feels people should live their lives but, rather, the freedom to live your life how you want to and that was how he chose to live his. He insists that he wasn't trying to preach or start a movement because, as he said, movements often care more about the cause than they do the individuals they claim to represent.

Overall, the Q&A session was inspiring and, even though the place was packed, I sincerely wish more people could have listened to the wisdom of Ian MacKaye.


Jenny said...

I added a link to your blog on my blog.

Is that cool?

How the heck have you been? Seems like I haven't talked to you in a while again. And that is not cool. Because if nothing else, I should rant to you about Hillary. Ugh. I was hoping she would go away.

PopCultureJihad said...

It is both cool and flattering. Thank you.
I'm doing well. How are you?
Of ALL the postitions to consider Hillary for...WHY would it be the ONE position I don't want her in. What's wrong with postmaster general? I really wish Obama would consider Colin Powell for Secretary of State(the most important cabinet position of them all). Go away, Hillary.

Jenny said...

There is only one position you don't want her in? I can think of many.

FYI....a five head is bigger than a forehead. Get it? Yeah, my cousin is a dork like me.

I am in kind of a funk tonight.

idk why, I just am.

PopCultureJihad said...

It took me forever buuut I finally get it. "four" head. Yes, it takes me a while. awhile(?)
Seriously, put her wherever if you are absolutely hell bent on giving her a cabinet position, but NOT Secretary of State. She's a tool. She was the one who was all...blah, blah, can't negotiate with Iran...blah, blah, blah...Obama is so naive. She's also the one who claimed she came under enemy fire in Bosnia. No more Clintons.