Washed Up Emo

#154 - Ian MacKaye

June 10, 2019 Tom Mullen Episode 154
Washed Up Emo
#154 - Ian MacKaye
Chapters
Washed Up Emo
#154 - Ian MacKaye
Jun 10, 2019 Episode 154
Tom Mullen

A few months ago, I asked a couple of prior podcast guests Brian Lowit from Lovitt Records and now Dischord Records and John Davis from Q and Not U, if they thought an in-person interview could happen. Through their help and a little timing of a personal wedding in DC set this plan in motion. 

As this podcast gets into its 8th year with no signs of slowing down, I thought it was time to have the person partly responsible for why I first got into straightedge, punk, hardcore, and the DIY ethos I continue to carry through during my day job in the music industry at large. 

Ian couldn’t have been more gracious and after some back and forth and a nice Delta airlines agent, I was there with enough time to do the interview and make the wedding later that day. 

I never expected to have the opportunity to talk to one of my heroes in this setting and for Ian to spent a couple of hours showing me around the Dischord house, the archives and then an interview will be remembered forever.

Show Notes Transcript

A few months ago, I asked a couple of prior podcast guests Brian Lowit from Lovitt Records and now Dischord Records and John Davis from Q and Not U, if they thought an in-person interview could happen. Through their help and a little timing of a personal wedding in DC set this plan in motion. 

As this podcast gets into its 8th year with no signs of slowing down, I thought it was time to have the person partly responsible for why I first got into straightedge, punk, hardcore, and the DIY ethos I continue to carry through during my day job in the music industry at large. 

Ian couldn’t have been more gracious and after some back and forth and a nice Delta airlines agent, I was there with enough time to do the interview and make the wedding later that day. 

I never expected to have the opportunity to talk to one of my heroes in this setting and for Ian to spent a couple of hours showing me around the Dischord house, the archives and then an interview will be remembered forever.

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/washedupemo)

Tom Mullen:

I asked a couple of prior podcast guests, Brian Lowit from Lovitt Records and now Dischord Records and John Davis from Q and Not U. They thought an in-person interview could happen! Through their help (and a little timing of a personal wedding in DC), [we] set this plan in motion. As this podcast gets into its eighth year with no signs of slowing down. I thought it was time to have the person partly responsible for why I first got into straight edge, punk, hardcore and the DIY ethos I continue to carry through my day job in the music industry at large. Ian couldn't have been more gracious. After some back and forth and a nice Delta Airlines agent, I was there with enough time to do the interview and make the wedding later that day. I never expected to have the opportunity to talk to one of my heroes in this setting. For Ian to spend a couple hours showing me around the Dischord House, the archives, and then an interview will be remembered forever.

Ian MacKaye:

Ian MacKaye, Dischord House, May 24th, 2019.

Tom Mullen:

Talking with Tom from Washed Up Emo.

Ian MacKaye:

Yeah. I hope that you always start your interviews with an identification of who's talking, how they pronounce their name, where you are and the date. Yes. As a person who deals with archives, it's really frustrating. I've gone through so many interviews where you just don't hear [that]. You don't have any idea where they are and I think location is actually somewhat interesting. Maybe it's important.

Tom Mullen:

It's context.

Ian MacKaye:

Yeah, it's nice to let people know where you are when you are to talking to them.

Tom Mullen:

The date. People forget the date. That's the thing I'm finding.

Ian MacKaye:

Or the year. Lots of time they'll say, "Oh yeah, May 24th."

Tom Mullen:

How much time is spent archiving at Discord?

Ian MacKaye:

I will arrange my schedule in blocks, so I don't really know. In other words, like having you here and showing you around - that to me would be filed under "Archiving." Right? Cause that's the point of the archives. [You] should be able to share stuff and show people, if not what's actually being archived, the actual process to give people an idea about maybe ways to organize things and make it so you can actually engage with what you have. I would say... I can say that for the last decade, I have put in an enormous amount of time into the archive work. There's a few factors that went into this decision on my part. One is in 2003, I had a good friend who died and another mutual friend was named Executor. I said, "Well how'd that go?" And he said, "Oh, what a gift." You know, he may have fucked up and killed himself. But he also was super exacting. He enumerated everything he had and directed everything. So as an Executor of the Will, he just had to look at it and was organized. "Okay, this goes to this guy, this comic book goes to here blah blah, the house goes to blah blah." He just did the thing. And I thought about it. I've dealt with a lot of people dying, a lot of death. I've seen the variety of circumstances that occur upon a death. Depending whether somebody has a will or doesn't have a will, and even if they have a will, how clear the will is. But mostly when people die, a lot of times it's just their stuff. And what do you do with their stuff? I think most people's "stuff" means the things that they kind of like, that's their possessions. But in my case, because I'm almost 60 (I'm 57 now), and because I've only lived in three houses basically my entire life and I own two of the houses. My father still lives in the first house, which is the Beecher street address. I have managed to accumulate a lot of materials. I'm not a hoarder. I don't keep trash. But I have a lot of stuff. Because I thought for me, my involvement with punk rock, the music thing that was going on, the social aspects of it, the musical aspect of it - was super important. So I hung onto things because I thought they were important. If I was showing you the fanzine archive that I'm working on with John Davis from University of Maryland. John was also in Q and Not U and Title Tracks and I believe he was a guest on this very show one time. Anyway. You ask me, "Why do you have all these?" I said, "Because people gave them to me." I thought, "This, I'll hang onto it." I just put them on a shelf and I kept 'em, you know, straight and clean. I just thought it was interesting. I thought it was evidence of a society. And like all societies, eventually will be a lost society. And so you want to have some shards of the fucking pottery, right? To say like, "Yeah, these people were here." [Laughs] It's a nice thing to know. So I feel like the fanzine... I hung onto things. I thought this would be an interesting thing to have. Now I hung onto these things largely in just boxes or on shelves and I am pretty much the sole possessor of the knowledge of what everything is. When I show you around, I can show you these really specific things. Say, "Well this is this. This is this. This is that." I know that. Other people would have to guess that. So after going through a series of dealing with people's deaths and thinking about, "When I die (Eventually, right? I'm going to die... Or soon! Who knows?)... Either way, that stuff, someone's got to deal with it." Now technically, you know, it'd be Amy Farina who I'm married to. She's my next or kin. One would assume that you'd be pretty bummed out that I was dead and then to have to deal with this fucking madness? So do the world a favor and start to organize. Once I started that process, I'm sure thinking about it like that, it just dovetailed with a couple of other things. One was there's a fellow named Peter Oleksyk. Peter Oleksyk was an NYU archival art student and he was working in the film department, I guess. He was working with Jim Cohen, the filmmaker who did the Instrument movie with us. I went to high school Jim. So he's trying to help Jim get all of his films in order. And he said to Jim, "Do you have your films anywhere else? And Jim says, "Actually, I have a lot of the Instrument stuff down at Dischord House." So Peter asks if he could come down to check out the Jim Cohen stuff. But when he saw my collection of audio and video and all that stuff, he was like, "Wow, can I make you my final thesis?" Peter, really, he spent probably three months living here and just organizing and getting it straightened out. He's a genius. He was the one that really... he put the audio stuff, specifically the Fugazi recordings into or some kind of order. He created a database and started the whole process that ultimately became Fugazi Live series. It's possible we would have gotten there at some point, but really it was his work that made it possible. Because once you get it cleaned up you say, "Oh yeah, these are tools. We can do... we can use this for that." But when they're all... when the tools are all just in a case closed up, you don't really know what you have. He was able to sort of splay it out and make it more usable. And I think that he really inspired me a lot to continue that work. So I worked with a woman named Lindsay Hobbs on the flyers. I worked with a woman named Mary Noxon on my vinyl stuff and a woman named Nicole Procopinko has worked with me on the correspondence and our cover art. It just continues. It's kind of an unending process. I thought I would stop when I was 55, because at some point you got to stop dealing with the past, but it's not over yet. Got more work to do. There's a lot of stuff here, you know? People say, "What are you doing? Are you doing a book? Or what are you doing?" And I think this is so typical that people think, "Why are you doing this? Like what is the end result?" Well the end result is for it to be organized. That's what I'm doing it for. I'm not thinking like a book, or a movie, whatever. Now those things may come from that.

