Nardwuar vs Ian MacKaye of Fugazi  
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Nardwuar: Who are you?
Ian: I'm Ian MacKaye of Fugazi from Washington, DC.

Ian, you're here in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Burnaby. [to be exact]. Canada. DOA, Minor Threat. You have a poster in your hand. What do you remember about that?
This show is fairly legendary in Washington, DC terms. DOA first came to Washington DC in October of 1979. They played a commune called Madame's Organ and, actually, I was sick that night. It was one of the two or three shows I intensely regret not going to. Everyone that came back said, "This band from Canada is incredible." This was 1979, when nobody was touring, and they showed up and played in a hovel, basically. It was a commune. The PA was made out of oatmeal canisters and stuff. The fact they had come - there' s a live tape from that show that spread around. Everyone just traded and traded and traded. In 1981 we got word that they were doing a show in New York and wanted to come down and we had no real access to any venues whatsoever but there was this alternative high school, H.P. Woodlong, and they let us do one gig before. We had another gig set up there, so we called DOA. "If you guys want to come down, we can't pay you. If you want to come play in this high school, we'll let you play in this show we have." It was a free gig, basically. They showed up. They played an incredible set. We passed the hat. We raised seventy-five bucks. They were totally happy to get the dough. The fact that they showed up meant so much to us. It was actually one of the main reasons that, as a band like Fugazi or any band I've been involved with, we've always had the philosophy, "You must always make the gig." If DOA can make it to a high school in 1981 just to pass a hat, we damned sure have to make it to every gig we commit to. That's the most important thing. That was really inspirational. DOA. I think a lot of people forget what an important band they were. The fact that they did all that touring early on - they were the mavericks. Them and Black Flag. Those were the bands that really blazed the trail.

Nardwuar and Ian!

You also enjoyed the [Canadian] Subhumans, right? Didn't you guys play with them?
Yeah, yeah. Actually, Minor Threat didn't play with Subhumans. The Bad Brains and SOA played with Subhumans. Subhumans stayed at my parents' house. So did DOA. Everyone came and stayed at my parents' house. I remember The Subhumans guys, too. They were really great guys. That was a really cool show. That show was shut down. It was at a place called The Rumba Club. It was in a corner of an alley and SOA and Bad Brains were great, then the Subhumans came on - actually, I think they played before Bad Brains - when they were playing, there was this guy, a Krishna guy, lived in an apartment building behind there - was trying to meditate but there was so much noise coming up that he called the police and the police raided the show during The Subhumans set and there was a long discussion about if the show would go on. The show did go on.

When DOA did "Hardcore '81," was that the first time you heard the word "hardcore"?
I don't know, actually. I've thought about that a lot. I remember, from our point of view, the reason we started using the term "hardcore," we were really trying to differentiate between what people were calling punk rock, which was this really Sid Vicious kind of New York or London, kind of posie kind of fashion. It was a fashion thing. That was punk rock. You were supposed to spit on yourself. All this kind of stuff. We thought, "That's a fashion thing." We're hardcore punk rock kids. Have you heard of the term "hard-shelled Baptist"? A hard-shelled Baptist is someone who's relationship with God is so intense they actually don't need to follow - they can smoke and drink and whore around, do anything they want - because that's how hard-shelled they are. So hardcore punk doesn't really need to do any of the stuff that people attribute to punk rock other than be dedicated to what they're doing. So that's why we started using that term. I don't know if DOA was the first band to use that. It was right at the same time.


What about other Canadian bands? I know the rock'n'roll band Sloan and they told me they made a pilgrimage to Washington DC about 1988 and almost stayed at your house. Do you remember some guys from Halifax coming to your house?
Yeah, sure. There's also a band called Jellyfish Babies from Halifax. Those guys were cool. They'd drive all the waydown - we did this free show in the park. We'd run into them from time to time. I don't know many Eastern Canadian bands. Like Halifax bands.I only know a handful. Obviously, when we've toured, we've played with bands. I remember a band called Porcelain Head.

Porcelain Forehead.
You are the man. I always liked them. They were always cool. Over the years - The Viletones, of course.

Did you see them?
Never saw them but that single was one of our - that was part of our constellation.

One of their t-shirts is for sale in LA for $250.
If people will buy it, that's what they'll sell it for, I guess.

Ian, are you a vegan?
Why do you ask?

Just curious what you've been eating on tour and how Canada's been doing. I understand you've had some good food there in Winnipeg.
Where'd you hear that from?

Just heard it from a little bird. Did you eat good food in Winnipeg?
I did eat good food. Canada's been very good for food. But I don't, generally, think it's that interesting to talk about my diet.

What's something that you eat two of?
What do I eat two of?

Like, right now, if I saw some cheese, I'd have two slices of cheese.
Two bananas could never hurt anybody.

I was curious, Ian. When you're living there in DC, people coming to your house: did you once have a stalker living on your lawn? Like in about '85?
There was a woman who once came and lived on the porch. It's not actually a humorous story. She ended up killing herself.

