Interview with: Guy Picciotto (Fugazi)
Location: Via email
So first of all the boring question, could you talk us through the band history.
It's not really a boring question, just not an easy one to answer because we've been around for 13 years and it's kind of hard to capsulize the whole thing fast-like. Here's the basic rundown.
Fugazi is made up of four musicians from Washington DC. Joe Lally plays bass and sings. He also runs a record label called Tolotta records which has put out records by bands like Spirit Caravan and Stinking Lizaveta.
Brendan Canty is our drummer. When he is not working on Fugazi stuff he does soundtrack work for childrens computer games and television documentaries. He also does quite a bit of production work for other bands as well.
Ian MacKaye plays guitar and sings. Before Fugazi he played in a lot of bands from Washington including Teen Idles, Minor Threat, Embrace and Egg Hunt. Since 1981 he has also been running the record label Dischord which documents bands from DC and has put out every one of our records.
I am Guy Picciotto. I play guitar and sing. On the side I also have a record label called Peterbilt and I do a lot of production work for bands like the Make Up and Blonde Redhead. Before Fugazi I played in a number of bands with Brendan like Rites Of Spring, One Last Wish and Happy Go Licky.
Where did it all start for Fugazi as a collective?
Fugazi played its first show in September of 1987. At that time the group was a 3 piece with just Ian, Brendan and Joe. Since I had such a long history of playing in bands with Brendan I quickly moved from being a roadie, to being a back up singer, to finally playing guitar and singing. By 1988 I was already a full time member of the band. Since then we have basically been working full stop.
What does working non-stop as a band involved?
We have toured all over the world from Brazil to Malaysia and have released 7 full albums of music: '13 Songs' which combined our first two E.P's 'Fugazi' and 'Margin Walker', 'Repeater' , 'Steady of Nothing', 'In on the Killtaker', Red Medicine', 'End Hits' and 'Instrument soundtrack' which contains excerpts of music from our film/video 'Instrument'.
Having influenced many bands, Fugazi are often seen as the pinnacle of 'punk' and 'hardcore'. In a time where music is far too easily categorised, how do you feel about bands who acknowledge Fugazi as an influence?
It's a nice idea but I don't really see us as the pinnacle of anything and certainly not 'punk' or 'hardcore' which are words that have at this point been pretty well drained of any discernable shared meaning. As far as the question of influence, I guess I think the whole thing is just a matter of reciprocal energy - you hear music that sets fire to your brain and you use that inspiration to make your own music which in turn may hopefully set fire to someone else's brain. For every band that cite us as an influence there are a ton of other bands whose influence sparked the initiative in us to begin with. It's like some kind of giant relay race with batons getting handed of in a thousand directions.
Who would you fire a verbal rocket at?
I wouldn't mind shooting a literal rocket at all participants in the upcoming American elections, all leaders of NATO countries, the architects of the U.S prison system and the promoters of Woodstock '99.
What about the over-rated landmark of our lifetime, the end of the millennium? Was it a similar anti-climax in Washington as it was in London?
I was kind of hoping that there would be some kind of huge civil disturbance here in DC so I was really depressed when I came down with an insane virus that had me sweating out a 104 degree fever. As it turned out there was no major survillian insurrection, just a few fireworks and high fives so I guess I didn't miss much.
You've put out quite consistent and prolific albums so here's the nailbiter. How long, in all honesty, can you keep this up?
We've always had the idea that when the ideas dry up and we end up repeating ourselves that we would be cognisant enough to nip the band in the bud. So far we still feel like we are learning how to play together and the songs still seem to keep coming so for now we are happy to keep on keeping on. Still, bands are often the last ones to figure out when they've passed their expiration date so your readers are welcome to write in and let us know when it's time to call it a day.