Tom Mullen:

It's easier to find something if someone said, "I need this demo from..." You can find it.

Ian MacKaye:

Yeah. The point is I work on what's in front of me. That's what I do. So when you pulled up today, I was pulling weeds off this driveway, right?

Tom Mullen:

[Laughs]

Ian MacKaye:

I work on what's in front of me. That's what I do. And that work... Today I was pulling the weeds out of the driveway and that will mean that I can park more easily. So I don't have to deal with [Laughs] you know, whatever. Same way, if you organize your stuff, you don't know what might occur.

Tom Mullen:

Because you can find it.

Ian MacKaye:

Yeah. But... I'm not a goal oriented person. Period. Or if I have a goal, they're very short. Like right now, my goal is to do this interview.

Tom Mullen:

[Laughs] No, you've been saying "Let's go to work."

Ian MacKaye:

Let's do it. Let's just do the thing. You know? I quite enjoy... Not to be presumptuous, but I'm going to say that it seemed like you were... you found that... engaging to hear those recordings for instance. And you're like, "Well that's cool." You know? Or you're looking through something like, "That's interesting." That's really satisfying for me to be able to share stuff. Otherwise it's just me. And it's nice when someone gives a fuck and then I can actually say, "Well here's something you might be interested in." I don't... it's not a commercial thing. It's more about the idea that the world is filled with mystery still. And I love that. Like I'm the guy who listened to Beatles bootlegs. I listened to like 70 hours of the "Let It Be" sessions cause... Me! The "Get Back" session. Just endless them talking. I love that stuff. Love it. I love, I'm fascinated to hear process. So I think that, I don't know if people... This is not to compare our work to The Beatles work at all. It's just to say that I think there are people who'd be interested in... Like, "Well this is cool." I don't know how...

Tom Mullen:

It helps to tell the story. It helps give context. I think if you're hearing the banter back and forth and they say something different and then you hear the song differently. Instead of just hearing the song.

Ian MacKaye:

Well it gives you a sense of the process, yeah. I recoil at the word "story" because I think there's a lot of emphasis on "story."

Tom Mullen:

I remember you mentioned that. Yeah. The word.

Ian MacKaye:

I don't like that. Like, "Oh you know everyone's story is so important." Something's wrong with that. But I haven't quite put my finger on, there's so much going on.

Tom Mullen:

I get what you mean.

Ian MacKaye:

I mean NPR's lost its mind about "story.".

Tom Mullen:

[Laughs]

Ian MacKaye:

Everyone's like, "Oh you know, there's so many stories" and "People have their 'story.'"? And I think... I don't know why people... why are people have... why.. Why "stories?" Why not actions? That's the question.

Tom Mullen:

Like your thing about not having an end. It just, this is what it is. This is what happened.

Ian MacKaye:

That's what life is.

Tom Mullen:

Yeah. It clicked for me cause I do archiving at work and I do it for my podcast and my website. I'm archiving, I'm documenting the scene that wasn't documented. And now it is. But it made, it hit me one...

Ian MacKaye:

Which scene was that?

Tom Mullen:

The 90's, when I was in college. The bands that I loved weren't talked about online or you didn't see. anything..

Ian MacKaye:

...Or not that much. Right. I get you. But yeah.

Tom Mullen:

So then I said, "Oh wait, I know them because I knew the label. Let me talk to them.".

Ian MacKaye:

Right, right, right, right.

Tom Mullen:

And then it snowballed into...

Ian MacKaye:

This thing. Is this a popular podcast?

Tom Mullen:

Yes!

Ian MacKaye:

I don't know!

Tom Mullen:

It's pretty niche, but I have people all over the world that listen.

Ian MacKaye:

Great I'm not saying... I'm just wondering.... I used to have no idea whether this is like one of those things where, you know.. it doesn't matter to me. It could be 10 people or 10,000 or 100,000 or whatever. I'm happy to have a chat.

Tom Mullen:

It's definitely the for that era or those people who associate with punk and hardcore, you know, those bands.

Ian MacKaye:

Right.

Tom Mullen:

It intermixes.

Ian MacKaye:

Got it. So this is the sound of wood, wood being knocked, like... [knocks wood].

Tom Mullen:

[Laughs]

Ian MacKaye:

The one issue I've been having with digital archiving is it's so totally dependent on operating systems. And since it's all witchcraft anyway, it's hard to imagine. Like, paper in [the year] 1600 - it bears some resemblance to paper today. But it'd be very hard for me to imagine that even 30 years from now that whatever devices people are using... whatever the devices are, that they're going to bear much of a resemblance to what people are doing today. I mean, one hopes there always will be... people will continue to... I think about the Fugazi Live Series, which is this enormous website. I mean it's, you know, well over a thousand pages. So much work has gone into it, but if they change operating system, it just doesn't exist anymore.

