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The Talon

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The Talon

The Talon

Ian MacKaye, the father of hardcore-punk

How Ian MacKaye’s bands change over the years and how he influenced the entire punk scenes morals to shift.

Minor Threat is a punk rock band formed in Washington in the 80´s by lead singer Ian Mackaye and drummer Jeff Nelson. Later on, bassist Steve Hansgen and guitarists Brian Baker,  and Lyle Preslar, would find their way in the band. 

The band was only together for three years (1980-1983), but somehow in just those three years of playing, Minor Threat remains one of the most popular punk bands, alongside Black Flag and Misfits. 

Minor Threat’s music is fast-paced and heavy, and they are considered to be the first straight edge hardcore-punk band, meaning they live an abstinent lifestyle– they don’t smoke, drink, do any drugs, ect. They introduced complying with the concepts of being “straightedge”, and even expresses their thoughts on it through their songs. 

Like their song “Straightedge” from their first album “First Two Seven Inches”, the song quotes, “I’m a person just like you but I’ve got better things to do than sit around and “mess with” my head.” 

Usually, punk rock listeners are stereotyped as druggies, but the song Straightedge advocates bettering oneself and avoiding drug use and any other mind altering substance/action. Ian Mackaye and his band members make people think about the punk scene in an entirely different perspective. 

After the band broke up in 1983, Ian Mackaye started a new band in 1986 called Fugazi which sounds nothing like Minor threat. 

During his shows for Fugazi, Ian Mackaye takes the meaning of straight edge to a whole other level. Fugazi worked very strangely, but in the best way possible. They had strict rules and requirements Mackaye enforced. 

During Live performances for Fugazi, Ian Mackaye didn’t let anyone crowd surf or stage dive, and if someone did they would immediately be kicked out of the venue.

The maximum ticket price to see them was $5, and no age restrictions. Also If a Fugazi album costs too much at your record store, CDs will be sent to you for $8. 

The band has its own record company, Discord who works in a more punk rock way then big record labels ¨ Discord, supports independent distributors and stores, spurns overtures from major labels and doesn’t talk much to the mainstream press¨…¨But its equally prepared to deplore the excesses of the punk community.¨

Since Mackaye’s first band was Minor Threat, all his prior fans were punk rockers so it’s ironic that Fugazi has all these rules when Mackayes prior fanbase from Minor Threat are stereotypically famous for hating rules. 

But if you really think about it these rules Mackaye made were the epitome of punk rock. A rule where his own record label will personally send you a cd for less money if you can’t afford it is such a considerate thing to do that no other record label has done before. His rule of no “stage diving” at his shows goes completely against the punk scene that in a way makes Fugazi even more punk rock then the scene itself.

In the Los angeles times Mackaye explains that these rules are not because he rather live by a set of rules every day over playing music, but he has these rules to control how his music is being played and put out in the world so he can sit comfortably with the fact that him and his band mates produced music the way they wanted to and the way they felt was right. 


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About the Contributor
Grace Costello, Music and Content Editor
Music and Content Editor Grace Costello has been in the Communications and Journalism Program for four years and is in the Class of 2024. She was inducted into the Manchester Township High School chapter of the Quill and Scroll International Honor Society for High School Journalists in November 2022. Grace is excited and honored to have her own column and write about her biggest interest, local New Jersey bands and supporting our local music scene. Grace wants to involve her fellow peers in discovering new music they might end up loving, and provide details for inexpensive concerts that are also close to home. She has a love for music and the arts and enjoys channeling her creativity in her writing. Grace's column is personal to her because she loves the local concert scene involving bands ranging from hardcore, metal, indie, rock, and more. Grace believes that local shows help people branch out with their music tastes and looks forward to sharing her enthusiasm about music with the Manchester community.