How about the rest of the members of Fugazi. Doesn't Joe live in some sort of satanic house or some house that was deemed satanic?
According to the Prince George's County police, yeah. Joe lived in a house with a bunch of young kids living together. It was outside of a university. They listened to Joy Division, stuff like that, but they weren't Satanists by any means. But what had happened was that one of the people that lived in the house had found - in the university there's a biology section - they found a bunch of dead cats in the dumpster and they thought, "Oh, this will be cool. We'll get some cat skulls." So they had these dead cats hanging in the sun to try to get the hide off, to get back to the bones. And somebody called the police. When they raided the house, it was in the paper that they were a satanic cult and stuff. I don't think they were. I think that's just a typical misunderstanding.

DOA poster

And Guy of Fugazi, Ian of Fugazi, lives by that Condit senator guy? He's in the news a lot, isn't he?
I don't know where Condit lives.

I heard he lives right next door to Guy.
They live in the same neighborhood, but I have no idea where Condit lives, so I couldn't speak if he lives next to Guy or not.

George Tabb said that when Minor Threat showed up for some gigs that you were wearing Izod golf shirts.
George Tabb, you can take it from me, his column is largely full of shit. He may not be, but his column is nonsense.

Ian, your dad was in the Kennedy motorcade. I find this fascinating. Please explain if you could.
Where did you hear that?

In Punk Planet, collected interviews.
Oh, yes. My father was in the White House Press Corps, 1960-1. He was working for the Minneapolis Star at the time, I guess. He was just in the press corps. He was just in the motorcade. He was just in a bus with a bunch of the other journalists following the limousine as they came into Dallas. They were two blocks back. They had no idea what had happened. The bus they were riding in suddenly accelerated and just whipped through Dealey Plaza - where the shooting occurred. And they saw everybody running. They knew that something bad had happened but no one had any idea. They didn't know what had happened until they hit the Parkland Hospital. They just pulled up in front of the hospital and that's when it became apparent that something very bad had happened at that point.

Has your dad seen JFK or does he have any conspiracy theories about it - like the driver killing Kennedy.
My father doesn't really think anybody did it but Oswald. He has no conspiracy theories whatsoever about that. My father actually feels the real mystery is not the JFK shooting, but Martin Luther King. He thinks that is nonsense, that that was a set up. He didn't think that James Earl Ray did that alone. He thinks that's definitely a conspiracy.

He's a pretty smart guy, too, editing the crossword puzzle for The Washington Post. That's not too easy, is it?
I think it's sort of a habit thing. If you're in the habit of doing crossword puzzles, it's not that hard to edit them. He's been doing them for quite awhile. Both of my parents are certainly very intelligent people.

When Fear played on "Saturday Night Live," Ian, did you go down to "Saturday Night Live" and check it out in New York with Rollins and the gang?
Rollins was not there. I'll tell you the story if you'd like to hear the story about that. At eight in the morning, some point in October, I got a call. I was driving a newspaper truck for The Washington Post at the time, so eight in the morning was brutal. It was Lorne Michaels' office, Lorne Michaels being the producer of "Saturday Night Live," and I get this woman, "Lorne Michaels' office, please hold." I was completely delirious. Lorne Michaels gets on the phone - "Hi, Ian, it's Lorne Michaels of 'Saturday Night Live,' I'm calling you because I got your number from John Belushi. He says that you might be able to get some dancers up here 'cause we want to have Fear on the show." I was completely baffled by this. "Pardon me?" "Hold on a second." John Belushi gets on the phone and he says, "This is John Belushi. I'm a big fan of Fear's. I made a deal with 'Saturday Night Live' that I would make a cameo appearance on the show if they'd let Fear play. I got your number from Penelope Spheeris, who did 'Decline of Western Civilization' and she said that you guys, Washington DC punk rock kids, know how to dance. I want to get you guys to come up to the show." It was worked out that we could all arrive at the Rockefeller Center where "Saturday Night Live" was being filmed. The password to get in was "Ian MacKaye." We went up the day before. The Misfits played with The Necros at the Ukrainian hall, I think, so all of the Detroit people were there, like Tesco Vee and Cory Rusk from the Necros and all the Touch and Go people and a bunch of DC people - 15 to 20 of us came up from DC. Henry was gone. He was living in LA at this point. So we went to the show. During the dress rehearsal, a camera got knocked over. We were dancing and they were very angry with us and said that they were going to not let us do it then Belushi really put his foot down and insisted on it. So, during the actual set itself, they let us come out again. If you watch the show - have you seen it?

Yes I have.
If you watch it - during the show - before they go to commercial, they always go to this jack-o-lantern. This carved pumpkin. If you watched it during the song, you'll see one of our guys, this guy named Bill MacKenzie, coming out holding the pumpkin above his head because he's just getting ready to smash it. And that's when they cut it off. They kicked us out and locked us out for two hours. We were locked in a room because they were so angry with us about the behavior. I didn't think it was that big of deal.

They locked you in a room?
Yeah, we were locked in a room. They said they were going to sue us and have us arrested for damages. There was so much hype about that. The New York Post reported half a million dollars worth of damages. It was nothing. It was a plastic clip that got broken. It was a very interesting experience and I realized how completely unnatural it is for a band to be on a television show - particularly a punk band - that kind of has a momentum to suddenly be expected to immediately jump into a song in that type of setting. It was very weird. Largely unpleasant. Made me realize that's not something I'm interested in doing.

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