Tom Mullen:

That scares me.

Ian MacKaye:

Yeah, it should! But I mean... But then I think, "Well." <Pauses> "Nothing really exists anymore anyway, so it's okay." [Laughs]

Tom Mullen:

I guess you're trying to put it in a place where if someone finds it, they know what to do with it.

Ian MacKaye:

I'm saying that right now I have cassette tapes, for instance, that my grandmother recorded in 1970 or something and they play just fine. And that's a format that as long as there are cassette players, we're in business, right? And I feel like that when it comes to [this] digital thing, it really changes. Like where you and I were just looking at... I was showing you I have a table, a desk full of weird old computers. Part of the reason is that there are certain programs that just aren't going to operate on later operating systems. And it's also interesting that the operating systems... Like I went into a... I had a 90's laptop, mid-nineties laptop and I, I was telling you earlier about how I'd have to sit in a car cause the only AC plug that would work was a lighter plug. I turned it on and when the screen came up, I was filled with a sense of, um, it was really like nice because I remembered there was like, my endorphins fired off because that was a laptop we toured with. So we would turn on and we just gaze 'cause we'd get our early email like AOL stuff in the mid-nineties. So, the mission was to take that computer and then you would get to a venue or a hotel and then somewhere in Europe and then you would know we have to take the phone. We had to pick up the email using it on those, a dial up thing. And we had the... I remember I had to... because a phone, the plugs are different. I would literally take the fixture off the wall and I had alligator clips, I just bypass their thing.

Tom Mullen:

Wow.

Ian MacKaye:

Anyway and then we'd get the mail and it was, "Man!" Like it was just incredible. Like "Oh my God, all of these people writing us all these letters!" And, and the just seeing the screen like the, the way that the desktop that I had, which was a sort of textured fake textured red thing. And seeing it, I just immediately I felt the endorphins. I remember how excited I was to see that screen. And then I looked at it and I had no idea how to open up anything because the operating system is so different. And it made me realize that part of computers - the way the technology works is that they're constantly introducing new operating systems and unlike a lot of things, there's something about this particular interaction that erases what came before. So like I can get around on a Mac now, but if you go to a Mac that's 20 something years old or 30 years old... It is really hard to figure out! [Laughs].

Tom Mullen:

Totally different.

Ian MacKaye:

Well it is! Yeah. It's so interesting... My brain, even though at the time I knew, it's like unlike any of the... it's very interesting to me...

Tom Mullen:

Was that the computer that was in "Instrument?" The one where you're sitting in one of the hotel rooms and you're looking over email?

Ian MacKaye:

Probably, it is a black clam shell one.

Tom Mullen:

Yeah.

Ian MacKaye:

Yeah that's probably it. It's just really interesting the thing about how the internet or how the computer technology operating systems, how the way we engage with them, which is very different than say recording stuff. It takes a little while to get up to speed on things. But literally, I could not remember how to navigate this. I mean, I finally figured out, which is also I guess part of the genius of computers is it is intuitive on some degree. In terms of archiving digitally, it's just a matter of redundancy. You just got to keep copying and copying, copying. I don't mess around with the cloud for most things for a variety of reasons.

Tom Mullen:

So you just have those drives?

Ian MacKaye:

I have those drives, but then I have mirror drives. They'd live across the street, at the other office. So I have the drives and then I have every one of the drives is mirrored and every week or so, I'll do like a mirror, I'll update them and then I put them in a different location. And then every five years I replace them all. [Laughs]

Tom Mullen:

Exactly. That's the thing. People forget that they'll go.

Ian MacKaye:

Yeah. So I have a lot of decommissioned drives. They all still work fine. It's weird, some of them just keep working. But I don't hit them that hard. Especially the ones that are the storage ones. They don't get played at all, really. Played? They don't get... Tapped? I don't know what would you call it. But redundancy is kind of that sin. I don't know what else to...

Tom Mullen:

But I think for people today or even bands, they're not thinking about that. They think it's on their phone. They think it's there forever. They upload it to whatever website. That website could go away tomorrow. You could drop your phone and lose everything. And I think there's not a sense of "this needs to be documented." It's almost like, "Well, it's going to be here forever," when it really isn't.

Ian MacKaye:

I don't know if that's a matter... I mean, it may be exacerbated by the cultured Internet? Like the technological culture at the moment. In their early eighties punk scene, people were not thinking like "this stuff is something we're going to keep." People just threw their shit away. Or sold it. They didn't think twice about it. I think it's more about the individual. Like there's certain people who have librarian brains or something. I seem to be one of those people. And Jeff Nelson, who's the other co-owner and founder of Dischord Records, drummer of Minor Threat among other things. Jeff, he and I became friends in high school. There's just something about our brains, like we both were kind of indie collecting but not in the same sense. He and I used to go out digging for soda bottles, old soda bottles. Cause you can find them. If you're near like a country road and there's maybe a corner. A hard corner. If you go five feet out or six feet into the woods by that, you dig down. Because people throw their bottles out the window. [Laughs] You just dig and you find soda bottles. And I used to love going finding soda bottles with him. They're just cool, old, '50s and '60s, painted. I love finding stuff like that. And then he started getting into it, but he would just go buy the bottles and that's where the difference between us, he's a collector that will go buy the stuff.

Tom Mullen:

You're going to go find it.

Ian MacKaye:

I don't want it if I can't find it. I'm not buying anything. To me the joy was really... the joy was not having it. The joy was seeking it. And that's pretty much the way my life is.

Tom Mullen:

So seeking and then...

Ian MacKaye:

The work! Yeah, it's the work. It's not the result. I'm not goal oriented.

Tom Mullen:

One of your quotes, I think it was, "This is our work. No one else is going to document. We should do it."

Ian MacKaye:

Where did I say that?

Tom Mullen:

This was in the Husky... the Huck store. Huck.com or something.

Ian MacKaye:

Oh yeah. Huck from Britain. Yeah. Nice people.

Tom Mullen:

But that quote kind of stuck with me cause it's on you to do it.

