For other uses, see Fugazi (disambiguation).
|Origin||Washington, D.C., U.S.|
|Years active||1986–2003 (on hiatus)|
|Past members||Colin Sears|
It is noted for its style-transcending music, DIY ethical stance, manner of business practice, and contempt for the music industry.
Fugazi has performed numerous worldwide tours and 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 hiatus since 2003.
Formation and early years (1986–1989)
MacKaye recalled, "My interests were not necessarily to be in a band, but to be with people who wanted to play music with me."
After a few months of rehearsals, Sears returned to Dag Nasty and was replaced by Canty (earlier of Rites of Spring).
One day, Picciotto, Canty's Rites of Spring bandmate, dropped by during a practice session to see how his friend was getting along; 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 [into a body bag]".
The band began inviting Picciotto to practices.
After his band Happy Go Licky broke up, he became more involved with Fugazi.
MacKaye eventually asked Picciotto to become a full member, and he accepted.
Fugazi EP & Margin Walker – 13 Songs (1988–1989)
Fugazi embarked on its first tour in January 1988.
In June 1988 the band recorded its debut EP Fugazi with producer Ted Niceley and producer/engineer Don Zientara (who became a longtime collaborator), and shortly afterward embarked on an arduous tour of Europe.
At the tour's conclusion in December, the band recorded songs for its intended debut album.
But the band was spent from touring and found the resulting sessions were unsatisfactory.
The track list was cut down to an EP and released as Margin Walker the next year.
Both EPs were eventually combined into the 13 Songs release in late 1989.
Upon the band's return from Europe, Picciotto, unsatisfied with singing, began playing guitar too.
Repeater and Steady Diet of Nothing (1990–1992)
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.
But the band spent most of 1990 and 1991 touring heavily behind Repeater, performing 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.
Major labels began to court Fugazi, but the band stayed with Dischord.
It was critically well received and featured an alternative rock sound that predated significant releases such as Nirvana's Nevermind and Pearl Jam's Ten, which unexpectedly broke the genre into the mainstream.
Niceley had become a chef and had to reluctantly turn down the job, so the band decided to produce the record itself.
After the success of Repeater and its subsequent world tour, Steady Diet was highly anticipated.
Six months before its release Dischord had more than 160,000 pre-orders 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 1992 with Steve Albini in Chicago, but the results were deemed unsatisfactory and the band rerecorded the album with Niceley and Don Zientara.
With the breakthrough of alternative rock in the early 1990s, In on the Kill Taker; released on June 30, 1993, became the group's first record to enter the Billboard album charts, receiving critical praise from Spin, TIME magazine and Rolling Stone, and becoming the band's breakthrough album.
By the In on the Kill Taker tour, the group began to sell out large auditoriums and arenas and receive more lucrative major label offers.
During its sold-out 3-night stint at New York City's Roseland Ballroom in September 1993, music mogul and Atlantic Records president Ahmet Ertegun met with the band backstage in an attempt to sign them.
Ertegun offered the band "anything you want", their own subsidiary label and more than $10 million just to sign with Atlantic.
The organizers of Lollapalooza also attempted to recruit the band for a headlining slot on its 1993 tour, which the band considered but ultimately turned down.
The band worked with Zientara but chose not to work with 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 that displayed greater range and depth.
To achieve this, the band handled production duties itself, and in doing so, became more confident with in-studio experimentation.
Red Medicine took Fugazi a step further toward art rock.
The band began an extensive worldwide tour in support of the album, playing 172 shows between March 1995 and November 1996.
End Hits and The Argument (1997–2002)
After the grueling worldwide tour the band 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 returned to Inner Ear Studios with Zientara to begin recording what became End Hits, 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.
Critical reaction to End Hits was mixed.
Many critics praised its heavier tracks, while others questioned the inclusion of the group's longer, more experimental songs.
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 brought his own riffs and ideas to the band, jammed on them, and then began piecing the songs together into various configurations before deciding on the final versions.
The band once again worked with 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.
Canty told Modern Drummer, "We recorded them all very differently in terms of the drum sounds.
We used a lot of different cymbals, snares, and ways of miking."
Arion Berger of Rolling Stone called the album "bracing" and "intellectual" and Chris True of AllMusic "spine-tingling and ear-shattering all at once", writing, "the band has raised the bar for themselves and others once again."
He also wrote that the album had "touched on strange new territory."
By this point Fugazi was on tour less, due in large part to other professional and personal commitments.
It performed only 32 shows in 2001 and 2002.
Indefinite hiatus and reunion rumours (2003–present)
Fugazi went on what it has called an "indefinite hiatus" after the conclusion of its 2002 UK tour following three sold-out nights at the London Forum on November 2–4, 2002.
The hiatus was brought on by the band members' insistence on spending more time with their families and pursuing other professional projects.
Since Fugazi went on hiatus in 2003, rumors began circulating about a reunion, with some insinuating that the band may get back together to headline the Coachella Festival.
While the band has confirmed that it has been offered large sums of money to reunite and headline festivals, such as Coachella, it has 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".
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, reassociating 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 Fugazi track "Merchandise."
The album was released on November 18, 2014.
MacKaye insisted in a 2017 interview that Fugazi is not, in fact, broken up.
While he admits any future public performance will have to contend with various confounding factors, the members have occasionally played music together, privately, since their 2003 hiatus.
On March 21, 2018, in an interview on Vish Khanna's Kreative Kontrol podcast, Lally confirmed the band's irregular practice of casual get-togethers.
He stated: “Yeah, when we’re all in D.C., we totally hang out together and talk and spend a lot of time laughing.
