Saturday, November 15, 2008

Ian MacKaye @ St. Edwards

There are those seldom moments in what we do here that are truly unique and could not easily be duplicated. This was one of them. The chance to see someone as prolific as Ian MacKaye, the driving force behind iconic bands like Minor Threat, Teen Idles, Fugazi and founder of Dischord Records, does not come along often and in hindsight, is such a gift.

MacKaye took about two hours to field questions from the crowd of over 400 people in Mabee Ballroom on campus at St. Edwards. He is taking time away from Dischord and The Evens to tour the country speaking at these Q & A sessions to let fans have a "public interview" as he stated. In the days leading up to the engagement, we were a bit weary as to how this thing might actually go. There are always people out there who feel the need to ask questions like "When is such and such band getting back together", but the apprehensions we had were laid to rest when people actually started asking MacKaye questions and he fielded them quite elaborately and with the storytelling prowess of an expert and the openness of a friend.

MacKaye spoke on a range of topics from Straight Edge, the impossibility of a Minor Threat reunion, the internet-based rumor that he had been killed in a car accident, his family's support of his musical career, growing up in D.C. with Henry Rollins, and a number of other things.

Here are just a few of the best things he said or mentioned, from my four and a half pages of notes:
  • On the prospect of a Minor Threat reunion, MacKaye said "Why would you ever want that to happen?" He said that the music they were making at the time was a reflection of the times themselves and it just wouldn't be right to bring it back.
  • He said that he could tell where people were from in the early days of his touring life based on the way they danced and how they dressed, but the advent of MTV really hurt the regionalization of music.
  • His thoughts on file sharing via the internet, "I made music to be heard. Anybody who tries to limit that is wrong."
  • He told the funniest story about a kid who told him caffeine was a drug when he saw MacKaye drinking a Lipton un-sweetened ice tea. He said to the kid, "Fuck yooooou!"
  • He's a big Jimi Hendrix fan and he met someone who saw him play live once and when he asked the guy what it was like he told MacKaye that he couldn't remember because he had taken acid. At that point he said "I never want to forget anything," which is kind of the basis behind his choice to abstain from booze, drugs, and conquest-like sex practices.
  • He spoke the words to Minor Threat's Out of Step like someone would recite poetry and I have to say, it was beautiful.
  • He's never had a contract for any of the bands on Dischord, he's never had a lawyer, and he donated the money he received from Nike as their apology for their Major Threat ad for their skate team's tour to a free concert series in D.C., a senior citizens group, and a rock and roll girl's camp.

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