Ian MacKaye:

Yeah. Because I have the stuff. It's my crap here [Laughs], so yeah. One thing about DC, the punk scene here, we were documentarians. I remember [Jello] Biafra came here, he used to stay here at the house. Biafra's looking through our tapes and he said, "Man, I cannot believe how much documentation you have of your own bands!" And he said like, "Why did you guys record... Like all of you guys recorded all of your songs!" And I think the reason for this is, is that in cities where music business was... Like New York or San Francisco, LA, Boston, or whatever, bands would save up money, and they would go to the studio and they record two or three of their best songs to make a demo, which they would then pitch to a label. You get the label to pay for a recording, a whole album or something. But in Washington there is no music business like that. You're not pitching shit, right? So if you're a band and you've written a bunch of songs, you get near a device that will record your stuff? You want it all on tape! You gotta do it. You've got to seize the moment. So anytime we got near a studio, we record everything. No reason to hold back because the band was probably going to break up anyway. So get it down. But I think that it was primarily or largely could be tied to the fact that there was no music industry in this town. And that basically if we want something we had to make it ourselves. For people here, there's a lot of people who have like incredible collections. John Stabb, the singer of Government Issue who died a few years ago. He was a very dear friend and I'm close with his wife. At some point I went over to help her look through some stuff and John's collection was so organized. He had incredible stuff. I think really for the people here, it was important. It just meant something. People hung on to it because they're like yearbooks, you know? Something in it for us. And actually, when you think about the Dischord label, the label was started by documenting a recording by a band that had broken up. We could have easily split the money up - we had 800 bucks, we could have taken $200 each - we could have just made cassette copies of the recording we'd made.

Tom Mullen:

And be done.

Ian MacKaye:

And be over. But I think we felt like, "Well this was really important for us. And for our friends. So let's make something that you can hold in your hand."

Tom Mullen:

A document.

Ian MacKaye:

It was a document. And Dischord as a label... Like I think that again, people, if we don't approach music... First off, I don't... I hate the music business. [Laughs] So that makes it just a given. The typical way of doing things is not the way we do things. I think many labels, with new bands, there's this sort of concept that you release a record from a band to try and make something happen for that band. It's speculative. But from my point of view, the bands make something happen and we document that. It's a reversal. We're not trying to put stuff out to make something occur. It's that we saw something occur and we want people to hear about it. This is a different way of looking at it, but it's the same way. Like most most labels and bands will talk about a band will tour in support of a record. Well, just think about that. Why would human beings go on the road to support a piece of plastic or a piece of digital information? That just seems weird. That's what all this is about? The thing that gets sold? I say that the records are in support of the tour. They're in support of sharing with people what this music sounds like so they have a reason to go see the band. It's a reverse, a different way of looking at it. It's a reversal. And it's funny when you, I mean, again, like ours because the industry and capitalism and all that stuff is so central to our way of living [Laughs] that of course it's the thing that gets sold that seems to take precedence over everything. You know, fuck that.

Tom Mullen:

Versus the artist as a whole, right?

Speaker 3:

It's music. Yeah, it's music. So the records exist, I think, to be... Fugazi used to say, our mantra was, "The records are the menu, the shows are the meal." That was our concept. So people can listen to the records and hear the songs, but if they saw us live, they would get them in a whole other context. Because they had a sense of the song, they could really see the way the songs are developed or how... whether they've sped up or slowed down or they're louder or whatever. But you had... but you are in on it. There was a sense of what was going on. But never once did we ever think, "Well, by doing this show, we'll sell more records." That just seems absurd.

Tom Mullen:

...In your journal that you showed me, you know, writing those things down. You were doing it because -

Ian MacKaye:

Seemed important to me. Also I want to remember it. You know?

Tom Mullen:

I think that's really important. I just loved that that was something that you thought about at the beginning. If you could talk about the journals a little bit... You would have the tour dates and the people's information...

Ian MacKaye:

My mother said to me many years ago, she said, "If you write it down, you don't have to remember it." So it took me a while to get really up to speed with my journals. By the mid-eighties I was writing. I'm actually typing up my 1985 journals right now. So I just talked about the first Rites of Spring... (actually that was '84) but the first Embrace show. I just actually just typed about the first Embrace show and I talked about when we decided to call the band "Embrace." It's interesting! What's interesting is when you do this, and my mother is correct in thinking that if you write it down, then your brain is released for having to remember it. Ironically, if you write it down, you probably will remember it because it leaves a trail when you actually commit something to paper or whatever. I think the same is true when you type something up; I'm not sure. I think there's something about the physical act of writing that leaves a trail in your brain. I'll give you an example of what I'm talking about. Some years ago, I had a talk at Yukon up in Connecticut and I took a train up to New Haven. I rented a car to drive up to Storrs, which is the town that Yukon is in. I was driving up I-93, which I had done many times before. Prior to leaving, historically, I would call people and get directions from them. But this was the era of Mapquest. So I just printed out the directions from Mapquest. This is probably 15 years ago, I guess. I'm driving, I've been on this road many times. I've been to Yukon plenty of times and I had the sense of disorientation or dislocation. A really profound sense of it. I was just driving, and I didn't know where I was going and I was like, "What is that about? Why am I feeling that?" And I realized that historically I would call somebody and they would tell me how to get there and they would tell me and I would write it down. So I am actually, while I'm writing it down, I'm drawing a trail in my head. It's verbal, but that's the way, like that's the way humans used to explain things. That "You go down here," "you're looking for the..." You're a hunter and you say "go down to the big rock" and you go, "yeah, there." So because I was just printing out the directions, I was having no engagement with them, I just keep looking down at them. Plus I started wearing reading glasses at that point and I had to take the glasses off and it was raining and it was just fucking a nightmare. So now, and since then, I will get directions from (I don't have a smart phone), but I'll use directions from Google or whoever, then I write them down. I literally write them down and I always know where I'm going. It's just a different way of doing things.

Tom Mullen:

That's funny, today I looked at the directions on my phone, but visualized the numbers and then put the phone away. Yes, it told me, but at least I knew I'm looking for X number, exit seven and instead of waiting.

Ian MacKaye:

As an aside, I've been thinking a lot about this. When I drive or travel, I think of myself as basically a dot, moving on a map. I think with GPS and people following the directions - Do they think of themselves not as a dot, but the world moves around them? They're not a dot moving on a map, but they're fixed and the world is moving around them. It's not better or worse. Just to be clear, I am not a luddite. I may have come to things differently, so I'm not like, "Oh, this is crazy, this new tech." It's just something to think about. That's all.

Tom Mullen:

When someone asks me what I'm listening to, and all I've been using is Spotify or Apple, I don't remember. If we have a session where we're listening to vinyl or we've got my CDs out and someone asks me, I'm going to remember that easier. I can't remember what I typed in or what was playing.

