FUGAZI (/fuˈɡɑːzi/ ; foo-GAH-zee ) is an American post-hardcore
band that formed in
Washington, D.C. in 1987. The band consists of
guitarists and vocalists
Ian MacKaye and
Guy Picciotto , bassist Joe
Lally and drummer
Brendan Canty .
Fugazi are noted for their DIY ethical stance, manner of business
practice, and contempt towards the music industry.
Fugazi have performed numerous worldwide tours, produced six studio
albums, a film and a comprehensive live series, gaining the band
critical acclaim and success around the world.
Fugazi has been on an
indefinite break since 2003.
* 1 History
* 1.1 Formation and early years (1986–1989)
Fugazi EP he later admitted he secretly harbored the idea of
joining the group. But Picciotto was disappointed that there seemed to
be no place for him.
After some uncertainty from Canty about what he wanted to do with his
future, the trio regrouped and booked their first show at the Wilson
Center in early September 1987. The group still needed a name, so
MacKaye chose the word "fugazi" from Mark Baker's Nam, a compilation
of stories of
Vietnam War veterans, it there being a slang acronym for
"Fucked Up, Got Ambushed, Zipped In ".
The band began inviting Picciotto to practices. Inspired by use of a
foil in hip hop , Picciotto sang backup vocals. After his band Happy
Go Licky broke up, he became more involved with Fugazi. MacKaye
eventually asked Picciotto to become a full member, which he accepted.
FUGAZI EP codecs="vorbis"" data-title="Original Ogg file (62 kbps)"
data-shorttitle="Ogg source" data-width="0" data-height="0"
data-bandwidth="62444" /> Sample of "Repeater", from Repeater (1990)
Problems playing this file? See media help .
With Picciotto playing guitar full-time,
Fugazi made the transition
into jamming and writing new material as a band as opposed to
performing songs composed solely by MacKaye. In addition to working on
new material, songs they had been performing live were refined, such
as "Merchandise" and "Turnover", for inclusion on their first official
full-length studio album.
Released on April 19, 1990, through
Dischord Records , Repeater did
not initially reach the
Billboard 200 charts or become a commercial
success. However, the band spent most of 1990 and 1991 touring heavily
behind Repeater, performing a total of 250 concerts between March 1990
and June 1991, routinely selling out 1,000-plus capacity venues
throughout the world. By summer 1991, the album sold more than 300,000
copies, a large number for a label that relied on minimal promotion.
While major labels began to court Fugazi, the band decided to stay
with Dischord and refused the offers of those labels. Repeater
ultimately went on to sell more than 1 million copies in the U.S.
alone, and more than 2 million worldwide. The album was critically
well received and featured an alternative rock sound that pre-dated
significant releases such as Nirvana 's
Pearl Jam 's Ten
, which would unexpectedly go on to break the genre into the
For Fugazi's second studio-album
Steady Diet of Nothing , released in
July 1991, the band once again asked
Ted Niceley to produce. Nicely
had become a chef and had to reluctantly turn down the job, so the
band members decided to produce the record themselves. After the
success of Repeater and its subsequent world tour, Steady Diet was
highly anticipated, six months prior to its release Dischord had
pre-orders in excess of 160,000 for the album.
IN ON THE KILL TAKER AND RED MEDICINE (1993–1996)
Fugazi recorded its third album
In on the Kill Taker in the fall of
Steve Albini in Chicago; however, the results were deemed
unsatisfactory and the band re-recorded the album with Ted Niceley
released on June 30, 1993, became the group's first record to enter
the Billboard album charts, received critical praise from Spin , TIME
Rolling Stone , sold 180,000 copies in its first week of
release and subsequently became the band's breakthrough album.
In on the Kill Taker tour, the group began to sell-out large
auditoriums and arenas, as well as receive more lucrative major label
offers. During the band's sold-out 3-night stint at New York City's
Roseland Ballroom in September 1993, music mogul and Atlantic Records
Ahmet Ertegün met with the band backstage in an attempt to
sign them. Ertegün offered the band "anything you want", their own
subsidiary label and more than $10 million just to sign with Atlantic.
Fugazi declined the offer. The organizers of
attempted to recruit the band for a headlining slot on its 1993 tour,
which the band considered but ultimately turned down.
"Combination Lock" Sample of "Combination Lock", from Red
Problems playing this file? See media help .
Fugazi began writing the material for
Red Medicine in late 1994,
after touring in support of
In on the Kill Taker . The band worked
Don Zientara , but did not choose to work with producer
Ted Niceley again.
