November 13, 2007

fugazi is the law! (p: mas não era zévi metal is the law? r: eh pá, varia!! não me chateies!!...)


O que se segue é uma entrevista que eu fiz aos Fugazi, quando ainda era uma chavaleca fanzineira, e que me foi gentilmente respondida pelo Guy Picciotto a 20 de Março de 2002.
A coisa já é um pouco antiga e imberbe, mas como, na altura, não chegou a ser publicada, fica o registo para a posteridade, na sua versão original, que eu, cada vez mais, detesto traduções!
Aqueles que não podem, não querem, ou não sabem ler contentam-se com o vídeo.

Tell me a little about the story behind Fugazi... Who are you, where are you from, when did you form the band and other trivial stuff.
Fugazi is a band from Washington DC. the four of us in the band were all friends who met as part of the DC punk rock scene of the early 80's. The drummer Brendan and I have been friends and bandmates since 1983 having played in bands together like Rites of Spring and One Last Wish. Ian was in bands like Minor Threat and Embrace as well as having formed the label Dischord that we all recorded for. Around 1986, our bassist Joe and Ian started playing together after their other bands had broken up. Though Brendan was still in a band with me called Happy Go Licky, he also started playing drums with what became Fugazi. In 1987 they played their first show - once Happy Go Licky broke up in early 1988, I joined the band as well. Since then, we have just done what all bands do - played a lot of shows, recorded albums and wrote songs.

Do you do anything else besides playing in a band?
Yeah - I also do engineering and production work with bands. Over the years I've done stuff with bands like Blonde Redhead, the Make Up, Quix-o-tic and others. I also have a record label called Peterbilt that is pretty underground but I've released a bunch of things over the years. Last year I put out a CD by a band called Octis.

How does it feel like to be an influence to a lot of people/bands? A big responsibility or even a burden?
I don't really feel it as a burden - to me its more like a reciprocal chain of events. When I first started playing music I was inspired by people like Patti Smith, the Cramps, the Clash and the Bad Brains and I continue to be inspired and influenced by bands now. That's the way music works, influences and inspiration are passed around like viruses. If people pick up the inspiration virus from me - then it's just like paying back on the debt I already owe so many other musicians.

Which ideas and ideologies/political theories and causes bind the different personalities that constitute this band? Are you involved in any political activities?
It's more like we share a common political sensibility but I wouldn't limit it to any specific ideologies - we consider our politics to be about the things we do, not necessarily the things we say. There is a lot of rhetoric that goes around but we would rather be judged by the way we act in the world. To this end, we consider playing protests, political benefits and rallies to be a worthwhile function for a band. That kind of action directly leads to concrete support for the causes we want to be affiliated with. Over the years we have played concerts in aid of health charities, prison reform groups, protests against US foreign policy, etc.

Can you explain in a few words what was the "revolution summer"? How did the so-called 'Washington DC-sound' came to be?
"Revolution summer" was not really a self conscious phenomenon at the time it was happening. Basically, it was just a point in the trajectory of the music scene here in DC where bands tried to re-assert a vision of what music could be - the scene had kind of bogged down into violence and ritualization so a group of bands just tried to offer an alternative. It coincided with a greater political awareness with protests against things like the apartheid policy of the South African government but it also involved an aesthetic regrouping... An attempt to push the music forward. Like I said, at the time we didn't label it as significantly as people talk about it now. At the time it just felt like we were getting on with the work at hand.
As far as a common DC sound - I don't know how it would be defined because to me the bands all sound very different. I don't hear them as being that linked necessarily at least sound-wise but maybe I am just too close to it to be objective.

Why have you never recorded any video clips for your songs?
We just feel that the majority of outlets for video clips are things like MTV and VH1, corporate entities that just don't seem to be doing anything beyond creating more lame advertising. Most videos are just grotesque moving billboards used for marketing purposes - the creativity is stifled by the underlining intent.
We have collaborated on some short films with a director named Jem Cohen which try to explore other ways of combining images and music but they don't fit the accepted definition of what passes for a 'video' nowadays.

What do you think about the mainstream music industry? What's it like to be living outside that same industry for all these years?
The mainstream music industry is not necessarily any more evil than any other capitalist enterprise - the idea is to maximize profits but instead of tires, shoes or candybars , they are selling sound. We simply don't want what we do to be mistaken as just another such product. For us the music we make is an extension of ourselves and we don't really want it put through the corporate mill like a sausage. Having made that decision, we just had to find other avenues to work in and really it wasn't that tough. A lot of work is involved but the freedom it allows makes it worth it.