Ian MacKaye:

Well, this is what's so interesting too. I'm wondering now... It could be, I wrote this stuff down in the 80's and I'm typing it up. I wondered if I had just typed up the journal, literally the motion of typing - I can't imagine it would leave the same kind of mental map.

Tom Mullen:

Are you still journaling?

Ian MacKaye:

I don't ever "journal." [Laughs]

Tom Mullen:

Like write down a journal.

Ian MacKaye:

No, not really. I stopped about mid-nineties. First of all, it was hard. I was touring all the time. And when I say "tour," there was no bus. I did almost all the driving for one of the vehicles. You know, we just worked. We'd drive all day, we go to the gig, soundcheck, go have dinner, come back, hang out, talk to people, play the show, drive a few more hours, go to the hotel, sleep, get up the next morning, do it again and again and again and again. So it was hard to have that kind of moment where you could just sit and write. One day I was writing in my journal that I had written in my journal. Which made me feel like I was lapping myself. What did I do the day before? I was writing in my journal. And I was like, "This is crazy. Documentation's gone nuts!" And I stopped. I somewhat regret it. But it doesn't matter. None of it really matters anyway.

Tom Mullen:

You'd said that, in the same Huck story. It'd all burn up, it would all be okay.

Ian MacKaye:

Yeah, of course. Completely fine. Doesn't matter. [Laughs]

Tom Mullen:

It's more the process, the journey.

Ian MacKaye:

It's just the "do." Yeah. The "do." Yeah.

Tom Mullen:

You're just doing it. So if it ends, it ends.

Ian MacKaye:

Yeah. Every day I wake up with something to do that I want to do. That's pretty good.

Tom Mullen:

It was picking weeds earlier. [Laughs] Do you enjoy it? Do you enjoy the archiving?

Ian MacKaye:

I do. I love it. Detective work. That's what I really love. Yesterday I was looking at, some scans of a article that was written in 1980 [about] The Teen Idols and The Untouchables. My brother Shane was in The Untouchables. We did a show at a place called Taj Mahal in Norfolk, Virginia. So kind of a legendary show. It was so rambunctious. It was like a New Wave place, so weird, I mean, just crazy that we went down there. But someone sent me a photocopy or a scan of a photocopy of that article written in The Virginian Pilot about that show. I had never seen before. But in the thing, there's photos and one of the photos shows me and my brother. I forgot we were messing around. We were all like just rolling around on the floor and stuff during, I think it was a DJ and they didn't like the record. If we would just jump up and down the floor, we would make the record skip. [Laughs] So in this photo you see us all like on the floor and stuff. And I thought, "This is incredible! I want to see this photo because it just a scan of a photocopy, right? And it's also a free newspaper. So you already have like the dots (in the photo). So then I looked up the photographer. So last night I probably spent an hour doing research trying to find this person. Haven't found them yet, but I have some leads. I love this stuff.

Tom Mullen:

Wouldn't the library or the local have the... what was it, microfiche?

Ian MacKaye:

Yeah, but I'd want the print of the actual negative. What you have in libraries is microfiche. But those are like pretty low-res scans of the newspaper. You can read them. They're good for that. But you'd need get to the negative, you know? You get back to the source.

Tom Mullen:

Detective. That's what I'm saying. [Laughs]

Ian MacKaye:

Right. So I really love, I love that kind of stuff and turn to archiving. I love connecting the dots in terms of finding things. That's just so satisfying for me. I had a guy, we started working about five years ago on the correspondence I had. I answered almost all my mail. I still answer a lot of my mail; emails made it very difficult for me, but I try.

Tom Mullen:

Thank you for answering mine. [Laughs]

Ian MacKaye:

Sure. My process would be that I would get a letter, I sit down at my desk, I answer the letter. There's a box on my desk - when I finish it, I'll put a check on the front of it and I throw the letter in the box. So then when the box got full, I would close the box up and stick it into some eaves. Upstairs, I have these like sort of hidey-holes. So basically working with this woman, Nichole Procopenko, she worked for the Smithsonian Folklife Center. She would actually begin working for Folkways, which sort of connected. I had gone down there and I was introduced to her and she was going through a box of correspondence from a folk artist or a jazz artist. And I said, "Okay, I have some some questions because I have all these letters." She came out and looked at the collection and she said, "I'll work with you." So she and I've worked on this for ages and ages getting it organized. It's broken into four basic subsets: there's Dischord, Minor Threat, Fugazi and then Ian. Within each of those things are subcategories, like "friend," "pen pal," "general correspondence," "scene reports." Scene reports is really cool. The kids is just writing about what's going on in their scenes. Like there's a guy from Des Moines talking about a band, called The Targets saying they are pretty cool. Just stuff like that. In the Minor Threat folder, we have a section for people writing about straight edge. We have one folder just about people upset with us for breaking up. With Fugazi there's folder about "suggestion." So I have all these subsets. It's really satisfying to break it all out into different things. It makes it usable. Otherwise it's just cardboard boxes filled with mail. At some point during that time I had a call from a guy who's working on a book about Eastern European punk. He said he had met, talked to a guy from East Berlin who in the early eighties used to write to Dischord. We were notable because we actually returned, we wrote back. He's wanting to know whether I remembered this guy and I said, "You know, sounds familiar, but let me get back to you in a few minutes, 'cause I'm in the middle of something." But I didn't tell him that we had this archive. So I went through and I found the letters. So I called, I said, "Yeah, I have the letters from Turn." And that guy's mind was blown! Then he said, "Can I get a photo? Can you scan it for me?" I said, "No. I don't own... What's written on these pages belong to Turn, not me."

Tom Mullen:

Oh, interesting.

Ian MacKaye:

Right. You have to think about this stuff. One of the issues I have with this collection is that there is a lot of stuff in there that's super personal.

Tom Mullen:

And the photos are tough too because it's the fear of who the photographer is.

Ian MacKaye:

That's a little less tricky. I think it's less tricky because let's say you wrote me a letter straight edge because your brother OD'd and that you were abused as a child or whatever. Do you want that scanned and put up on the Internet? So if someone wanted me to get your letter one day, I say, "Well, if Tom calls me and gives me the green light, I'll do it." Actually what I tell people is I will send the author a scan of it and he or she could decide whether they want to share it, but I can't share stuff.

Tom Mullen:

Right. They sent a personal letter to you.

