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Lab Productions interviews

by: trainor 07 Jun 2002
After just kicking off their new US tour, The Lab caught up with one of the most virtuous bands in history. As far as integrity goes, no one comes close to that of Fugazi. Sitting down on a park bench in downtown New Orleans with Ian MacKaye, the interlocutor of rectitude sheds insight.

FugaziLAB: Was there a preconceived plan when recording The Argument? Was the recording process different than past records?

Ian: No. We just try to make records that we thought were good, that sound good to us. There was no charting; we weren�t making any graphs or drawing up a blueprint. We just wrote songs we thought were good, and did the best job we could recording them. We weren�t trying to do anything differently; we just said, �let�s make a great record.� That�s all we�ve ever tried to do.

LAB: What kind of tour schedule do you have lined out for this year? When I spoke to you earlier you had said you guys were taking some time off because Joe just had a kid.

Ian: Joe and Toni had their baby in September; Brendan has two kids now, so basically our tour schedule is really tight. We are only off for a couple of weeks at a time. This is our first tour in almost seven months. We might do another couple of weeks in June, and that�d be it for another four or five months, so a very light schedule.

LAB: You had said that you were going to head back down to New Orleans for JazzFest. Just coming down to hang out, or is there anything in particular you wanted to catch?

Ian: Nope. I just like to walk around. I just like the fact that I am by myself; I can walk around and do what ever I have to do. I can look at whatever I want to look at. If I don�t like it I can walk away, if I do like it then for whatever reason I will sit and watch it. I just drink iced tea and walk fast.

LAB: What�s your take on live records, and do you guys plan on releasing any live tracks to help capture the essence of your performance?

Ian: We�ve thought about doing live records, it�s been a little difficult for us in terms of trying to find, like, is it more important to have best sounding or a best performance or the most interesting performance? Frankly, there isn�t that many examples, I don�t think, of a lot of at least current bands that I would rather listen to a live performance versus their studio records. I mean, what live record would you pick before listening to a studio album?

LAB: Hmmm. I have always been pretty partial to Ministry�s In Case You Didn�t Feel Like Showing Up. I think that really captures the experience of the band and the intensity of the performance.

Ian: I don't think I've heard it. But in terms of a live record, we have like a thousand live tapes. We just don�t have the patience to sit down and go through them. Maybe eventually there will be some historical reason to do it, but we want to focus our energy on the new stuff instead of the old.

Speaking of the guys from Ministry, care to reflect on the days of Pailhead?

Ian: Just Al in the studio, he�s a real nice guy. He asked if I wanted to sing on a song, so I did and it was good. Then he asked if I wanted to do some more and I said sure. I haven�t seen Al in like 10 years. He�s up in Chicago and I am in DC, so Al don�t cross paths often. I liked the Pailhead record, had a good time making it.

LAB: I really dig that noisy industrial sound on that record, sorta that dirty Chicago sound. Got any ties or done anything with Steve Albini?

Ian: Steve�s actually a good friend of mine. A nice guy, an excellent engineer. A very incredible person, I think. A great musician, a really intelligent guy, very well spoken. He is concise, and sometimes a bit of a fucking smartass. (laughs)

LAB: Yeah, he is a little notorious for that. I have these old Big Black videos where he is just this really skinny little guy, screaming fuck you at the crowd. It is great.

What is your stance on merchandising, why is it non-existant? I used to have this t-shirt back in high school, like 1990, that said �This is NOT a Fugazi T-shirt.� Obviously that was back in the day, but still there is nothing available other than the records.

Ian: I don�t know. I guess the whole idea just seemed weird to us. I mean, we were a band, we wanted to make music, and yet our first tour we did we didn�t even have records out, we were just on tour. So we pulled into this little town and these kids ran up to us before we even played and were like, �where are your T-shirts?� and we were like, �we�re not selling any.� They were like, �What? You�re not selling any shirts?� and they got angry at us. We were basically like �Why?� We didn�t want to sell stuff. We make music, we sell records, that�s about it. Actually, that t-shirt that you bought was a result of me busting a company in Boston that were selling Fugazi shirts, and I told them they had to stop. So that�s how they came up with the �This is Not a Fugazi Shirt.� So I was like, �Yeah, that�s funny. Since you are so creative, lets see you be creative with the royalties that you are generating. Lets see you give that money to any charitable organization of your choice in Boston.� And for years they gave the money to a woman�s shelter up there, all the money that shirt generated. But we�ve never made any shirts, or stickers or anything else, so virtually everything you see is an example of the kind of avarice that exists in that kind of parallel economy, which is next to music. You know, people sell t-shirts, stickers, wallet chains, parking spaces, whatever. It�s just parallel economies. That�s what�s really going on. It just gets kind of disgusting after a while. And I am pleased to have never been involved in it.

FugaziLAB: What about the bootleg industry, as far as your music goes? Are you against that?

Ian: Not as much really. A lot of bootleg stuff tends to be fairly squarely focused on the music, a lot of the time it is the fans doing it. There have been a few examples, bootlegs that have been very sub par, people are being pretty disgusting and exploitative. For the most part, though, most of the bootlegs I have seen have some relative historical significance, and some interesting aspects to them, and they don�t sell that many -- we�re talking like a few hundred bucks, who cares. I mean, both of these issues, I am just not concerned with them. You want to talk about problems; there are plenty of other much bigger problems in the world. People getting the shit blown out of them or riddled with disease, now there�s a problem. Fugazi t-shirts are not a problem.

LAB: Ever kicked around doing any other records with some of the other projects you�ve worked on, like Embrace or Egghunt?

Ian: No, I don�t think I will ever release anything under those names again. That I would not do. I�m always making music, so I am not counting on it, and I am not discounting it either. Basically, I am always working. A lot of people seem to have this illusion that when we are not playing their town that we are home playing golf or something, which is not the case. We work really fucking hard. When you manage yourself, you manage all your own affairs, put out all your own records, do your own booking, your own driving, you do everything. It�s a lot of work. I don�t have much leisure time in my life. But if someone comes along and says, �hey, you want to work on something?� I might say yes. I might say no. I have said no many times. Just depends on the circumstance.

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For more information on Fugazi, check out these websites:

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