And what about the mainstream music press... A necessary evil? Have they been bothering you a lot lately?
There is nothing necessary about the mainstream music press - in fact, that is something we have been trying to disprove all along: the idea that you have to hold your nose and go ahead with certain entanglements that you might not otherwise be into but you simply feel forced to participate with. Actually there is absolutely no requirement to say yes to anyone or anything to make your music. Our position, is make your own road - only do whatever it is that you want to do. Only deal with things that you want to support not things you feel forced to support because of supposed circumstance. Create a new circumstance.

What do you think of the so-called 'MTV culture'? Do you think it's promoting some kind of a negative message/image amongst the younger (and maybe older) kids?
MTV culture is really the same as most above-ground culture - it's just a diversionary parade of commodities but in this instance one with musical accompaniement.

Which new bands would you recommend? In your opinion, which are the greatest music classics of all time?
New bands I really like are Le Tigre, Erase Errata, Comet Gain, the Ex, Shellac, Quix-o-tic, Orthrelm, Dead Meadow, and El Guapo.
The greatest music classic of all time is the Bad Brains "RoiR Sessions".

And what about books, what kind of stuff do you read?
I read all kinds of stuff all the time. I can't brush my teeth without propping a book on the towel rack. Right now I am reading a great history of the LA punk scene of the 1970's and 80's called "We've Got the Neutron Bomb". It's glorious.

What’s the band's 'policy' on concerts (ticket prices, violence, etc.)?
We have a pretty strict policy in terms of how our concerts are run. First, all our shows must be open to all ages. We will not play in bars that limit the age of people who can attend based on liquor laws. second, we try to charge as little money as possible to make the show happen - in the US it is generally between $5 and $6. We think that allows more people to check out our music and it gives us the freedom to play how we feel without feeling the need to justify a high entertainment tax. We also will not play if we feel people in the audience are fighting or someone is getting hurt. We don't want to act as police, and generally we try to limit the amount of security at our shows, but at the same time we have played too many shows where people have been injured and its not something we can stand for anymore. We want people to have a good time but while at the same time respecting the people around them.

Any plans on playing in Portugal somewhere in a near future? What can we do to bring you guys here? Do you have any 'memoires' of the show you played here (I think it was in 1995)?
We have played Portugal once before and we had a really good time though at the time, I don't think very many people there knew who we were. Still, Lisbon was beautiful and the people we met were really really nice. I'm not sure when we will be back though. At the moment 2 of the guys in the band have young children and its a bit tough on their families if we tour too much. I am sure we will be back eventually but i just can't guarantee when. If people are interested they can stay posted on updates at www.dischord.com.

I haven't had the chance to watch the "Instrument" video yet. How did the idea for that video come up? What's it all about?
The video was basically the director Jem Cohen's idea. He has long been a collaborator with the band having helped us design our record covers and having worked with us on some short films in the past. He had been filming us live for years and finally he had so much footage that the idea of a larger project kind of made itself obvious. The film is basically just a collage of footage that tries to investigate 10 years worth of Jem's interactions with the band as we tour, record and hang out. Together we tried to create interesting, uncliched ways of presenting the material and of integrating the music with the images.

Why the title "End Hits"? Is this misconception intentional?
We didn't anticipate that people would think the title END HITS was supposed to indicate that we were breaking up. We were just trying to conjure a more general sense of impending bad news like "when the end hits" - like from the perspective of a bomb and also a bit of a pun on "Greatest Hits".

In my opinion, the songs in you new album, "The Argument", seem a lot more melodic, perhaps even 'prettier' (if you allow me the expression). What can you tell me about the process of creating this record? Were you influenced by any particular events?
We never really plan our records or our songwriting deliberately... It's just a product of whatever our sensibility is at the time. Our recipe is simple: we just try to write stuff we like. With this batch of songs, it's just the way it came together. We actually recorded the FURNITURE single at the same time as the ARGUMENT stuff, and songs like "#5" and "Hello Morning" are as raging to my ear as anything else we've ever recorded in the past but we just weren't able to get that stuff to fit on the LP. Maybe if that stuff had been on the album then people wouldn't think it was so kicked back or 'pretty' but still i think the album holds together better as a result.

Well, that's it!... Any closing comments?
Thanks a lot for your interest and good luck with the fanzine. Fanzines are totally important!