Fugazi opted to retreat from the in-your-face
production values of
In on the Kill Taker and instead worked to create
an ambient sound which would display greater range and depth. To
achieve this, the band handled production duties themselves, and in
doing so, became more confident with in-studio experimentation. Red
Medicine would take
Fugazi a step further toward art rock . The band
began an extensive worldwide tour in support of the album, playing a
total of 172 shows between March 1995 and November 1996. McKaye
Fugazi at the Academy 1 in Manchester
England on 30th
END HITS AND THE ARGUMENT (1997–2002)
After the grueling worldwide tour the band had completed in support
of Red Medicine,
Fugazi took an extended break and also began writing
material for a follow up release. By March 1997
Fugazi had once again
Inner Ear Studios with producer/engineer
Don Zientara to
begin recording what would become the
End Hits album with the
intention of taking a more relaxed approach to recording and a longer
amount of time to experiment with different songs and techniques in
the studio. The group ultimately spent 7 months recording the album.
Due to the title, rumors began circulating at the time that it was to
be their last release. Released on April 28, 1998 the album was
commercially successful and marked one of the band's highest debuts
yet on the
Billboard charts . However, critical reaction to End Hits
was mixed. Many critics praised the album's heavier tracks, while
others questioned the inclusion of the group's longer, more
"Full Disclosure" Sample of "Full Disclosure", from The
Problems playing this file? See media help .
Fugazi began work on
The Argument in 1999. This process saw the group
taking more time than usual to write and demo material. Each member
would bring his own individual riffs and ideas to the band, jam on
them, and then begin piecing the songs together into various
configurations before deciding on what would become the final
versions. The album's recording sessions took place between January
and April 2001 at
Inner Ear Studios and Dischord House in Arlington,
VA , located just outside
Washington D.C. The band once again worked
Don Zientara . During the recording process a
considerable amount of time was spent finalizing each song's
production, in particular the album's drum tracks, in an effort to
give it a unique feel.
Brendan Canty explained to Modern
Drummer that "We recorded them all very differently in terms of the
drum sounds. We used a lot of different cymbals, snares, and ways of
The Argument was released by
Dischord Records on October 16, 2001,
along with the EP
Furniture + 2 , almost 4 years after the release of
End Hits . The album was met with critical and commercial success
Billboard charts and selling over 170,000 copies in its
first week of release. Arion Berger of
Rolling Stone called the album
"bracing" and "intellectual" and Chris True of
AllMusic referred to
the album as "spine-tingling and ear-shattering all at once" stating
that, "the band has raised the bar for themselves and others once
again." He also noted that the album had "touched on strange new
territory." By this point
Fugazi were on tour less frequently, due in
large part to other professional and personal commitments, they
performed only 32 shows in 2001 and 2002 respectively.
INDEFINITE HIATUS AND REUNION RUMOURS (2003–PRESENT)
Fugazi went on what they have called an "indefinite hiatus" after the
conclusion of their 2002 UK tour following 3 sold-out nights at the
London Forum in
England on November 2, 3, 4, 2002. The hiatus was
brought on by the band members' insistence on spending more time with
their families and to pursue other professional projects.
Fugazi went on hiatus in 2003, rumors began circulating
regarding a possible reunion, with some insinuating that the band may
get back together to headline the
Coachella Festival . While the band
has confirmed that they have been offered large sums of money to
reunite and headline festivals, such as Coachella, they have so far
declined the offers.
In March 2011, MacKaye reiterated that
Fugazi has "been offered
insane amounts of money to play reunions, but it’s not going to be
money that brings us back together, we would only play music together
if we wanted to play music together and time allowed it".
In November 2011, when asked by
The A.V. Club about the possibility
of a reunion and a follow up to 2001's
The Argument , bassist Joe
Lally stated that "
The Argument was a great record that we should try
and top. It’ll take some time to come together and everything. To do
that, we’d have to, the way the four of us are, we would take quite
some time, I think, re-associating ourselves musically, and then just
letting it come about naturally, because it would have to be a natural
thing. So we’ll just see."
In August 2014, Dischord announced an official release for First Demo
, an album featuring 11 demo songs recorded in January 1988. The
announcement included a preview of the demo for the
"Merchandise." The eleven-track album was released on November 18,
SIDE PROJECTS AND RELATED WORK
In the hiatus, the members undertook side projects, with MacKaye
forming the duo
The Evens with drummer and singer Amy Farina (formerly
of the Warmers ).
In 2004, MacKaye produced the
DC EP for former Red Hot Chili Peppers
John Frusciante , which also featured Jerry Busher.
