Saturday, 25 February 2012

Non-Sequitur the First: Fugazi

Decided to start a series of little posts about music that I've been listening to and why I like it, focusing on the slightly less expected ends of things. To that end, these are some words about Fugazi:

Fugazi seem to one of those bands that people normally discover quite early on. I only got into them properly in the past year or so. Prior to listening to them I had been aware of Minor Threat for much longer, but whilst I do like them, their music compared to that of Fugazi is a lot simpler and more direct, less complex. Fugazi are a band that I feel I almost feel 'motivated' to like, for a number of reasons. I guess those reasons are mainly to do with their combination of intelligence and integrity, which got manifested in all sorts of ways: the high number of benefit shows they would play, insisting on keeping a low entry fee to all their gigs, starting their own label (Dischord) and running that side of things off their own backs rather than through a major label, their lyrics (obviously), talking openly to the fans at their shows, not acting like rock stars, not producing merchandise or advertising anything ever, etc. etc.

Beyond all this though, their music is really worth exploring for it's own sake. It's punk, and it has distorted guitars and some shout-along choruses, but the way it's arranged, and the way each part of it fits together has a lot more thought involved than other bands from the same sort of scene. So far I've been listening to their first album '13 Songs', a little bit of a couple of later albums called 'Red Medicine' and 'Steady Diet of Nothing' and their last album, called 'The Argument'. 'The Argument' is definitely my favourite, it's the most diverse and considered I think. '13 Songs' does include 'Waiting Room', which is probably their most famous song, and the one to listen to first.

I have an ambiguous relationship with a lot of the things Minor Threat and Fugazi have given birth to, like the straight edge movement, and hardcore in general. As someone who currently doesn't drink or smoke at present, (not permanently, hopefully) I appreciate the fact that there is a straight edge movement. This is the first part of a pretty cheesy American documentary about the whole thing:

However, what I don't like about the straight edge movement, and also about hardcore, is the rejection of mainstream rules and dogmas in favour of a new set of dogmas, which if transgressed lead to disapproval/ostracism. One of these seems to be that most hardcore bands sound (to my ears anyway) very similar.
Fugazi, on the other hand, are constantly inventive with the way they arrange songs, with the noises their guitars make, and with the way they phrase things lyrically. They seem to ally integrity and genuine feeling with originality.
This is Ian Mackaye, formerly of Fugazi and Minor Threat, talking about how he feels when he plays music:

And finally, this is my current favourite Fugazi song:

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