We have a great time together, go out to dinner, and we'll play some music together.” Lally also stated that additional public performances or tours were unlikely: "There's so much to try to look after to allow Fugazi to do anything, that we do not have the time to give it the respect that it deserves.
So unfortunately, it is where it is.”
On February 13, 2019, Louder Sound asked Lally and Canty about the possibility of Fugazi returning, Lally responded “You never want to say never about anything, because how can you say that about the future?
But there does seem to be a lack of time to allow it to happen, because the four of us would have to spend a lot of time together to figure out, 'Should we play old songs?'
'Who are we now?'
'What is it now?'
We are not the kind of band to get together and just rehearse two hours of old songs to go out and play it, rake in the dough and come home.” Canty added, "If we got back together it would have to be from the spirit of creativity.
It would be different if we got back together.”
Canty has been doing a variety of soundtrack scores and playing bass in the trio Garland Of Hours alongside frequent Fugazi guest contributors Jerry Busher and Amy Domingues, and has played bass live with Mary Timony.
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.
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 Peppers guitarists John Frusciante and Josh Klinghoffer, known as Ataxia.
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 the 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.
The album is titled 13 Chambers, group name Wugazi.
However, Fugazi itself did not have any involvement with the release.
Bassist 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 better work."
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.
In 2016, Canty and Lally joined with guitarist Anthony Pirog to form the Messthetics, Canty and Lally's first project together since Fugazi's hiatus.
In March 2018, the Messthetics released their self-titled debut album and embarked upon a tour of the US and Japan.
The band toured further and released a second album entitled Anthropocosmic Nest in 2019.
In 2018, Ian MacKaye, Amy Farina and Joe Lally debuted a new band.
In February 2020, it was announced that the band, now called Coriky, would release their first album on March 27, 2020.
The debut single, "Clean Kill", was released on February 11, 2020.
The band previewed their album at a free show in D.C.'s St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church on February 22, 2020.
Upon release the record was favorable reviewed in a few publications.
Often drawing comparisons and contrasts with Ian and Amy's other band The Evens, as well as fugazi.
Main article: Fugazi Live Series
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 2005, 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, "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."
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, Phish and Pearl Jam, three notable examples of other artists with such a large volume of concerts available for purchase.
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; employing a 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 in Fugazi.
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.
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."
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."
In a 2004 interview with Indonesian magazine Deathrockstar, Picciotto named "D.C. groups" such as Bad Brains (" [...] who inspired all of us so much at the beginning [...]"), The Faith and Void as influences, in addition to Minutemen, Black Flag, Sonic Youth, The Ex and The Beatles, the latter of which all the members "share[d] a major love for".
Despite this, he similarly conceded that "[i]ts [sic] impossible to narrow it down to one band or record because we didn’t just crib from one blueprint, we were grabbing ideas from all over the place and then filtering them through our own limited and personally shaped skills."
On their first tours, Fugazi worked out its DIY ethic 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.
Everett True has said that MacKaye and Fugazi "had a mind-set that believed that any involvement with the system was corrupting and that you should create completely alternative structures outside".
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.
Many times the band performed sold-out shows multiple consecutive nights at the same venue.
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."
Michael Azerrad quotes Mackaye, "See, [slam dancers] 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, "[MacKaye's] 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 personal assets."
Influence and legacy
Towards the end of his life, Joe Strummer, lead vocalist of The Clash, recognized Fugazi as the band that best exemplified "the spirit of punk" in a 2000 Rolling Stone interview, besides offering them accolades on several other occasions.
Graham Coxon of Blur recalls his introduction to bands such as Fugazi (and the Picciotto-led Rites of Spring) in the mid 90s as being one of the most musically significant moments of his life: "They used the guitar in an incredible way; making quite restrained noisy music, which I’d never heard English bands doing."
Jim Adkins of Jimmy Eat World named both MacKaye & Picciotto as an influence on his guitar playing as they made him "more open to the ideas behind guitar playing, as opposed to the technical difficulty of it.".
Tom DeLonge of Blink-182 called the band a big influence as they “stood for something and never varied from that path.” “Fugazi was probably my biggest influence as far as wanting to start a band,” Modest Mouse founding member Jeremiah Green admitted, "It was really great music and just sounded like something I could possibly do."
Gareth Liddiard, lead vocalist & guitarist of both The Drones and Tropical Fuck Storm, named Fugazi (amongst many others) as an influence on his guitar-playing, and praised the band's live performances.
It's so together and everything sits in the right place."
Jeff Rosenstock not only called the band a big influence on his music, but also on his strict DIY business practices & ethics.
Sunny Day Real Estate cited the band as an influence for similar reasons.
In addition, the band was a formative influence on Tool bassist Justin Chancellor, Jack White, Daniel Johns of Silverchair, Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney, Iceage, ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, Dylan Baldi of Cloud Nothings, Arcade Fire lead singer Win Butler, Travis Morrison of The Dismemberment Plan, Efrim Menuck of Godspeed You! , Black EmperorAlison Mosshart of The Kills, Brand New guitarist Jesse Lacey, Converge lead vocalist Jacob Bannon, Coalesce, Tad Kubler of The Hold Steady, Ben Lee, Patterson Hood of Drive-By Truckers, Explosions in the Sky, Kele Okereke of Bloc Party, Trevor de Brauw of Pelican, Ted Leo, Matt Healy of The 1975, Mary Timony, Hayley Williams of Paramore, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, and Lorde.
- Ian MacKaye – vocals, guitar (1986–2003)
- Joe Lally – bass guitar, vocals (1986–2003)
- Brendan Canty – drums (1987–2003)
- Guy Picciotto – vocals, guitar (1988/1989–2003)
- Colin Sears – drums (1986)
Main article: Fugazi discography
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fugazi.