Canty has been doing a variety of soundtrack scores and playing bass
in the trio Garland Of Hours alongside frequent
Jerry Busher and Amy Domingues, and has played bass live
Mary Timony . Canty also appears on
Bob Mould 's 2005 album Body
of Song and on Mould's 2008 album District Line , and has toured with
Mould, appearing in the live DVD Circle of Friends. He is currently
working in the Burn to Shine DVD series which is being released by
Trixie DVD. Now, he is playing in Deathfix alongside Devin Ocampo
(Medications, Faraquet, Smart Went Crazy, Beauty Pill), Rich Morel
(Bob Mould, Blow Off) and Mark Cisneros (Medications, The Make-Up).
They will release their album in February 2013 on
Dischord Records .
Lally has released three solo albums,
There to Here (2006), Nothing
Is Underrated (2007), and Why Should I Get Used To It (2011). He has
also appeared on fellow DC post-punkers
Decahedron 's debut album
Disconnection_Imminent, as well as on a project with Red Hot Chili
John Frusciante and
Josh Klinghoffer , known as
Ataxia . The group has recorded two albums,
Automatic Writing (2004)
AW II (2007).
Picciotto currently works as a record producer most notably with
Blonde Redhead and The Blood Brothers , and he has performed alongside
members of The Ex at the
Jazz festival in
Austria . Picciotto
also contributed guitar on two
Vic Chesnutt albums, 2007's "North Star
Deserter and 2009's
At the Cut (co-producing the latter), for
Constellation Records and performed live with Chesnutt and members of
Thee Silver Mount Zion Memorial Orchestra and The Quavers in Jem Cohen
's program entitled, "Evening's Civil Twilight in Empires of Tin at
Vienna International Film Festival (Viennale) in 2007 (a DVD of
the program was released in 2009). Picciotto played guitar on
Chesnutt's Fall/Winter 2009 North American Tour. He has a daughter
Kathi Wilcox from the band
Bikini Kill and The Frumpies
In July 2011, Minneapolis based record label
Doomtree released an
album of mash-ups between
Fugazi and east coast veteran rap crew the
Wu-Tang Clan . The album is titled 13 Chambers, group name Wugazi.
Fugazi itself did not have any involvement with the release.
Joe Lally was asked about his thoughts on the Wugazi release,
and stated "I think they could've found better
Fugazi pieces to sample
with Wu-Tang guys rapping on it. I mean, it’s enjoyable, and I do
appreciate it for the fact that somebody enjoys our music enough to
bring it into that. But, you know, I don’t know. I guess I should
shut up, because I suppose I'm about to run into these people at the
Fun Fun Fun Fest festival and talk to them. But I’m afraid that is
my opinion on it. It's like, get better samples of our stuff, do
In October 2012, Chris Lawhorn released
Fugazi Edits. The album
includes 22 instrumental tracks, which sample 100 songs from Fugazi's
discography. As in other cases, the band had no involvement in the
production. But, the album was authorized for release by MacKaye, with
the proceeds going to charity.
Fugazi Live Series Handmade tickets for a Fugazi
concert from 2001 in Indianapolis, Indiana
Between 1987 and 2003,
Fugazi played over 1000 concerts in all 50 US
states and all over the world. Over 800 of these shows were recorded
by the band's sound engineers. Beginning in 2004 and continuing into
Fugazi launched a 30 CD Live Series that featured concerts from
various points in their career, which were made available for sale via
Dischord Records . Continuing with the live series concept and after
several years of development on December 1, 2011
Fugazi launched a
comprehensive Live Series website through
Dischord Records that
features 750 recordings available for download at the suggested price
of $5 each or a "pay what you want " sliding scale option for each
download between $1–100 with the goal of eventually making all 800
of the shows that have been recorded available for purchase. For $500
fans can also purchase an "All Access" privilege which will include
access to any future concerts and downloads added to the site.
While each concert was professionally mastered, the recordings
capture everything that happened onstage and for preservation's sake
the band chose not to edit anything out, singer/guitarist Guy
Picciotto explained to the
New York Times
New York Times , "We liked this idea of,
'Let's just let it be everything,' ... There doesn't have to be the
idea that this is the great, golden document. It's all there, and it's
not cleaned up. You get what you get." The sound quality also varies
as the earliest recordings were made to cassettes , then eventually
digital formats such as DAT ,
CD-R and ultimately hard-drives were
used. Each concert page also includes flyers, photographs and ticket
stubs. As a career-spanning archival project, the
Fugazi Live Series
has few equals, putting the band in the company of acts like the
Grateful Dead ,
Pearl Jam , three notable examples of other
artists with such a large volume of concerts available for purchase.