Ian MacKaye:

Right. And they own the copyright on the stuff. But it's one of the reasons that I've been really reticent to place this stuff anywhere because I feel like I have a responsibility to all those people. Anyway, he said, "Can you send me a scan of this thing from this guy, Turn?" I said, "No. I'll send it to Turn." So I heard from Turn, who couldn't believe I still had the letters! There's something really very satisfying about that whole exchange. Also, he's writing a book so it was useful for him to actually see it. There's actually a Swedish woman, an author here the other day. She's talking about a book she's working out about these early punks. I said, "Yeah, I have letters from that guy." And she was completely blown away by it.

Tom Mullen:

That gives it other contexts that you wouldn't get otherwise.

Ian MacKaye:

Correct.

Tom Mullen:

I feel like that's the importance of it. That gets me excited if I'm the detective and me trying to figure out like, "Oh well that live performance is different because that guy was in this and this person..." It helps. Gives it context instead of, "It was just another show."

Ian MacKaye:

Right. It's funny, a lot of times like I'll be working on something and go, "This can't be right because we're wearing this pair of shoes" or I could look at the picture and say "this would be a different show." I notice stuff like that. Just the way my brain works. I probably enjoy it too much cause there's other work that I don't get done.

Tom Mullen:

What other work are you supposed to be doing?

Ian MacKaye:

You know, making records and stuff. That's what I'm supposed to be doing.

Tom Mullen:

Do you feel like that's slowed down by focusing on the archiving? Maybe not slowed down, but less time?

Ian MacKaye:

Yeah. I don't know... It's not time. It's the archive thing can be sort of addictive. I just get into it and I think "I should finish it." Like today when we were going through things and I noticed that the guy had the wrong the wrong city. I probably should've made a note to myself to come back to it, but I thought "I should just do it now, otherwise I'll forget." With a computer, if you don't act on it, it's very hard to see what's undone. I think I'm very tactile. A lot of times what reminds me is what's on my desk, on my actual desk. With a computer and there's nothing there. [Laughs] It's just a plastic box.

Tom Mullen:

Same thing with Spotify or Apple, right. If you go into your computer, if you don't have that to-do list, it's just blank. I'm not "inbox zero" but "I'm going to get this done and I'm going to do it and I'm not going to have to think about it again."

Ian MacKaye:

Right. I'm "Inbox 2100" right now. But that's just the way it goes.

Tom Mullen:

[Laughs] And more stuff's being sent in, right? People are sending in shows for the live recordings...

Ian MacKaye:

That's just my general correspondence. Slowed down but it still goes on. It's so nice. What was really interesting is that when we did the Live Series, we're not giving away the shows. We asked for five bucks because we thought it was funny because it was a $5 show, right? But if you look closely, there's an option to pay less. You can pay as little as a dollar. Which many, many, many, many people take advantage of, which is great. We don't care. Mostly we spend an enormous amount of money and time to make this project and we feel like people should contribute towards it. It's not just "Everything's free," you know, we want people to have a sense that they were a part of it. At some point we had this idea that there were people we knew who are very well off, specifically musicians, who would want to be supportive of the project (but they would never suggest it and we would never ask). So we came up with this idea of the all access pass. The all access pass is basically you just get every show and it was 500 bucks, right? $500. But you get for that a thousand shows. So it was 50 cents a show. So we did the all access pass and we got right away like 20 or 30 people. Which is amazing, right? Ironically, none of them were our rich music rock band guys at all. It was all this people, like dentists, and people who just really want to support the project and it made sense in the beginning. That was 2012, right? Or 2013? Somewhere in there. It's been quite a while. Those things can kind of peter out. Every few months, still, somebody we get an all access pass. Still! Another $500! I always send them a note, from me, telling them, "Thank you so much for your support for this project, really means a lot, blah blah blah." And they never respond! Never, never. Not once! The money was real and they got the all access pass by always. I write to them and say, "Hey, want you know this is what we've been working on, it's a crazy project, but your support is genuinely appreciated. Thank you very much." And you would think they'd tell you "So nice to be a part of it." No one ever writes, I don't know why! It's very interesting. I don't know what that's about. I'm literally writing just a thank you note and maybe they think like, "Well, what can they say? Thank you for the thank you?"

Tom Mullen:

Yeah, yeah, you're right. Yeah. It turns into the "Thank You Fest." Yeah. [Laughs]

Ian MacKaye:

I sort of figured people would just like, you know, "Wow, it's really cool that you would send the new.." Or whatever, whatever. There's no way to know whether they actually listen to the shows. Because basically on your account page on the Dischord site, you get a little tab that basically every show as it's uploaded becomes available. So there's no way for us to (or if there is a way I'm not aware of it), how to actually audit. But I actually don't really care. People often say "Well, how many have you sold of this?" I have no idea. I just don't pay attention. I was struck in the very beginning because somebody was like, "What are the most downloaded shows?" And the first show was the first, which makes sense. The last show was second. That makes sense. But the third show was this really kind of random show from LA. Like the show that we did at I think The Palace. It was like '97 or '98 or something, maybe '99. I was like, "Why? Like why is The Palace, why is this show [third]?" Because I remember this show, but I don't remember it being particularly interesting. It was because we had a rating system that it shows an excellent rating [for quality]. And this freaked me out because we decided early on when we did this site, we thought maybe we should roughly what the quality of the sound is so people have some idea.

Tom Mullen:

It's actually the first thing I look at, after I look at what date it is. The second thing I look at is the quality.

Ian MacKaye:

I actually argued strongly, should we ever redesign, I'm going to get rid of the rating because I think it's a red herring. We have a sample, usually. Now operating systems are making them disappear, but for years there was a way to listen so you can decide whether it sounds good or not. But the rating system itself, I remember we first came up with the idea, "Okay, what we'll do, we'll do a star system." Like, you know, four stars. So we're gonna just have literally to have little stars and they'd fill in. So when the first person who was helping us do this stuff, as he edited and mastered the shows, I said "Just decide, like one to four stars. When you send it through just leave things like 'this is a three star' or 'two star,' whatever it is, just let us know." While we were getting the site up and running, it turned out that the star thing was not going to work. I don't know the technical reasons, but we had to go with text. Someone said, "Well, we could write 'one star, two stars, three stars.'" That's absurd. Let's write "Poor, Good, Very good, Excellent." And that represents the four stars, right? So as I was uploading the shows and going through them, I started noticing that the guy that was rating them, he's been a pretty tough critic, right? Everything was like "Poor" or just "Good." And I'm like, "God, these songs and these shows sound pretty good to me. Why are they getting... the poor one sounded great." So I called him up and I said, "Are you... I'm confused. Are you being..." And he said, "No, I'm doing the star system. You know, one star's the best..." And I go, "No, one star's not the best, it's the worst!" And he's like, "Oh..." He just didn't know.

