Friday, April 18, 2008

From the Archives, Part I: Sample Interviews Fugazi

Today begins a series of entries aimed at diving into the archives to reveal interviews and insights from KWUR's past, published in Sample Magazine or recorded live. For example, a recently found programming guide, had this to say about KWUR:

kwur.
we aren't ticklish
in the least.
really.

Anyway, this series will start with an interview titled "What You Think Is Wrong" by Charles Long, first appearing in Issue 2 of Sample Magazine, originally published September 1991.


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Don't label, them, don't categorize them, and don't assume anything about Fugazi, because, as Charles Long found out, you'll probably be wrong. Singer Guy Picciotto reminds us that no one is right all of the time.

Sample: It was really crowded tonight; is every place you play as crowded as this?
Guy Picciotto: No. I mean we've played in places like Poland, Sweden, other countries -- we've played shows which were like a hundred and fifty kids, four hundred kids -- smaller than this, definitely.
S: Do you get a good response abroad and the places no one has heard of you?
GP: Well, I don't really know how to define a good response. Like for us, a good evening, a really successful evening, is if we played well and we delivered. So I mean, yeah, sometimes people like us, sometime they don't know us. I don't know. It's really hard for me to judge, I mean, I can only judge it on the way that we play, I can't -- you would have to interview the people who come to see how they receive us.
S: Many tours are a prelude to material about to be released -- I noticed you played some songs that I had not heard before -- are you about to release a new album?
GP: Yeah, we don't tour in conjunction with releases or not, we tour when we have time and it just so happens we recorded in January a eleven song album which should be out, I guess -- I hope, in July, but we'll see. Either July, August, September . . . It's called "Steady Diet of Nothing" and it's eleven songs.
S: Will it be different in any way from your previous albums?
GP: I think the biggest difference is that we produced it ourselves which we've never done before and we did it pretty fast. And it's got a much different feel and sound than I think the last record [had.] But in terms of themes, I mean, I think all the records have many many different themes and so does this record. So I would just say, we wrote a bunch of songs, we went in, we recorded them, and this is it.
S: Why did you produce it yourself this time? Are you not working through Dischord?
GP: Oh, no -- we're doing it through Dischord. I'm talking about the production, I'm talking about in the studio. Usually we use a guy named Ted Nicely or a guy named John Loder to produce our records and this time we couldn't get it together with Ted becuase he was busy doing another job. So we said we'll just try to produce it ourselves and see if it works and then it actually turned out pretty good. And so then we decided to release it.
S: Most of the members have been in other bands before -- do you feel that Fugazi is a culmination or do you feel that there is something further that you might be able to do in the future?
GP: That's a tough question. I've been playing n bands since I was sixteen, every band has been with Brendan, the drummer and so, obviously the music has changed. And different bands that Ian has been in, obviously the styles have changed, take[n] different approahces. But the way I look at this band, this is the most functional band that I have been in -- we're able to tour, we're able to release records, we're able to get along for more than one year at a time which is kind of novel for me being in a band. And I think whatever challenges we want to put to ourselves musically, whatever, I think, at this point, we're going to try do it with this band. And when it no longer functions, it no longer challenges us, we'll just disband and do something else.
S: How did Fugazi come together?
GP: Brendan and I were in a band called Happy Go Liky and at the same time Joe and Ian were playing together in a basement and Brendan was just sitting in as part time durmmer. They had gone through a bunch of drummers and Brendan was just helping them out. And then Happy Go Licky was gradually falling apart and Brendan kinda decided that he was going to join Fugazi and I joining kinda as a roadie at first and then as sometimes singer and then finally as a member.
S: A lot of your music carries a great deal of meaning. Is there a particular mesage you try to get across or is it just a general social/political theme that you try to portray? I could ask about particular songs but that would take all night. Is there anything in particular you feel you want to say?
GP: No, really there's not. I mean if there was one message or whatever we could have put on a slab of vinyl, released it and be done with it. We're musicians, we've a lot of interests, a lot of ideas and the music reflects that. If we were a one message band I don't know why people would want to bother coming to see us. I mean, they're in the songs. I don't write , I don't paint -- I do music. So what I want to say is in the music so, there it is.
S: So, music to you is an art form; it's not just getting up and playing for money.
GP: It's not getting up and playing for money. I don't know if it is art or not. It's what I do and if it was something I was doing for money I would have stopped maybe about five or six years ago because it wasn't paying off back then, I'll tell you that.
S: Is this a full time job for you then?
GP: About a year ago, I stopped working. Before that, for the first three years of this band, I was working in record stores, bookstores, and washing dishes. And then - now we're touring to keep the point where it is impossible to keep a job at home so, . . . and it's paying for itself. So, yeah, I do this full time.
S: You have reached a great deal of acceptance; what do you think might be some of the reasons for this?
GP: I don't know ad I don't really think about it that much. I mean, you really need to talk to some of the people coming out and buying our records or come to see our shows. I think all it is -- we're a band and we do things exactly the way we want to do them and if people respond to that, great, and if they don't respond to that, that is something that's too bad. We just basically carry ourselves as we want to, so I'm glad people like it.
S: A lot of DC music and a lot of the bands that you have been in have set a nation-wide trend. Do you feel yourself as a trend-setter?
GP: I don't see a DC music trend. I think that there are a lot of bands in DC that are good and they all do different things. OS I don't recognize a trend. I don't really care too much about trneds. We play music that we're able to -- we go, we practice , we write, and this is what we do.
S: Final question: What would you call your music -- hardore, punk, what?
GP: I don't call it anything.

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