Fugazi frontman on consumerism, community, children

In These Times interviews Ian MacKaye of Fugazi, Minor Threat and his current side project, The Evens.

On music in ads:
Right now, the conventional thinking has it that the only way to have a music career is to do it with advertisements. That is total bullshit. The way to have a music career is to make good music and then people will listen to that.

The people who sell things have an attitude that goes like this: ‘Let’s take the music and place it with our ad. That way, people will associate the deep relationship they have with music with our product.’

This is not where music was supposed to end up. It’s a tragedy that musicians have come to this sort of thinking.
On the branding of childhood:
I am, of course, disgusted by mass marketing to children. You can imagine my horror when I discovered that it’s virtually impossible to buy a diaper—which is essentially a shit bag—without a goddamn corporate cartoon figure on it. It’s deeply disturbing.
On living in community:
I don’t mean necessarily living in a commune, but rather, I believe in the value of proximity to other people and having an open-door policy. The open-door policy being, an unlocked door may result in the occasional devil, but a locked door insists on a thousand angels walking past.
On a turning point:
Right before Embrace [the short-lived band MacKaye formed in 1985], I thought about all the singing I was doing and the anger and protest of my work, and I thought, ‘What is the actual thrust of this work? What is it that I am trying to achieve?’ And I said, ‘Well, I’m trying to achieve happiness for people in the world.’


Ulysses said...

cynical. "the people who sell things" - AKA, him. it's naive to assume this "us and them" posturing. you sell things ian. everyone sells things. and sometimes people who make ads just want a cool song in the ad. one that they like. One that has some relation to the tagline or product. it's not always a grand conspiracy to parasite on people's emotions. we're all people and if you really want to change things, you need to stop assuming people you don't like (or understand) are evil and realize they're pretty much just like you. when you approach folks on that footing, then things can change. (that is if you want to change things rather than just complain about them).

Anonymous said...

I don't know about that Ulysses. I don't think its the notion of "selling things" that he is criticizing but the advertising world as whole. I think the most basic premise of advertising is that it is "grand conspiracy to parasite on people's emotions", except maybe it isn't a conspiracy, it is a well established fact which is why advertising firms get paid what they do.

So many multinational US based corporations have played on artists good intentions and art works, to sell the products they've made through exploitation and then have it rammed into our brains via inescapable mass media.

If you read the article, it pretty much says something similar to how your post ends. I think Mr. MacKaye doesn't want to be a part of the aforementioned system, since it is toxic and unsustainable.

While some musicians maybe be able to support a family on cutting jingles for those corporations, it largely ignores the fact that the products they support are frequently generated through exploitation or unfair practices. Sure band x might get 10 grand for the song used to sell $150 sneakers, it is a really cool song. What about the guy that got paid $10 a month to make hundreds of pairs of those sneakers?