Tom Mullen:

How many did he go through before that?

Ian MacKaye:

A couple of hundred. So then I was like, "No big deal. We'll just like flop them, flip it around. But one of the people working on was a little dyslexic and so it gets very confusing. So who knows what anything means, right?

Tom Mullen:

[Laughs]

Ian MacKaye:

And also what's the criteria? We were just talking about the sound quality, but I would argue that a show we did in Chicago where these skinhead guys took over the stage and we hit them with our instruments. And they do an impromptu show in the middle of "Suggestion."

Tom Mullen:

Wow.

Ian MacKaye:

That's fucking cool, right?

Ian MacKaye:

That should be "Excellent." [Laughs]

Ian MacKaye:

Right. In my mind, the sound quality's not that great. Yeah. So the criteria to me, it's so... It doesn't have any real meaning.

Tom Mullen:

After looking through, I would take it away and it would almost be like notes of, of note at the show saying that...

Ian MacKaye:

Well yeah I did, that's what I've tried to do. But that's a lot of work.

Tom Mullen:

That's daunting.

Ian MacKaye:

When I looked at our site, I was like, "We should get rid of the rating system because it's doesn't make any sense." think The Palace shows, they do sound good and if people like them, that's great. But man, I wish you'd hear the show where the power gets cut off and 400 Italians sing "Waiting Room" A capella. Just drums. It's incredible. Right? It's incredible. Or the show we did in Dallas where the police shut the show down and made the crowd go stand out in the street and we played to an empty room and had the doors open. The music went into the street from there. And on that one, kids basically danced in the middle. They close the street and the kids dance in the street. They were jumping off of parked cars. A kid had a tape deck with him out on the street recording that show from the outside. So he's on this and you hear him go like, "Dude, hold my keys. I'm going to jump. I'm to go out dancing." It's just so cool.

Tom Mullen:

It'd be fun to mix the show you recorded with that!

Ian MacKaye:

It'd be hard to do.

Tom Mullen:

I just think it'd be fun. [Laughs].

Ian MacKaye:

It'd be hard, yes. So if you look at that one, the Dallas gig (I think it's Dallas '90), there's a great photos from that. But at very end of it, there's a thing that says "Outside the gig." You can actually hear, I included that in the mix. Those to me are more interesting. From a sociological point of view. But if people just want excellent quality than it depends what they think is excellent.

Tom Mullen:

Yeah. I like that. I did want to bring up the word "emo." So I know it's always had a checkered history. It was hated the first day that was uttered, I think. Correct?

Ian MacKaye:

Well, in DC in the mid eighties, that time there was this stuff called like metalcore and the word "core" was being attached to everything. And we had kind of a running joke, like Skacore and Gothcore and stuff like that. I'm pretty sure it was Brian Baker, who was the bass player in Minor Threat and then he was in Dag Nasty playing guitar. I think he came up with Emocore, which was short for emotional hardcore. And it was a joke! It was derisive. He was making fun of us. When I say "us," I mean really Rites of Spring and Embrace and Lunchmeat to some degree. But it was the mid eighties response to what was happening in the shows, which was a lot of skinhead nonsense. We were like, "Oh fuck you." But Maximum Rock n' Roll picked up on it. Tim Yohannan. And he loved it because Tim was a real purist in terms of punk. He liked it fast and hard. Like hardcore, like metal, almost metal/metalcore. He liked fast... Sorry, Tim liked like Finnish hardcore, like really extreme thrash stuff. He did not understand what we were up to here with Rites of Spring, Embrace. So they were gleeful when they came across this "Emocore" thing. So every review, "Oh, emocore, get out your hankies," you know. Which by the way, was pretty apocryphal - this business about people crying in the shows. It's so ridiculous.

Tom Mullen:

I never thought it was crying. I always thought emo was, with the bands that I was seeing (or at least later in the '90s) were, it was a moment that you thought was going to break, but didn't. It was more euphoria. It was more of a crescendo and it keeping together.

Ian MacKaye:

Right. Like an overwhelming kind of moment, I guess. But the point being we thought, "We're punks." This is punk music because we said so. On this other thing, on Emocore - In the beginning it was really kind of derisive and as an insult in a way. I used to think of like backpack kids. The screamo or emo early stuff. I saw that and I was like, "Well, these [Laughs] kids are going off!" I can't remember some of the bands like...

Tom Mullen:

What years?

Ian MacKaye:

'89, '88, '89-'90 that early... Just full bore screaming. Just going off! And I get it. I can see why they could call us Emocore.

Tom Mullen:

Or screamo.

Ian MacKaye:

Yeah. It was like scream therapy. I understood it that degree. Then emo became sort of became a genre. I found it to be more middle of the road kind of stuff. Where it ended up being very kind of like radio play stuff or college rock. Which was never what I was about anyway. But I didn't really care, except for people saying, "You guys invented it." And I was like, "We didn't invent anything. We just were a punk band and were making music."

Tom Mullen:

But names evolve or genres evolve.

Ian MacKaye:

Yeah, the word punk. Starts out as derisive. Then people claim it and then it becomes something. They redefine it. I do think emo as a form, there's something a little comfortable about it for me. Like it's a comfort food. That doesn't resonate well with me. Not "smug..." but it's a different form. I just want to keep being weird. [Laughs].

Tom Mullen:

Until it feels too easy?

Ian MacKaye:

I don't know. I can't... it's hard to really... I just don't relate to it on that level. I remember seeing bands that were referred to as emo, or bands that refer to themselves as emo and never feeling like, "Well, what is... Why? What is the... What is it? I don't see the thing." It seems like there's a variety of what made bands emo and maybe a variety of reasons that people use that term.

Tom Mullen:

I mean it's interesting when it hit the mainstream. Then the mainstream people think hair and the certain pants and a belt and it turned into this fashion thing I feel that has permeated. So even if you do use the word, there's an instant snicker or an instant marginalization of the genre because of that. Or maybe it was from the beginning? There was a snicker from Brian.

Ian MacKaye:

Well it started as a snicker. Yeah, for sure.

Tom Mullen:

So maybe that's the life that it's... [Laughs]

Ian MacKaye:

It's weird to me. I have to say that if your podcast was called "Two by Four" or if your podcast had been called "The Glass Box," I would have more quickly been willing to speak with you. But Washed Up Emo...