MUSICAL STYLE AND INFLUENCES
Fugazi is significantly affected by the Clash. The Clash held up an
example of pursuing revolution with punk music and
followed this inspiring example. More importantly,
Fugazi lived out
the rhetoric of the Clash and they convinced people in a more
persuasive way. Joe Strummer (the lead vocalist of the Clash)
Fugazi as the only band who best exemplified punk’s
spirit in the 2000
Rolling Stone interview.
Fugazi's style has been described as post-hardcore , art punk ,
alternative rock , indie rock and experimental rock . Fugazi's
music was an intentional departure from that of the hardcore punk
bands the members had played in previously.
Fugazi combined punk with
funk and reggae beats, irregular stop-start song structures, and heavy
riffs inspired by popular rock bands such as
Led Zeppelin and Queen ,
bands that the punk community of the time largely disdained.
Picciotto became the group's second guitarist when he realized
MacKaye's typically chunky, low-end riffs and Lally's dub -influenced
basslines allowed him to focus on high-pitched parts. In both vocal
and guitar roles, Picciotto assumed the role of a foil to MacKaye;
Rickenbacker guitar for its scratchy single-coil sound in
order to "cut through MacKaye's chunky chording like a laser beam."
Picciotto's assumption of guitar duties allowed all four members of
the band to jam together and write songs that way, where previously
they had played songs largely as MacKaye had arranged them. When
writing songs, the band often rearranges them with different
structures and different singers.
Spin Magazine has listed MacKaye
and Picciotto together at No. 86 on their list of The 100 Greatest
Guitarists of All Time for their unique and interlocking guitar style
Generally, MacKaye's lyrics and singing are more direct and anthemic
(MacKaye admits that he loves audience sing-alongs and writes songs
with shout-able slogans ), while Picciotto usually favors a more
abstract, oblique approach. Lally has contributed vocals to a few
songs as well, in which he sings in a more relaxed, quiet style as
opposed to MacKaye and Picciotto, whose lyrics and vocals often
feature strong emotional intensity. Later,
Fugazi more fully
integrated elements of punk rock, hardcore, soul and noise with an
inventively syncopated rhythm section . Notable is MacKaye and
Picciotto's inventive, interlocking guitar playing, which often defies
the traditional notion of "lead " and "rhythm " guitars. They often
feature unusual and dissonant chords and progressions filtered through
a hardcore punk lens.
When questioned by
Guitar World in 2002 about the band's influences,
Ian MacKaye responded, "Too many to mention. And not
just from the last few years. Some of them predate us by decades, and
most of them wouldn't be punk. I would hope any musician would be
inspired by a lot of different kinds of music."
Each of Fugazi's albums since Repeater have featured an instrumental
song. By the time of 1995's
Red Medicine bassist
Joe Lally also began
contributing vocals to the band and the group was implementing many of
their broader influences into the overall sound. Critics Ian McCaleb
and Ira Robbins declared that Fugazi's music combined an
"unprecedented dynamic range ... and previously unimagined elements"
such as "clattering musique concrète ... piano and sound effects ...
murky dub and lancing clarinet " and "loose-limbed jammy funk ... into
an ambitious, experimental format that raises more stylistic questions
than it answers."
On their first tours,
Fugazi worked out its DIY aesthetic by trial
and error. The group's decisions were partly motivated by pragmatic
considerations that were essentially a punk rock version of simple
living : for example, selling merchandise on tour would require a
full-time merchandise salesperson who would require lodging, food, and
other costs, so
Fugazi decided to simplify their touring by not
selling merchandise. The band was also motivated by moral or ethical
considerations: for example, Fugazi's members regarded pricey
admission for rock concerts as tantamount to price gouging a
performer's most loyal fans. Fugazi's inexpensive target goal of $5
admission was spawned during a conversation on an early tour when the
band's members were debating the lowest profitable admission price.
In later years and at many venues, particularly on the east and west
coasts of the U.S.,
Fugazi was unable to get ticket prices below about
$10–$15 total. However, it never saw the $5 rule as inviolable,
instead aiming to charge a price that was both affordable and
profitable. Unlike some similar, independent rock contemporaries,
Fugazi's performances and tours were always profitable, due to the
group's popularity, low business overhead costs, and MacKaye's keen
sense of audience response in given regions.