Tom Mullen:

That was one of your first questions. It was like, "What's the name?" You make stuff up, you say it. I just thought "they're a little bit older and they're still respected and they're..."

Ian MacKaye:

Who's "they?"

Tom Mullen:

Just the bands. Bands, music. I had thought that, but it's a stupid name. I've had it happen where people don't want to be on [because of the name]. Also they were in a band that people would not listen to because they were associated with that word.

Ian MacKaye:

Who?

Tom Mullen:

Who doesn't want to be on?

Ian MacKaye:

No, no, no. Are you saying there are bands people won't listen to because they've been associated with that word?

Tom Mullen:

No, they try to distance themselves.

Ian MacKaye:

Ohhhh.

Tom Mullen:

So if a magazine had said X, they would try and distance themselves. I guess the word's always had that feeling to it.

Ian MacKaye:

Or people claimed it.

Tom Mullen:

True.

Ian MacKaye:

Here's the thing about that kind of labeling. Like rack, racking. Or genre stuff, especially when it's nebulous. When Fugazi started a tour, I would call ahead and tell people that booked the shows, "You cannot put Minor Threat on the flyers, Ex-Minor Threat. Or if you do, you have to put Rites of Spring on." Whatever, just making them actually engaged. So it's not just like "Minor Threat, Minor Threat, Minor Threat." My thinking at the time was is that if you use something like that, imagine it was a horse and you can just put a rein on it and it pulls your cart. So you use something to promote yourself, right? It's pulling you along. Same way, with a genre like emo, where they used as a way to pull your band along into the public eye. Well, at some point that horse will die. And if you keep moving, you got to drag it behind you. It becomes an anchor and that's the way I felt about like things like emo or taglines like that. If I had said, "Minor Threat, Minor Threat," if I used that to promote the band, it would have destroyed Fugazi. We wanted to go tour as Fugazi. We toured for almost a year with no records. Over a year with no records at all. The idea was go be a band. Go play shows. And then by the time we do put a record out, we will have established ourselves as a band, not as Minor Threat. It won't be like the reviewer's going like, "Well this is the new Minor Threat record." [Laughs] And even if they did, the four of us would be impervious because we know what the fuck we are. We're a band. And that was sort of idea. But the main thing was to not use something like a hook to pull us along, trying to use something to promote us. Instead, let the music be the thing that people engage with and let that be the deciding factor. So I think that, yeah, I think that, yeah, Washed Up... the word emo, it was too nebulous to begin with. It was a joke to begin with. It became too nebulous. And I imagine for some people sitting there using it to promote themselves and now they kind of live with it, you know? [Laughs] That's the way it goes.

Tom Mullen:

Or you're trying to run away from it.

Ian MacKaye:

Right. But I think that at the end of the day, really, if you write great songs it doesn't really matter what you call it.

Tom Mullen:

Yeah. I've definitely interviewed hardcore bands and punk bands and so people know that it's not just that.

Ian MacKaye:

I think that the punk thing was a little more wide open. I think emo was more of a distillation, it was more of a sub genre. I would say people involved with emo tend to be a part of punk.

Tom Mullen:

Yes.

Ian MacKaye:

But not all punks are part of emo.

Tom Mullen:

I thought it was from the hardcore scene, like post-hardcore.

Ian MacKaye:

Or even hardcore. Even that. Again, hardcore was punk, but not everybody who was punk was hardcore. What I liked about punk was it was so undefinable. At the time, at least, it ceratinly was not a marketing thing.

Tom Mullen:

Yeah. That's the thing. The word then was marketed to, and the later maybe the anchor of that one band that kept using emo dug in a little deeper.

Ian MacKaye:

Right. I think it's interesting you should say that because I think that the labels that associated as sort of "underground" or "punk" labels (there are some that were pretty cheesy for sure), but I think that maybe in that sort of emo world, maybe some of the labels are a little more, they were... Like Dischord for instance was a punk, was and is a punk label. We didn't, and we don't use contracts. We've never used a single contract. Right. I don't have a lawyer. So that's sort of unusual in terms of record labels. Very punk in my mind. But I think a lot of the emo labels, very much in that world, was much more Orthodox. They were starting labels and like they have contracts.

Tom Mullen:

This could be a business.

Ian MacKaye:

Right? It's a business thing. So like there was a whole other kind of... I think people were thinking that this is a great way to like move our...

Tom Mullen:

Sell a bunch of merch.

Ian MacKaye:

Right. And that's just a different mission.

Tom Mullen:

That's what I felt too. I felt like if I was going to see that screamo band in the mid-nineties... they had their seven inch and they made it themselves and screen printed it. It was different when the band, that was using the word came back with the fancy sampler or the super rad screen print, whatever the one was.

Ian MacKaye:

Right. But to be fair and to be clear, I got no disrespect for people. I'm not saying... I don't have, I just...

Tom Mullen:

No, a word can take a life on its own.

Ian MacKaye:

I just want to be clear. I'm not interested in, I'm not pointing at no band or saying nothing bad about anybody. I It's just more about the phenomenon. I do think it's interesting.

Tom Mullen:

It's still around.

Ian MacKaye:

Of course. Yeah.

Tom Mullen:

But that's amazing that it's survived.

Ian MacKaye:

Yeah. But it's because the core of it is music and music was here first. If you read interviews with me, I'm sure you've seen me say "music is the form of communication that predates language." So it's real, it's a real situation. How old are you? Are you in your late 30's or something?

Tom Mullen:

I'm 40.

Ian MacKaye:

You're 40. Okay. So, when you were 15 or 16 or something, I assume music kicked your ass. Maybe you saw some bands at the time that were identified as emo or whatever, and you're like, "Wow, the world just started to make sense to me in a way that had never had made sense to me before. And this was my soundtrack." So it's deep and it's real. For me, I was 16 when I saw The Cramps. I was 17 when I saw the Bad Brains. When I saw those bands, suddenly the world made sense to me. For me it was punk rock.

Tom Mullen:

So however the word lives, someone's going to be 16 finding it at that moment.

Ian MacKaye:

Right, it's all the same thing. But I say punk is folk is blues is jazz is beat is emo is hip hop. It's all one thing. It's just a free space. It's just a new idea and it still goes on. There's something beautiful about punk because just the legs on this thing is crazy. There are still people who are punk that don't fear anything. I love that. The genre was not... Like, it's hard to be, say a ska band without playing ska, but punk is undefinable.