Fugazi's early tours earned it a strong word-of-mouth reputation,
both for its powerful performances, and also for the band's eagerness
to play in unusual venues. The group sought out alternatives to
traditional rock clubs partly to relieve the boredom of touring, but
also hoping to show fans that there are other options to traditional
ways of doing things. As Picciotto said, "You find the Elks Lodge ,
you find the guy who's got a space in the back of his pizzeria, you
find the guy who has a gallery. Kids will do that stuff because they
want to make stuff happen."
The group (MacKaye in particular) also made a point of discouraging
violent, unwanted slam dancing and fistfights, which it saw as relics
of the late 1970s/early 1980s hardcore punk era. Michael Azerrad
quotes Mackaye, "See, have one form of communication: violence ... So
to disorient them, you don't give them violence. I'd say, 'Excuse me,
sir...'- I mean, it freaks them out – 'Excuse me, sir, would you
please cut that crap out?'" Azerrad writes, " admonitions seemed
preachy to some. And by and large, people would obey – it wasn't
cool to disrespect Ian MacKaye." Occasionally,
Fugazi would have an
unrepentant slam-dancer escorted from the concert, and give them an
envelope containing a $5 refund (the group kept a stock of such
envelopes in their tour van for these occasions).
During the summer of 1990 MacKaye formed the corporation Lunar
Atrocities Ltd. in order to shield his own and his bandmates'
personal assets from the threat of lawsuits. As MacKaye’s financial
advisor, Seth Martin, explained to the Washington Post in a 1993
interview: "protection from liability is the main reason to form a
corporation, and for these guys it makes sense. If someone got hurt
stage-diving and decided to sue, it would be harder to go after their
Ian MacKaye – vocals , guitar (1986–present)
Joe Lally – bass guitar , vocals (1986–present)
Brendan Canty – drums (1987–present)
Guy Picciotto – vocals (1987–present), guitar (1989–present)
Colin Sears – drums (1986)
Jerry Busher – additional drums, trumpet (1998–2002)
* Repeater (1990)
Steady Diet of Nothing (1991)
In on the Kill Taker (1993)
Red Medicine (1995)
End Hits (1998)
The Argument (2001)
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* ^ Azerrad, p. 384.
* ^ Azerrad, p. 385.
* ^ Baker, p. 321.
* ^ Azerrad, p. 386.
* ^ Azerrad, p. 396.
* ^ Azerrad, p. 398.
* ^ A B Azerrad, p. 399.
* ^ A B ^ a b c d Perlah, Jeff. "The Independent".
* ^ Azerrad, p. 407.
* ^ *Andersen, Mark; Jenkins, Mark (2001). Dance of Days: Two
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* ^ Freidman, p. 52.
* ^ Norman 1993
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* ^ "Approaching Oblivion: Ian Mackaye Interview (Minor Threat,
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* ^ A B "Interview: Joe Lally".
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* ^ "
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* ^ "
Fugazi – "Merchandise" (Demo) - Stereogum". Stereogum.
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* ^ "
Fugazi - First Demo". Dischord Records. Retrieved 13 February
* ^ Joe Gross (July 13, 2011). "Wugazi\'s \'13 Chambers\': A
Track-by-Track Breakdown". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2011-07-15.
* ^ "
Fugazi Edits". Cool Hunting. 2013-01-23. Retrieved 2013-01-23.
* ^ "
Fugazi Edits is the Ultimate Mash-up Album". Creators Project.
2012-11-30. Archived from the original on 2012-11-08. Retrieved
* ^ "
Fugazi Live Series: A to Z". Dischord.com. Retrieved 13
* ^ A B "
Fugazi Rises Again, In Online Archive". New York Times.
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* ^ Andersen, Mark (2016). "The Clash and Fugazi: Punk Paths Toward
Revolution". Political Rock. 1.
* ^ Andersen, Mark; Jenkins, Mark (2003). Dance of Days: Two
Decades of Punk in the Nation’s Capital. New York: Akashic Books.
horizontal tab character in title= at position 51 (help )
* ^ Andy Kellman. "
Fugazi Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved
* ^ Carlick, Stephen (July 19, 2010). "
Fugazi Nearly Finished
Massive Live Archive Project".
Exclaim! . Retrieved April 17, 2015.
* ^ Little, Michael (October 17, 2003). "In on the Killjoy".
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* ^ Farseth, Erik (2012). American Rock:
Guitar Heroes, Punks, and
Metalheads (1st ed.). Retrieved January 18, 2017. Fugazi's mixture
Archived April 18, 2014, at the